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Dolores O’Riordan Gone

from The New Yorker

The Ferocious, Sublime Dolores O’Riordan, of the Cranberries

By Amanda Petrusich

The Irish singer Dolores O’Riordan, who fronted the alt-rock band the Cranberries since 1989, died on Monday, at the age of forty-six. O’Riordan was managing several health issues at the time of her death—she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2015 and had been suffering from back pain, which resulted in the cancellation of a Cranberries reunion tour last year. Her body was found in a hotel on Park Lane, in central London; her death was described as sudden and unexplained.

O’Riordan was born in Ballybricken, in County Limerick, in 1971. She was the youngest of seven children and just eighteen when she joined the Cranberries. Her folks were strict: as a teen-ager, she wasn’t allowed to wear makeup or buy her own clothes. In an interview with the Irish Times, she recalled how the guitarist Noel Hogan brought her a pair of Doc Martens to wear for the band’s first photo shoot. “They were too big for me, but I put them on anyway,” she said. “Suddenly I looked like an indie girl.”

Like many people, the first time I heard her sing was on “Linger,” an early single that ended up in fairly heavy rotation on MTV in 1993. The black-and-white video, directed by Melodie McDaniel, was based loosely on Jean-Luc Godard’s “Alphaville,” a film that considers the potency of desire. It’s a hazy, sentimental song about realizing that you’re on the bummer end of a lopsided relationship. “You know I’m such a fool for you,” O’Riordan sings. She’s asking, in a way, for mercy—a final show of kindness: “You’ve got me wrapped around your finger / Do you have to let it linger?” I wasn’t old enough to understand the particular humiliation of being duped and strung along by someone you loved and trusted, but I nonetheless recognized the deep agony and confusion in her voice when she asked, “Why were you holding her hand?”

Still, it wasn’t until “Zombie,” the first single from the band’s second album, “No Need to Argue,” that the sublime recklessness of O’Riordan’s voice became fully evident. By then, the Cranberries were the most successful Irish rock band since U2. Most of the other rock singers I admired at the time (Kim Gordon, of Sonic Youth; Kim and Kelley Deal, of the Breeders; Kathleen Hanna, of Bikini Kill) sounded plainly and hopelessly cool—disaffected, vaguely antagonistic, and aloof. O’Riordan sounded like a maniac. “Zombie” was written as a memorial for two children—the twelve-year-old Jonathan Ball and the three-year-old Tim Parry—who were killed in an I.R.A. street bombing, in Warrington, England, in 1993 (the explosives were hidden in garbage cans). She goes feral on the chorus: “Zombie-ie-ie-ie-oh-oh-oh-oh!” It’s all terrifically guttural—ugly, wild, and paralyzing. For an American kid, her round Irish accent made the word seem even stranger, as if she were conjuring something otherworldly, only to vanquish it.

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Posted on January 16, 2018 by Editor

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