Why Sinéad O'Connor Matters (Music Matters) (Hardcover)

Why Sinéad O'Connor Matters (Music Matters) By Allyson McCabe Cover Image
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A stirring defense of Sinéad O’Connor’s music and activism, and an indictment of the culture that cancelled her.

In 1990, Sinéad O’Connor’s video for “Nothing Compares 2 U” turned her into a superstar. Two years later, an appearance on Saturday Night Live turned her into a scandal. For many people—including, for years, the author—what they knew of O’Connor stopped there. Allyson McCabe believes it’s time to reassess our old judgments about Sinéad O’Connor and to expose the machinery that built her up and knocked her down.

Addressing triumph and struggle, sound and story, Why Sinéad O’Connor Matters argues that its subject has been repeatedly manipulated and misunderstood by a culture that is often hostile to women who speak their minds (in O’Connor’s case, by shaving her head, championing rappers, and tearing up a picture of the pope on live television). McCabe details O’Connor’s childhood abuse, her initial success, and the backlash against her radical politics without shying away from the difficult issues her career raises. She compares O’Connor to Madonna, another superstar who challenged the Catholic Church, and Prince, who wrote her biggest hit and allegedly assaulted her. A journalist herself, McCabe exposes how the media distorts not only how we see O’Connor but how we see ourselves, and she weighs the risks of telling a story that hits close to home.

In an era when popular understanding of mental health has improved and the public eagerly celebrates feminist struggles of the past, it can be easy to forget how O’Connor suffered for being herself. This is the book her admirers and defenders have been waiting for.

About the Author

Allyson McCabe is a writer, reporter, and producer whose work is often broadcast on NPR, and her byline appears in the New York Times, BBC Culture, Wired, and other publications.

Praise For…

Absolutely brilliant, heartbreaking, insightful, and personal.

— Margo Price

Why Sinéad O’Connor Matters reassesses the oft-misunderstood songwriter and activist through a lens that is both historical and personal...Written in clear and provocative language...McCabe’s impassioned defense of O’Connor in the wake of her many controversies is both heartfelt and persuasive...our protagonist emerges from Why Sinéad O’Connor Matters as a conquering hero; having weathered abuse, cruelty, and prejudice, not to mention the usual unreasonable expectations too often placed on female artists, the courageous nonconformist emerges wounded but wiser. Ultimately—and most importantly—she is redeemed.
— Aquarium Drunkard

[A] very personal and thought-provoking account of the media’s role in [O'Connor's] stratospheric rise and ultimate implosion…A touching tribute. O’Connor has been the subject of recent and numerous articles, a documentary, and books (including her own), but McCabe’s take is unique in its critical analysis of the media and its attempts to silence and cancel O’Connor.
— Library Journal

I've been waiting for a book like McCabe's because...grappling with what happened to O'Connor—at her peak no less—carries important lessons that resonate today. The woman behind that sublime voice was a fierce, complicated, tormented, defiant badass. Yet somehow, she remains an enigma—despite publishing a memoir—because of how quickly and completely she was discarded from the music world for refusing to compromise her beliefs. The industry and world have ostensibly changed, but it's essential to remember and honor those who went before us.
— Tertulia
Product Details
ISBN: 9781477325704
ISBN-10: 1477325700
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication Date: May 9th, 2023
Pages: 256
Language: English
Series: Music Matters