In the event of the death of Sinéad O'Connor, this post is in her memory. People who know me know that I am an enormous admirer of Sinéad, and have been for a really long time. And this is why:
She is a giant, musically. She was unable to not make music. She literally vibrated.
She is an absolutely poetic, compelling and ravishing songwriter and her voice is indescribable.
She became unbelievably famous and wanted to use her platform to talk about the human condition even though nobody wanted to hear it.
She was full of fear, and astonishingly brave.
Pointedly, she always put her money where her mouth was: the 2nd time she was nominated, she boycotted the Grammy awards in protest of commercialism, exploitation and racism. She won anyway, and refused the award. The next year, she staged a "sneak attack" and protested child abuse on national live TV. Then, she stared down a furious mob at Madison Square Garden, responding not by singing the song that was planned, but by screaming into the mic the same song that had infuriated the mob only a few weeks before. (Bob Marley's War ... it must be seen to be believed.) She silenced the crowd, and stalked off the stage.
She made herself exceedingly unpopular with very important people and half of America. She spent the next decades making beautiful music, touring, leading an alternately wild and domestic life; and continuing to cause trouble and talk to anybody who would listen about what was important about being a human. She was intelligent and fiery, admittedly and infamously a deeply flawed individual. She recorded a lot and has quite a catalog, which I would encourage anybody to explore.
To the generations who have come after Sinéad and don't know her, I am writing to tell you why you should: she was willing to put her neck completely on the line so that we could acknowledge the truth of what we do to each other, specifically grown people beating up children; powerful people beating up those without power. Consequentially, angry and hurt people are beating up other people who are smaller than they are, spreading anger and hurt.
She is on a very short list (of one, I believe) of artists who were willing to do this. She paid the price, and she played a big part in changing our world.
Hopefully, there will always be rare people like Sinéad who are willing to lead the way; and zillions of "mere mortals" who will be inspired, and do the small things that we can to help others to feel less small.
"As artists I believe our function is to express the feelings of the human race–to always speak the truth and never keep it hidden even though we are operating in a world which does not like the sound of the truth. I believe that our purpose is to inspire and, in some way, guide and heal the human race, of which we are all equal members.”
Farewell Sinéad. Safe journey.
Irish fighting song.