On the world Sinéad O'Connor found herself in

Here's a thought worth considering.  Maybe Sinéad O'Connor isn't difficult.  Maybe it's the world.  

At the time of her parents divorce, her father was only the second man in Ireland to be granted custody of his children.  

After the divorce, Sinéad's mother becamephysically abusive.  Beatings were frequent and unannounced.  She and her sister were locked up in cupboards, naked, for days at a time.  They were struck with whatever was on hand—hockey sticks, carpet sweepers, a tennis racket.  

“Thank f--k I had a sense of Jesus,” Sinéad once told an interviewer.  “When I was lying on the floor having the s--t kicked out of me, I'd envision Jesus on the top of some hill on the cross, and the blood would run from Jesus's heart down into mine on the floor and that's how I got through being beaten.  I'd concentrate on that image.”

Take her recording career.  Her first record company loved her music, but they thought they knew better about her image.

“They took me out to lunch," she once said, "[and they told me] they’d like me to start wearing short skirts and boots, grow my hair long and do the whole girl thing.  What they were describing was actually their mistresses.  I pointed that out, and they didn’t take it terribly well.  

“So I went to this barber—only a young fella—and he didn’t want to do it.  He was almost crying.  But when he was finished shaving my head, I was delighted with it.”



On the album I Do Not Want What I Have Not Got

Upon completion of the album I Do Not Want What I Have Not Got, her record company told her, “You can't put this out.  It's too personal.”

To which Sinéad O’Connor replied, “People that like me, like me because of that.  That's what I do.”

She told the magazine Hot Press, “these songs were all written during my current phase of contentment and happiness.  They have none of the introspection that dragged some of my earlier songs down.  They're celebrations, affirmations of life.  There's very little sadness in them.”

“I know she thinks it's a happy record,” one record company executive said.  “But it doesn't convey happiness.  It conveys trauma.  And because of our reaction, she thought we didn't like it.”  

Sinéad simply told him, “It's not for men to like.  It's a woman's statement.”


On success

What makes a career a success?  Is it selling 2.5 million copies of a debut album?  Is it being propelled into stardom with a second album that sold 7 million copies...powered by one of the most memorable videos ever produced?  

Or should we measure success in terms of lives touched, hearts moved, thoughts provoked?

Bono recently defended the automatic delivery of U2’s last album to 500 million iTunes users by asking what band wouldn’t enjoy having their music reach that many people.

But Sinéad O’Connor has not sold anywhere near as many albums as her fellow Irishmen.  Or concert tickets.  And yet, somehow, what she has to say is still getting heard around the world.  The sound of one person speaking her truth.