The power of imagery, coupled with a powerful voice, on top of a ferocious song. That is how I became a Sinead O’Connor fan.
I remember her on the Grammys. I was eleven. She was very young, her head shaved, looking unlike anyone I had ever seen before. There was a comment in the room about how she would be so pretty if she had long hair. I dismissed it immediately as unnecessary. She was gorgeous and then she sang! Ohmigod, that voice. And she plowed through “Mandinka” like a woman possessed. While there are few Sinead albums and songs I will not defend and love to the hilt ( overall, she is greatly under appreciated, as most difficult and opinionated women are), there is something about her début albums twin masterpiece songs “Mandinka” ( a rager, full of epic guitars and a pre-chorus that wails) and “Troy” ( darker, slower, but equally powerful with an even more striking video to go along with it) that speaks to me nearly thirty years on. I never felt like my voice was heard, and I felt dismissed by everyone around me. My opinions have been invalidated time and time again. I’m drawn to Sinead because she has the strength to be herself in the face of overwhelming odds. I wish to be strong like that, but I am unwilling to do so out of fear.
My blood races every time I hear “Mandinka”. And I suspect that will always be the case.