Friday , June 21 2024

Sinéad O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares To U” – Its Brilliance is Her Legacy

Sinéad O’Connor’s passing this week at age 56 is a shocker. It’s the kind of slap in the face that we get when someone we have admired dies unexpectedly. Yet, in her passing, there is a reminder of her iconic version of the song “Nothing Compares to U.” Its brilliance is her legacy. In retrospect, I always admired her take on the song and realize now how unique and brave it was.

Untimely Death

Perhaps all deaths are untimely; however, there is something extremely jarring about people dying before their time. Recently, the great Tony Bennett died, and there were many articles and stories about him. At 96, I can accept the idea that he lived a long life and, while I am sad that he is gone, it is not shocking. The deaths of people like Michael Jackson, Prince (who wrote “Nothing Compares to U”), and David Bowie were much more upsetting and certainly were untimely and unexpected.

Mesmerizing Video

On the surface, the video for “Nothing Compares to U” may seem rather boring at first. Considering the great videos over the years like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or Aha’s “Take On Me” were filled with amazing storytelling and great visual content, Sinéad’s video is something of an anomaly.

Sinéad’s “Nothing Compares to U” is amazing for what it is not. Brief glimpses of the singer walking in gardens or standing and staring over a railing are seen, but most of the time is spent focused on her luminous face. Every stitch of emotion, anger, and frustration are visible in her expression.

At that time I would come home and put on MTV as background noise while I did other things; however, when “Nothing Compares to U” would pop up in the rotation (which it did repeatedly in those days), I would stop what I was doing and watch the whole thing every time.

Something Personal

I think the effect on me and obviously many other viewers was that Sinéad was not just singing the song but living it. Great creators can inhabit their work whether they be actors, musicians, singers, or visual artists. When Marlon Brando screams “Stella!” in A Streetcar Named Desire, there are no doubts that he is every ugly inch of the brute Stanley Kowalski. 

Sinéad made this video personal, as if we were sitting across a table from her in a café, and she was telling us her story. It is totally engaging and extremely touching, and at that time I felt like crying with her by the end of the song even after I had seen it seemingly hundreds of times. 

More Than the Song

Overall, Sinead O’Connor’s life was much more than this one song; however, it defined her unique ability to transmit and transcend the medium to send a message of love and grief to her audience. Certainly, she stood out as someone who lived her life on her own terms, no matter what other people said or thought about her. She had a right to her opinion and lifestyle, and she let everyone know in no uncertain terms who Sinéad O’Connor was. 

Rest in Peace

As it happens when people pass away, we start realizing we may have sometimes taken them for granted. I have not thought about Sinéad since last year when I heard about the sad news of her son passing away. I am certain that this most definitely untimely loss took a great toll on her.

I hope now that she is at peace and with her son. She left a mark on the world and will be remembered for her work. We have lost a precious soul with an angelic voice, but I believe that she’s singing with a different kind of choir now.  

About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His new novel, 'Unicorn: A Love Story,' is available as an e-book and in print.

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