I still have my CD!

What The Cranberries Taught Me About Music Activism and Love Songs

Truth be told — I was ready to take the lighter more scenic route before I heard the news of the tragic demise of Dolores O’Riordan — the delightfully fiery lead singer of The Cranberries — the indie-pop/pop-rock/Irish folk group that dominated the earlier part of the nineties with such hits like “Linger”, and “Dreams” and “Zombie.”

A 2003 review of the group’s debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? — paid homage to the stellar contributions of the members — almost a decade later — by pointing out the reasons why the music maintained its relevance back when the artists of that era were immersed in similar coding:

“while the Cranberries’s music is firmly rooted in the pop-scape of the early ’90s, their dreamy sonic textures and plaintive melodies weren’t exactly something everybody else was doing.”

My affair with The Cranberries was able to thrive because I had experienced the passionate renderings of another Irish gem — U2.

I was old enough to understand the political messaging of The Joshua Tree (1987) and the cultural analysis of 1991’s mega-hit Achtung Baby. From the heart-wrenching ballad of “Where The Streets Have No Name” to the gratifyingly potent “Zoo Station” — I was trained to recognize how music activism can serve as the beating heart of lyrics — that combine the treachery of humanity with the sorrow of unrequited love.

This was the state I was in when I peeped the video for “Zombie” from the group’s second effort — No Need To Argue (1994) — and fell under the spell of O’Riordan who graphically illustrated her magnificent range — combined with the heavily enchanting pace of the track — that depicted the imagery I had come to appreciate and respect. I had the capacity to enjoy the melodious wail of injustice against the backdrop of a tortured wasteland with bodies circling the buried destiny of those who were born too soon.

It was then that I backtracked to the goodies like “Linger,” “Dreams,” and “Put Me Down” and discovered the catalog of hits that would forever mark the time of my life when youthful tendencies permitted the freedom to visualize more than I could carry.

I also matured with the battalion of wisdom that gave me insight into how artistic vibes are inter-connected through the giver and the receiver. Not to mention the pride of a voice that not only yodels — but also gives tears the sound they need in order to fall with grace and awareness.

As a writer — I try to convey emotions that won’t settle until they are marked on pages and strewn all over the figurations of algorithms and the sum of all the parts of why I can find a million and one ways to express the evil of racism — and the callousness of aging — without taking time to breathe.

What O’Riordan and her band of geniuses managed to deliver was splendidly amplified by the furious nature of being a survivor while also preparing for the impending storms that rage for and against us.

We must let love die in order to be reborn. And we can’t exist in heaven without the heat of hell burning through the scales with enough frequency to warrant another triumphant rebel yell.

Dolores O’Riordan is dead, but not really.

I’m listening to her now and I expect this will continue until my own words overtake me and my soul returns to that place I won’t recall until I return.

In the meantime I will keep all I’ve learned around me — especially when the dreams I dreamed a long time ago nudge me back to harmony.

Oh my life is changing everyday
In every possible way
And oh my dreams
It’s never quite as it seems
Never quite as it seems

I know I felt like this before
But now I’m feeling it even more
Because it came from you
Then I open up and see
The person falling here is me
A different way to be

I want more, impossible to ignore
Impossible to ignore
And they’ll come true
Impossible not to do
Possible not to do

And now I tell you openly
You have my heart so don’t hurt me
You’re what I couldn’t find
A totally amazing mind
So understanding and so kind
You’re everything to me

Oh my life is changing everyday
In every possible way
And oh my dreams
It’s never quite as it seems
’Cause you’re a dream to me
Dream to me

Songwriters: Dolores Mary O’riordan / Noel Hogan

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