You got me wrapped around your finger,
Do you have to let it linger?
(“Linger” ~ The Cranberries, 1993)
“Zombie” might be the song which most of my generation will remember now on this sad day, when news broke that The Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan had died today, aged 46.
I don’t remember when I first heard that song. I do know that it was an instant hit and consequently “classic” in the club, where we went dancing on the weekends. They played a lot of other rock there too; new and old. Anything from Bon Jovi to Melissa Etherridge, from Queen to The Police, and “I Don’t Like Mondays” to…. “Zombie”. It’s one of the many songs I remember so vividly from these late teens, early 20’s years in my life. Dancing and screaming: “In your head, In your head, Zombie, Zombie, Zombie”.
Even though I already loved the English language and in fact English was one of my two major courses, I hadn’t always understood what the Cranberries lyrics meant or what those songs were about. The “1916” and the rest of the lyrics made it abundantly clear in this song though. Some months before we had discussed the Northern Ireland conflict in English class as part of the curriculum by means of another song: A live version U2’s “Bloody Sunday” from sometime in 1980s in which Bono comments on some tragic current events as far as I remember. But I admit even with that older song the terror and “Troubles” felt far away for a German teenage girl in the early 90s. Until the Cranberries landed a hit with “Zombie” at the same time and I realized that it was still a very real and tragic experience for the people in Northern Ireland and Ireland and in fact other parts of the UK.
I hadn’t actually wanted to write about “Zombie” so much, but about the clearest memory that comes to my mind when I think of The Cranberries: The song “Linger”. And just the word as such, which I think is just a very lovely word. I know, I know I’m reaching word-nerd-territory here quickly. I can’t help it, I love (the English) language and the beauty and poetry of it. I didn’t remember having learned that term “linger” before I had heard that particular song. And looking back now, it’s not a happy song, so I shouldn’t have enjoyed listening to it so much just for the poetical and phonetical beauty of it :-) The other memory of “Linger” is, that we had heard that song quite often in the van during a cool 4 week camping trip “From Coast to Coast” all across the US in 1995. I don’t know who of our group had brought this Cranberries CD “Everybody Else Is Doing it, So Why Can’t We?” but we had it on heavy rotation on the long drives. That and the Eagles “Hell Freezes Over” and the soundtrack to “The Lion King”, if I remember it correctly. But I digress here…
Just like “Zombie” will always take me back to wild dancing in our favourite club, “Linger” takes me back to a sunny camp ground in San Antonio (I think) when I had asked our driver and tour guide Denise about the meaning of that word, because I hadn’t know it before. Weird, the things, we remember, isn’t it? But the whole album as such takes me back to this trip in 1995 with all the wonderful moments we experienced back then.
If anyone would have asked me, if I were or had been a Cranberries fan, I probably would have said: I like them fine, but I’m not a fan as such. Not a fans as I had been of other pop stars / bands around the same time. Singers and bands with maybe more generic, but in that also easier to understand and sing along to lyrics. Singers with a more generic voice and mainstream pop/rock sound. My musical taste back then was a bit bland and generic, I admit it. But still… the Cranberries provided the soundtrack to so many moments of my life back then and I did like their music a lot whenever I heard it somewhere and I even do own a couple of their CDs.
I hadn’t followed their career in the late 90s and when I had noticed that they had broken up at some point I didn’t really care all that much. When they reunited in 2012 I noticed that too and every once in a while when an old song came on the radio, I thought: “You should check out that new/latest album some day.” I never did though and I do feel a bit bad that it took such a tragic event to finally do.
Dolores’ voice was soooooo unique and her range from angry to sweet and lovely and back again was and will forever be impressive. And so will be the fact, that she was the female (!) lead singer in a successful rock band. When she was in her early 20s! I hadn’t consciously noticed that back then, but definitely later on. It was kind of ground breaking among all the all male rock bands or boy bands or single male artists who dominated the charts back then.
It’s a sad, sad day for this 90’s girl.