She could sing like no other. She wrote hushed hymns and wailing battle cries. She hiccuped her way into the hearts of music lovers world-wide and turned a defiant protest song about her homeland into an international hit. Dolores O’Riordan was a force to be reckoned with and one of the most well known voices of Irish music for more than twenty-five years.
The last few years have not been kind to many of my musical idols. To be fair, many were older already and had lived full and wild lives so their passing was not necessarily a surprise but when you lose childhood heroes like David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen it still hurts. This week Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries has joined them, which was shocking. O’Riordan was young and she had three children. She was just starting to record again and get back on her feet. I was looking forward to hearing what she was going to do next, as were many others and this terrible news means that we’ll never know.
It was the tear heard around the world. In one split (ahem) second Sinead O’Connor defiantly threw her figurative middle fingers in the air, lost a record amount of fans, and got banned from Saturday Night Live with her protest of the Catholic church. Many of the flock still haven’t forgiven her even now, twenty-five years later.
This one is just for the locals here on the wrong side of the puddle in California. It’s rare that San Francisco gets good rebel music these days – in fact, it’s about to become even more rare. Sean Daly and the Shams are one of the only semi-local Irish rebel bands here and this Saturday night will be their last performance in the bay. They’re going out with a bang and playing with Derek Warfield and the Young Wolfe Tones for one night in San Francisco.
The true tale about a fairy tale….and the story behind the greatest Christmas song of all time. If you haven’t watched this particular ‘Making of’ there’s no better or more appropriate time than to remedy that than on Christmas eve (babe)… and this is especially true given that the Pogues’ touring manager Frank Murray just passed. Merry holidays to you all, whichever one you celebrate this time of year.
Sinead O’Connor is a polarizing artist. She imploded her own rising career by tearing up a picture of the pope in 1992 and has never been able to reclaim it entirely. She is known for being a bit crazy, somewhat suicidal, and incredibly volatile. She involves herself in meaningless Twitter feuds, and makes wild accusations. She rewrote the Irish National Anthem, and has written numerous incendiary letters to the Irish government. Most recently she is collecting lawsuits after accusing Arsenio Hall of being Prince’s drug dealer. She’s kooky and cantankerous, and I still love her. She’s also missing. Continue reading
On May 3rd, 1916, Grace Gifford walked into a jewelry store in Dublin. Her eyes were red and she had obviously been crying. She bought her own ring and left with it in hand. Grace was on her way to Kilmainham Gaol to marry Joseph Plunkett, the love of her life. She knew that her family didn’t approve and that she’d be a widow just a few hours after the wedding but she chose to marry him anyway. The executions of the leaders of the Easter Rising had begun that same day. Patrick Pearse, Tom Clarke, and Thomas MacDonagh were executed for their roles in the Easter Rising and her beloved would soon join them.
When the universe decided to plant The Big Irish Fair right in the middle of my birthday weekend, it was giving me a gift. The festival may not have the most original name on the planet, but it certainly seems like there’s truth in their advertising. There are 15 different stages for music – everything from Traditional Irish seisiúns and Bagpipe Battles to more modern Irish rock bands, including one of my favorites – the Young Dubliners.
I can’t say I’m sorry to see 2014 go, or that I am naive enough to think that just because it is a new year, things will suddenly be better – but I can say, I’m glad this year is over. Before Auld Lang Sine there was another song that was a popular New Year’s Eve anthem and this year, I will send 2014 off right with a traditional song by one of my favorite non-traditional singers.
Athbhliain faoi mhaise dhaoibh.
May the best days of 2014 be the worst of 2015 for us all. Sláinte!
Sinead O’Connor is many things. She is a strong woman. She is a talented musician. She imploded her rising career when she tore up a picture of the pope which she was uniquely entitled to do, given her suffering in the Magdalene Laundries. Most of the world hasn’t heard of or from her since. But now, so many years after that first provocative act, she has done another – and this time around, she has thrown down a gauntlet and called for a revolt against the Irish government, by any means necessary.