Here's a tragic companion to yesterday's post- Dolores O'Riordan, the lead singer of the Cranberries, has died at the all-too-young age of forty-six. I don't recall the 1990s as being a banner decade for music, but the standout bands for me were rock bands that were fronted by charismatic female vocalists. Among these standout bands was The Cranberries from Limerick, Ireland. Their first album, released in 1993, happened to coincide with an Irish Renaissance in the New York metro area- a poor economy in Éire drove a wave of immigration to NYC and much of the Irish immigrant community migrated from the Norwood section of the Bronx to the Woodlawn/McLean neighborhood which straddles the Bronx/Yonkers border (my neighborhood). Locally, the storied Rory Dolan's pub opened in 1994, and internationally, Riverdance swelled into a cultural juggernaut (for the record, I still chuckle at Michael Flatley jokes). The decade was perfect for the release of a debut album by a Very Irish band, and the Cranberries fit the bill.
The band immediately made an impression on me with the ethereal single Dreams, a perfect showcase of Ms O'Riordan's vocal range, from breathy to belting:
It's here where I confess that, if I can be said to have a 'type', it's gaminesque Black Irish heartbreakers like Ms O'Riordan, which is a factor in my fanboi status and my current melancholy.
The band's 1994 second album opened up with the political song Zombie, written to protest a 1993 bombing by the provisional IRA, a splinter group of which committed the horrific Omagh bombing. The song charted throughout the world, having resonance wherever bitter dead-enders cling to their hatred and violence:
In 1994, I went with a bunch of friends to see the band play the Beacon Theatre, a really amazing music venue on Manhattan's West Side.
After a run of albums throughout the 90s, the band seemed to fizzle out, but they recently mounted somewhat of a comeback:
The best way to remember Ms O'Riordan is to blast her music, so here's a 1999 concert video by The Cranberries:
News of her death came as a dreadful surprise, but the, forgive the expression, lingering melancholy is knowing that a voice which formed a big part of the soundtrack to a fantastic time of my life has been stilled.