Sinéad O’Connor is a musical artist who has had her fair share of controversy. Some might even call her a political activist. I’m not very familiar with her music, but I do love her cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares to U.” I listened to and read the lyrics of quite a few songs before choosing the one featured here today. Sorry for the late posting.
Please take a moment to read this glowing review by Steven Baltin at Forbes, regarding Sinead’s concert in Los Angeles on February 7 last month.
Sinéad Marie Bernadette O’Connor is an Irish singer-songwriter, was born December 8, 1966 and who rose to fame in the late 1980s with her debut album The Lion and the Cobra. O’Connor achieved worldwide success in 1990 with a new arrangement of Prince’s song “Nothing Compares 2 U”.
Since then, while maintaining her singing career, she has occasionally encountered controversy, partly due to her statements and gestures. These include her ordination as a priest, despite being a woman with a Roman Catholic background, and strongly expressing views on organized religion, women’s rights, war, and child abuse. In addition to her ten solo albums, her work includes many singles, songs for films, collaborations with many other artists, and appearances at charity fundraising concerts.
In 2017, O’Connor changed her name to Magda Davitt. On converting to Islam in 2018, she changed it to Shuhada’ Sadaqat. However, she continues to record and perform under her original name.
O’Connor was born in Glenageary in County Dublin and was named after Sinéad de Valera, wife of Irish President Éamon de Valera and mother of the doctor presiding over the delivery, and Saint Bernadette of Lourdes. She is the third of five children, sister to novelist Joseph, Eimear, John, and Eoin.
Her parents are Sean O’Connor, a structural engineer later turned barrister and chairperson of the Divorce Action Group, and Marie O’Connor. In 1979 O’Connor left her mother and went to live with her father and his new wife. At the age of 15, her shoplifting and truancy led to her being placed for eighteen months in a Magdalene Asylum, the Grianán Training Centre run by the Order of Our Lady of Charity. In some ways, she thrived there, especially in the development of her writing and music, but she also chafed under the imposed conformity. Unruly students there were sometimes sent to sleep in the adjoining nursing home, an experience of which she later commented, “I have never—and probably will never—experience such panic and terror and agony over anything.”
One of the volunteers at Grianán was the sister of Paul Byrne, drummer for the band In Tua Nua, who heard O’Connor singing “Evergreen” by Barbra Streisand. She recorded a song with them called “Take My Hand” but they felt that at 15, she was too young to join the band. Through an ad she placed in Hot Press in mid-1984, she met Colm Farrelly. Together they recruited a few other members and formed a band called Ton Ton Macoute. The band moved to Waterford briefly while O’Connor attended Newtown School, but she soon dropped out of school and followed them to Dublin, where their performances received positive reviews.
O’Connor in June 1993 wrote a public letter in The Irish Times which asked people to “stop hurting” her: “If only I can fight off the voices of my parents / and gather a sense of self-esteem / Then I’ll be able to REALLY sing …” The letter repeated accusations of abuse by her parents as a child which O’Connor had made in interviews. Her brother Joseph defended their father to the newspaper but agreed regarding their mother’s “extreme and violent abuse, both emotional and physical“. Sinead said that month, “Our family is very messed up. We can’t communicate with each other. We are all in agony. I for one am in agony.“
The Lion and the Cobra is her debut album, released on 4 November 1987 by Ensign and Chrysalis Records. O’Connor recorded the album while heavily pregnant with her first child. The title of the album is from Psalm 91:13 “you will tread upon the lion and cobra”, and the track “Never Get Old” opens with an Irish language recital of Psalm 91 by singer Enya.
“God commanded His angels concerning you
To guard you in all your ways.
They will lift you up in their arms
To keep you from striking your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra
You will trample the great lion and the serpent.”
Young woman with a drink in her hand
She like to listen to rock and roll
She moves with the music
‘Cause it never gets old
It’s the only thing
That never gets old
Young man in a quiet place
Got a hawk on his arm
He loves that bird
Never does no harm
It’s the only thing
That never can do no harm
Must be the only thing
That never can do no harm
Sun setting on the avenue
Everyone walks by
They live their life under cover
Songwriters: Sinead O’connor