July 2023
RIP Sinéad

RIP Sinéad - 7/26/23

I was a teenager when Sinéad O’Connor “broke through”
And it really did feel like a breaking
Tidal wave of truthfulness cascade of reality
Bombs going off internally that felt to everybody
Listening like Revolution

I remember hearing that they put her on -
This Alternative fast-emerging icon -
In front of someone massive (MC Hammer
I think it was) at Madison Square Garden
And people didn’t quite know how to react

Shaved head and seriousness, pushing play
On a reel to reel singing dervishly over a loop
That seemed to broadcast “I’m here to disrupt”
In the same breath as “I am a folk singer dressed
As a goth” and somewhere around then

I was signed to Debbie Gibson’s manager
He set me up with two older men to produce me
They wanted me to sit on their laps they wanted
Me not to tell my mom they were doing drugs
All of this in exchange for some misguided

Promise of opportunity to simply do what I already
Loved I remember the day my sister brought
Home The Lion and the Cobra and I thought
Wow this is it - I don’t have to be flanked by
Dancers or put my music to a cheesy beat

I can cover my body reasonably I can sing
About issues that bother me I can be like Sinead
I can be myself and maybe actually share my story
When I got to college I recall listening to
Three Babies on repeat and eventually I

Summoned the courage to play it on piano
At my local coffeehouse gig there was something
About this music - the antitheses of everything
Quintessentially commercial - that made my hairs
Stand on end that made me want to actually

Move to Ireland…so I did. Yes I moved to Dublin
For an entire season to soak in some kind of
Spiritual connection to the place where Sinéad
Was forged poetry all around me Yeats and Irish
History The Frames and working at The Abbey

Falling in love with an Irishman and walking through
St. Stephen’s Green my Walkman comforting me
I would probably have never found the “break” in
My voice - that Lilith Fair era yodel of choice -
Upon which I lean so often for emphasis as much

As for some semblance of primal dissonance
Were it not for Sinéad I went to see her more
Than a few years ago in Tarrytown with my
MPress Records team she was so polished, so focused,
So uninterrupted everyone expected more drama

What we got was a living precipice
Each song a timeless ode to empathy each lyric
A representation of humanity’s inability to
Sustain what’s humane her gift was her
Conviction amplified by such passion even whispering

You felt her soul wrapped in a sound with as
Much control as her life seemed to become chaotic
I know mental illness well. My first fiddle player
Charlie took his own life and was found hanging
By his belt in an airport. He was the first

Instrumentalist I ever played with in college who
Was not a drum machine or a synthesizer
We played Three Babies and passed around a tip
Jar I had no idea he was clinically depressed and
Also an addict and it was his parents eventually

Who broke the news I was seventeen and it was
Hard to wrap my head around
I will picture Sinéad and Charlie and as some
Have suggested Tony Bennett jamming in heaven
Playing songs of celebration and