Wednesday, June 16

Memories of Sinéad O’Connor Review: A Tremendous Catalog of Misconduct | Autobiography and memoirs


When she was young and starting out in music, Sinéad O’Connor rarely did what she was told. When Nigel Grainge, an executive at her label, asked her to stop wearing her hair short and dress more like a girl, she went straight out and shaved her head. While recording her first album, she found out she was pregnant, prompting Grainge to call her doctor and tell him to warn her not to have a baby. The doctor duly told him that women shouldn’t take babies on tour, but they shouldn’t go on tour without them either. O’Connor ignored them both and had his son anyway.

Then, in 1992, during a performance at Saturday night live, tore a photo of Pope John Paul II and ruined his career. He knew exactly what he was doing. “Everybody wants a pop star, see?” she writes. But I am a protest singer. I just had things to get off my chest. I had no desire for fame. “

RegardsSo it’s a tremendous catalog of female misconduct. Musical memoirs tend to follow similar trajectories of ambition, success, and depravity, followed by repentance and redemption. But O’Connor has no regrets and redemption is not required, at least not for her. He wanted to earn a living as a performer, but his idea of ​​success was not the same as other people’s. “I define success by whether I fulfill the contract I made with the Holy Spirit before making one with the music business,” he explains. “I never signed anything that said I would be a good girl.”

The writing is sober and conversational, revealing O’Connor as self-critical, pragmatic, and a keen observer. She is fun too. During a US tour in 1990, there was an outcry after it was reported that she had demanded that “The Star-Spangled Banner” not be played prior to her concerts. MC Hammer made quite a show by buying him a first-class plane ticket back to Ireland, while Frank Sinatra said they should kick his butt. People started smashing his albums outside of his record company headquarters in New York. “Intensely angry old men (with pointy noses) driving bulldozers,” he yells. In the end, O’Connor donned a wig and sunglasses and joined the crowd. When a news crew appeared, he gave an interview pretending to be from Saratoga. “It was later on the news, with the caption It’s her? Running and rerunning my ‘interview’ footage. Aha-ha-ha-ha-ha! “

As a child, O’Connor endured fierce beatings from her mother. She once won an award in kindergarten for being able to roll into the smallest ball, “but my teacher never knew why she could do so well.” He rarely went to school and stole compulsively: “If something is not nailed, I am stealing it.” He picked up his mother’s habit, who took the money from the collection plate at mass instead of putting it in. Later, she and her mother stole from the charity cans. Filled with guilt, O’Connor went to see her local priest, who made her promise to pay her back when she got a job, and that way she would be at peace with God (she was true to her word, giving her home in Los Angels). to the Red Cross). She finally left home to live with her father after her mother locked her and her siblings in the garden overnight. She later recalls being sent to a convent boarding school, where a nun bought her a guitar and a book of Bob Dylan songs and encouraged her to sing.

There are also top stories of his success, most of them underscoring the emptiness of the experience. She is summoned to visit Prince, whom she brilliantly calls “Ol ‘Fluffy Cuffs”, and who treats her atrociously. He scolds her for swearing, demands that she eat soup even though she has refused, and insists on a pillow fight. It turns out that his pillow has something solid on it: “He’s not playing at all.” She runs out of the house and heads to a nearby road, though Prince catches up with her in his car and orders her to turn back. He eventually escapes through a stranger’s entrance and rings the bell.

In the foreword to the book, O’Connor says that before breaking the pope’s image, she never had a chance to find herself. “But I think you will see in this book a girl who does it she finds herself, “she writes,” not by success in the music industry, but by seizing the opportunity to sensibly and truly lose her marbles. The thing is, after you lose them, you find them and play better. “While his childhood and rise to fame provide rich material, O’Connor, 54, says he can’t remember much of the past. 20 years, “because I was not really present until six months ago.”

As such, the final chapters, which traverse his marriages, children, a traumatic hysterectomy, and episodes in mental institutions, are episodic. But they remain, like the rest of his book, full of heart, humor, and remarkable generosity. The postscript comes in the form of a letter to his father. “Please know that your daughter would have been as crazy as a fucking fruitcake and as crazy as crazy even if she had had Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary as parents and had grown up in the Little House on the Prairie,” she says. he. “So don’t kick the walls unless it’s just for fun.”

Memories is a Penguin post (£ 20). To support The Guardian, request your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Shipping charges may apply.


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