This week marks the 20th anniversary of Sinéad O’Connor’s breakthrough album “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.” This news makes me feel a lot of things, nostalgic and old are the two of them. Crap, my copy of this CD is 20 years old? But what it really makes me feel like is those two lonely tears that fell defiantly down her face in “Nothing Compares U 2.”
Of course a tear can signify many things: joy, loss, grief. For Sinéad what I primarily feel is loss. Because on this is one fucking amazingly talented woman. And she is nowhere to be found on the musical landscape right now. It’s hard to quantify what makes Sinéad so spectacular. Her voice, of course. Her rebellion, naturally. And her honesty, to a fault.
Some of the reason she has disappeared from our collective conscience are of her own doing. She was kooky. She was a priest. She was a lesbian. She was not a lesbian. But others are of our own doing – or undoing, as the case may be.
While others may feel differently, I’ve never harbored any ill will toward her tearing up of the picture of the pope. First, it’s a picture. Second, she had a point. The church was covering up sexual abuse. That she was before her time in sounding the alarm should be commended, not condemned. But I am not here to talk about politics or religion or belief systems. Instead, I want to celebrate raw talent.
Because that is what Sinéad is best at, being raw. She shines when she opens her mouth and lets the truth wail out, be it uncomfortable or tragic, joyous or confessional. While “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got” is her most famous album (and a real beauty that still holds up, two decades later), those of you who stopped paying attention to the striking bald lady with the big beautiful eyes and even bigger voice shortly after it missed her next great album: “Faith & Courage.”
Released 10 years ago, it is a more hushed but no less truthful snapshot of an artist in full. This album is gorgeous. Her voice, the lyrics, the melodies. Gorgeous. And if you think her lesbian conversion was just a publicity stunt, listen to “Emma’s Song.” Something there was real, even if it wasn’t handled well outwardly.
Sinéad spoke with Entertainment Weekly briefly about her 20th anniversary and revealed that she is releasing a new studio album soon. I think I’ll give it a try. Because, above all else, that lady can just flat-out fucking sing. And we should never forget that.
Also, if you’ve never heard Sinéad cover Cole Porter’s “You Do Something to Me,” consider this my St. Patrick’s Day gift to you.