#958: 1987, Sinead O’Connor, Troy

by Jackie_South on November 20, 2014

George East has set us a theme for our current selection of songs: Great Debut Records. It is on the surface quite an easy one to do: think of a great artist, think of their first song decide if wa any good, check if we’ve featured it before, job done.

So, for my picks I’ve been a bit more selective: great debut songs by young women inspired by literature.

Here’s young Sinead inspired by a Yeats poem, No Second Troy, where Ireland’s greatest bard wrote “Why, what could she have done being what she is?/Was there another Troy for her to burn?”. O’Connor plays with those lines to sing about destructive relationships and angry broken hearts.

Listening this again, it still feels astonishing for a debut: simple orchestral strings, a remarkable vocal range on display, a very un-poppish single length of 6 minutes 15 seconds. Deliberately sticking two fingers up at the music industry’s attempt to make her the Irish Madonna, she has shaved her hair off, but apparently slightly ineptly leaving a small stray tuft of hair giving her the look of a wide-eyed, freshly-plucked chick. The soft, tender look and sound feels achingly vulnerable, singing of hurt and abandonment. But as the song progresses, strains of strength seems to bubble through, flashes of anger that are initially brought quickly under control but the tome turns to confusion rather than sorrow, then defiance, then casting the blame. It is a simply astounding emotional rollercoaster of a record.

Whilst her tears in Nothing Compares 2U might be the iconic image we recall of her, this is a masterpiece of balancing vulnerability and strength.

Oh, and a couple of thoughts on the video. First, whilst this might not be swinging round naked or licking sledgehammers, but how does all the apparent nudity support Sinead’s much-publicised matronising of Miley Cyrus? Second, having recently watched Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point with George East, is the exploding barn here a lift from that film’s climax?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ray_North November 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Nice choice.
A song I’d forgotten.


Ray_North November 20, 2014 at 1:56 pm

…. though I fear we may struggle with ‘Great Debut Songs from young women inspired by Literature week’ as you appear to have bagged the only two songs that fulfil that criteria.
(cue George with some obscure Oklahoma country singer immortalising the works Steinbeck)


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