I’ll be honest: the reason why I started exploring The Cranberries’ music was because before watching the video of their 1999 hit, “Promises”, I had never seen a lady wielding an electric guitar. She was the lead vocalist Dolores O’Riordan.
Dolores passed away suddenly, yesterday. She was 46.
The effect of that song then was such that, as it happens when you discover a band, I went into overdrive, fueling much of my music needs from their past hits. It was also the same time I heard another magical song, “Animal Instinct”, from the same album, “Bury The Hatchet”.
“Animal Instinct” and “Promises” were very different songs. While the latter was full of anger and edged towards a tone of hatred, “Animal Instinct” was a tad depressing though it bordered around hope – and this song gave me so much inspiration during one such difficult phase of my life. In “Promises”, Dolores’ tone was of questioning and her voice was angry and commanding – much like her electric guitar. In “Animal Instinct”, her voice was sombre just as the song’s mood and tone.
In the years that followed I discovered more gems from this band but two songs come to my mind as I write this: “Ode to My Family” and “Bosnia”.
“Bosnia” has so much anger in it that it is difficult to fathom how much of it Dolores must have held within her when she wrote that song. It is very hard to empathize with the emotional state of “Bosnia” because most of us are privileged not to have witnessed the horrors of war and this is precisely what the song attempts to address, with these lines:
“I would like to state my vision
Life was so unfair.
We live in our secure surroundings
And people die out there.”
“And we all sing songs in our rooms
SARAJEVO erects another tomb”
Her words are simple but I remember losing myself into the depths of this song, depressed and angry.
And then there she was, in “Ode to My Family”, yearning for a simple life, after all that fame had brought to her. I believe it was her insecurity when she wrote these words:
“Understand what I’ve become,
It wasn’t my design.
And people everywhere think something
Better than I am”.
The thing about songs like these is that you may not be able relate to the cause of a song completely; and then you manage to find a home in a few verses that can be applied to your state and what surrounds you – and a few listens later your emotional state is such that it is defined by those few verses of that song.
Dolores’ wrote songs like that, for me. It is for these songs that I am going to miss her.
And I can’t think of any better lines to end this post – these come from a song she wrote for Denny Cordell:
“They say that you’ve passed away, And I hope you’ve gone to a better place”.