Saturday, May 29, 2010

406. I do not want what I haven't got. Not just a good title but admirable sentiments.

Album: I do not want what I haven't got.
Artist: Sinead O'Connor
Year: 1990
Genre: Pop.


1. Feel So Different
2. I Am Stretched On Your Grave
3. Three Babies
4. The Emperor's New Clothes
5. Black Boys On Mopeds
6. Nothing Compares 2 U
7. Jump In The River
8. You Cause As Much Sorrow
9. The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance
10. I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got

I can't help but feel sorry for Sinead O'Connor. It seems like her career followed a fairly vicious trajectory- she started as "the next big thing" then became "The controversial singer" and then "The increasingly erratic singer" and finally seems to have become "whatever happened to Sinead O'connor?" While technically she's a singer-songwriter her most recognizable song is a cover and her songwriting talents have been totally overshadowed by her outspoken antics and even her haircut. I have to confess that when I try and recall Sinead now I can't actually picture how she looks. I know she had a shaved head but then so do I so when I imagine her I can only see myself shaving, which is not a good look. To be honest the image that stays with me more than the woman herself is the satirized version that appeared on a Father Ted episode. It's never good when your image has been taken over by a parody.

The music on I do Not Want has been totally overshadowed by it's biggest selling song. Nothing compares 2 U is what I like to think of as "A found cover" in the sense that it's a huge hit the second time around when it was basically ignored in it's initial form. Prince wrote Nothing compares 2 U and threw it on an album somewhere as a filler track which everyone promptly ignored. But at some point O'Connor, or possibly her record producer or maybe even her hair dresser recommended she have a stab at it. I've never heard the original (not many people have) but I imagine being a Prince song it's sort of whiney and creepy in it's attempts to be erotic. O'Connor sings as if she means every word and spent hours crafting every line herself. It became her signature song, which when you think about it must be annoying if you consider yourself a serious songwriter. You can appreciate how annoying it must be to go out onstage every night playing songs you poured your heart into only to get the biggest cheer when you play the opening few notes of someone else's song.

The rest of the album is just the sort of stuff that must really annoy record executives. You get the feeling that with a bit of lyrical tweaking it could have been full of the sort of songs that sell albums to mainstream female fans. Throwing away the political edge and introducing more romantic whimsy would make it a lot more marketable. I wonder how many people purchased this album hoping for a set of tunes that sounded like Nothing Compares 2 U and instead got songs like Black Boys on Mopeds which opens with the lines:
"Margareth Thatcher on TV

Shocked by the deaths that took place in Beijing
It seems strange that she should be offended
The same orders are given by her"

Listening to I Do Not Want is a strange experience. Musically it didn't move me at all but I can't help but be moved by O'Conner herself. A young woman who felt she had something to say but was reduced to a parody by a culture that didn't want her to say anything, they just wanted her to shut up and sing love songs. It seems to me that the English media sucked all the life out of a talented young singer by turning her into a walking headline and then reveling in the erratic behavior that their persecution caused. I actually had quite a strong reaction to this CD although it wasn't related to the music- I wanted to break the cover in half to form a weapon and stalk press conferences stabbing anyone who has ever used the phrase "The public has a right to know."

Influenced by: Celtic music and Thatcher.
Influenced: Women who wanted an outspoken role model.

Highlight: I am stretched on your grave (sadly it's another cover)
Lowlight: Nothing Compares 2 U

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "This is why I have the babies. My beautiful female babies named Matilda y Brazilda. It's all about the beats and rhytms of this song, coupled with Chris's (i will nevah stop putting 's, Mr. Ward...kiss my fanny bo banny) creamy sexy tone to her voice. My wife likes my bump and grind to this. PUMP up this jam, Chris O'Donnell cause noffing will compare to the you and the tendaness we feel when we caress each other's bodies and make love to your "moody musy". Oh my lands! "

-What the hell is that about? Part of me wants to know but a larger part is more than happy to remain ignorant.

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