Divya Iyer, I Year B.S.W
Image Source: http://www.cranberriesworld.com
It’s January 15th, 2018, and one of my favourite blogs has stopped posting what they usually post, choosing instead to flood my dashboard with pictures of the Cranberries lead singer, Dolores O’ Riordan. This doesn’t bother me in the least. I’ve always admired Dolores. Her singing is unique and her voice and her style are both so typical to her. The lilt in her voice, the way she sings with her Irish accent instead of putting on an American one like most of us tend to do, the vibes she gives off as a singer- unapologetic, thoughtful, confident – I mean, what’s there not to love? She does her own thing, and she does it well.
Unfortunately, as I am soon to find out, the sudden Cranberries spam has a more unfortunate reason than random Dolores appreciation. January 15th this year marks the day of her passing away, news that was unexpected, shocking everyone when it came to light. There had been no signs to indicate that her end was near, and even though she had health issues and such things in the past, she seemed to have recovered, and was hyped to make new music. It hadn’t sunk in at the time. If I’m being honest, it still hasn’t sunk in.
I think back to being 14 and finding the Cranberries on my dad’s computer and how listening to them made me feel energised. There was something so rejuvenating about it, about listening to a rock/heavy metal band with a female lead singer who didn’t seem to care what people thought about her. Later on, reading up about her, I was surprised to find that she’d had a difficult childhood and struggled with her mental health. She exuded so much positivity. She sounded like hope and defiance to me and in some way was a beacon to me at the time. Knowing that the Cranberries existed and that I could listen to them anytime filled me with a feeling of safety, if that makes sense. They join the treasured space in my head, of music that meant more to me than just something to hum under my breath, music that I would remember and cherish all through my life.
We’d listen to them on road trips. My sister and I would sing along and I would try (with varied amounts of success) to get my voice to sound as much like hers as I could. What can I say? I really liked her Irish accent, but more than that, her voice – it was so folksy and strong, so touching yet tough. The Cranberries had so many different types of songs – some that were soft and soothing, some that were typical heavy metal. I loved it all.
On the 15th of January, at around 4 in the afternoon, my sister told me to come and watch the television tribute to Dolores. We both smiled through it all, because while it was sad that she was gone, the fact that she’d existed at all, and that we’d been alive while she had, was a miracle.
Later on, I find a Cranberries CD that’s a recording of a live concert that I’d bought some time in 2017. I remember listening to it once, and being full of a feeling greater than myself. “I’d like to see them perform live,” I’d thought. They sounded as good live as they did recorded, if not better, and furthermore, Dolores seemed to have great stage presence. I don’t know how I could tell that from a CD, but I could. She’d get the crowd to sing along, and she spoke to the crowd every now and then, commenting not only on what song they were going to perform next, but also making casual remarks about the weather and their experience in the city, and at a few points, yelling encouragement to the fans who were singing along. It was truly phenomenal.
How do you miss someone you don’t know? All I know about her is all I’ve read, all I’ve heard, but even those little fragments of a person were able to impact me. It’s remarkable, how much we can impact and influence each other. I think about how I’d sing her songs under my breath during school trips and how my sister used to listen to her music when she couldn’t sleep, when she was younger. Dolores O’ Riordan has definitely had an impact on my life, and the lives of millions of other people who she probably never knew. If that’s not wonderful, I don’t know what is.