An ME tribute to Dolores O’Riordan, Queen of Limerick

“She had such strength of conviction, yet she could speak to the fragility in all of us.” – U2

I had put it out of my mind that she had passed on until I heard a Cranberries song on the radio and then I felt sad. I really dug her singing and I really liked the band. They weren’t the kind of band I’d necessarily go see but I bought some of their stuff and always enjoyed them on the radio.

I guess the first song I heard by the Cranberries was perhaps their most popular one, 1993’s “Linger.” Dolores says it was about her “first kiss.” But it sounds to me like a hurt song:

So why were you holding her hand?
Is that the way we stand?
Were you lying all the time?
Was it just a game to you?

But I’m in so deep
You know I’m such a fool for you
You’ve got me wrapped around your finger
Do you have to let it linger?

Spotify link

She was 46 when she died. Forty-fucking-six. What’s that all about? I knew the sadness in her song; I didn’t know the sadness in her life. Somebody she trusted sexually abused her as a kid. So it goes. Does anyone really recover from that? I don’t know, I’m just asking.

In 1990 she became the lead singer of a band called Cranberry Saw Us and with her unmistakable Irish voice and lyrics (music by guitarist Noel Hogan), helped bring the band to world fame. Wikipedia: “The Cranberries have sold over 40 million records worldwide. The band achieved four top 20 albums on the Billboard 200 chart and eight top 20 singles on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.”

Here’s a song I loved and used to listen to all the time. It’s called “Ode to My Family.” I actually haven’t heard this in years. Still great:

Spotify link

The band stayed big throughout the ’90’s, breaking up in 2003. They got back together in 2009, she had a solo career but pop is fickle and the world had moved on. She had kids – three of ’em – and her marriage broke up in 2014.

Shit happened, she got in some trouble on a flight. the loss of her marriage didn’t help. And then she developed back problems that really prevented her from playing with the band. She lost her way. It happens. Rock seems like a glamorous life. It’s not, I think.

Can you be Irish and not have to write a song about The Troubles? Maybe now you can thankfully. “Zombie” is a powerful, pissed-off song:

Spotify link

You know the rest, right? On January 15, 2018, she checked into a hotel in London. Reportedly she’d been in good spirits, even writing some new songs. And then she died. Like that. Over. As of yet, they don’t know the cause of death. But we do, don’t we? A small girl from Limerick, a tough life.

“I’m the Queen of Limerick” she shouted when she lost her shit on the airline before she was diagnosed as bipoloar. You know what Dolores Mary Eileen O’Riordan? You truly were. God rest.

Spotify link

20 thoughts on “An ME tribute to Dolores O’Riordan, Queen of Limerick

  1. When I heard “Zombie” for the first time, I was blown away by O’Riordan’s voice. It was very powerful and at the same time somewhat weird with her wailing. I know no other vocalist who sounded like her.

    I’m not familiar with The Cranberries in great detail but know and like all the tunes you highlighted.

    And yes, 46 is incredibly young.
    Of course, rock is notorious for untimely death. While the circumstances were different, just look at three other artists you and I dig: Duane Allman (24), Jimi Hendrix (27) and Stevie Ray Vaughan (35).

    One really wonders what music would have been like if these three and so many other artists who passed away at a young age would have been around for a longer time!


    1. Yeah, who knows? Such a damn shame. I didn’t know much about her background and so, on hearing it, seemed doubly sad. The good news is we still have all the music of these great artists.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m also not that familiar with The Cranberries but, as christiansmusicmusings said, you picked some really nice songs here. I particularly liked Zombie. Thanks, Jim.


  3. A nice post, Jim… I hadn’t thought much about the Cranberries for a good few years until I read the news about O’Riordan. She had a unique voice… so expressive and one that struck you and became immediately recognisable.

    I dare say it was her voice that really separated the band from a lot of the other acts that were prominent on radio and suchlike at the time.

    But I can’t say I delved into albums… I became familiar with the singles for one reason or another and, well, they’re great singles. Listening to them now, they’re still great… and that voice. Wow.


    1. Yeah, outstanding. They definitely stood out as a breath of fresh air. I loved ‘Ode to My Family.’ Think I’ll listen to it now in fact.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Certainly her songs tended toward the melancholy. I confess I didn’t know much about her past till recently.


    1. Yes, it’s a sad thing and I hate to keep seeing it. As to the tunes, yes it’s good for us jazz/blues lovers to crawl out of our caves. That said, if CB doesn’t love my next post, I will eat my own head with a side of poutine

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I liked this latest post. You touched my Irish soul. I love so much that comes out of the country, old and new. I’ll be giving this music some time.
        Be careful what you wager Doc. You just never know about old CB.


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