Sinéad O'Connor

— 4 minute read

Shuhada' Sadaqat, professionally known as Sinéad O'Connor, died this week. A lot of the conversation is around the force and power of her voice, rightfully so. One of her best performances in my mind is "You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart" from the soundtrack for In the Name of the Father, the Jim Sheridan film from 1993. Such a beautifully powerful voice. Her wail touches the soul.

Outside of music fans she's perhaps most well known for her 1992 appearance on Saturday Night Live in which she ripped up a picture of the Pope in an attempt to raise awareness and protest against sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church and its continued cover-up - which occurred nine years before John Paul II acknowledged the sexual abuse within the Church. I love that she took something that everyone assumed was a "cancel" moment, and made it something that put her back on track artistically. From Wikipedia:

In her 2021 book Rememberings, O'Connor said of the incident: "Everyone wants a pop star, see? But I am a protest singer. I just had stuff to get off my chest. I had no desire for fame." In the same memoir, she also wrote that she felt like the incident actually put her "back on the right track", following a personal crisis stemming from the success of "Nothing Compares 2 U". Moreover, she revealed that she had taken down the picture of Pope John Paul II from her mother's bedroom wall on the day of her death, and waited until the right moment to destroy it as an act of personal revenge to the physical abuse she suffered as a child, writing, "Child abuse is an identity crisis and fame is an identity crisis, so I went straight from one identity crisis into another"

There's an episode of the podcast "You're Wrong About" that covers Sinéad's story, albeit in a very surface level way that barely scratches the surface of Sinéad's story.

This Is To Mother You permalink

Today I was reminded of Sinéad's Gospel Oak EP Apple Music / Spotify Youtube, released in 1997. At some point I got a copy of the album on CD and listened to it a lot over the years. But when I made the switch to digital streaming, lost track of it and hadn't listened to it much in recent memory.

The opening track is titled "This is to Mother You". I have no idea who or what Sinéad's actual inspiration was for the song, but it's possible the song was inspired by the birth of her daughter, Brigidine, in early 1996. Or, based on the official music video which has Sinéad and Kris Kristofferson rolling around in bed together, it might be something entirely different.

Either way, it's such a beautiful hymn of peace and hope.

This is to mother you
To comfort you and get you through'
Through when your nights are lonely
Through when your dreams are only blue
This is to mother you
This is to be with you
To hold you and to kiss you, too
For when you need me I will do
What your own mother didn't do
Which is to mother you
All the pain that you have known
All the violence in your soul
All the wrong things you have done
I will take from you when I come
All mistakes made in distress
All your unhappiness
I will take away with my kiss, yes
I will give you tenderness
For child I am so glad I found you
Although my arms have always been around you
Sweet bird although you did not see me
I saw you
I'm here to mother you
To comfort you and get you through
Through when your nights are lonely
Through when your dreams are only blue
This is to mother you

Songwriters: Sinéad O Connor
This Is to Mother You lyrics © Hipgnosis Sfh I Limited