An Evening with Allyson McCabe, in Conversation with Sadie Dupuis

Thursday, June 22nd, at 6:30 PM

Please join us on June 22nd at 6:30 for a wonderful evening of conversation with Allyson McCabe and Sadie Dupuis as they discuss McCabe's new book, Why Sinéad O'Connor Matters. 


Irish singer-songwriter Sinéad O'Connor burst onto the pop scene in 1987 with her album The Lion and the Cobra, and followed it with the Grammy-winning I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got (1990), which featured a cover of Prince's song "Nothing Compares 2 U." In 1992, she infamously tore a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live to protest the sexual abuse committed by priests and covered up by church authorities. O'Connor was immediately castigated for her politics, which were already radical, and her career has suffered ever since. For many people-including, for many years, the author-what they know of O'Connor stops there. Allyson McCabe argues that both that moment and O'Connor's long career deserve re-examination. For McCabe, hindsight suggests that O'Connor "was right." Right about the church, right about how the music industry uses women, and "most of all, she was right to seek and speak her own truth" no matter the price she's paid for it. O'Connor continues to be controversial, with public breakdowns and problematic statements (to say nothing of changing her name twice). She also has released 10 albums in addition to one-off collaborations and singles. She is a hero (as this book makes clear) to Fiona Apple and other influential women in music. McCabe plans to address both triumphs and struggles, to offer "a fresh look at Sinéad O'Connor's life through the lenses of music criticism, cultural analysis, and personal reflection.

The book works through O'Connor's life and career in chronological order, from her abused childhood to initial success, stardom, and the ensuing fallout. McCabe compares O'Connor with Madonna, digs into how she aspires to be a protest singer rather than a pop star, and McCabe explores O'Connor's attempts to de-stigmatize mental illness.

Why Sinéad O’Connor Matters is a thought-provoking look at one of the most influential artists and activists of our time that ultimately asks, "Why did we abandon her?" In her time of need, when she needed support, when she stood by her values--her audience trusted the industry more than the artist. I hope this book is read by those who don’t know Sinéad’s story, and those that do will gain insight into the pain and punk ethos she still stands for. Allyson McCabe makes us all want to ask Sinéad for forgiveness and, one hopes, ask ourselves how we can do things differently.

~Sharon Van Etten


Allyson McCabe is a journalist whose work is heard on NPR’s newsmagazines, public radio stations and programs, and podcasts. Also appearing in publications such as the New York Times, New York Magazine/Vulture, BBC Culture, Wired, and Bandcamp, McCabe is also the author of Why Sinéad O'Connor Matters, UT Press, 2023.

Sadie Dupuis

Sadie Dupuis is the guitarist, songwriter & singer of rock band Speedy Ortiz, as well as the producer & multi-instrumentalist behind pop project Sad13. Sadie heads the record label Wax Nine, edits its poetry journal, and is a regular contributor to Spin, Tape Op, Talkhouse, and more. She holds an MFA in poetry from UMass Amherst, where she also taught writing. Mouthguard, her first book, was published in 2018 (Gramma); Cry Perfume, a second poetry collection, was released in 2022 (Black Ocean). She is an organizer with the Union of Musicians & Allied Workers and its local UMAW Philly.


Event date: 
Thursday, June 22, 2023 - 6:30pm
Event address: 
Head House Books
619 South 2nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Cry Perfume By Sadie Dupuis Cover Image
ISBN: 9781939568625
Availability: Backordered
Published: Black Ocean - October 4th, 2022

Why Sinéad O'Connor Matters (Music Matters) By Allyson McCabe Cover Image
ISBN: 9781477325704
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-3 Days
Published: University of Texas Press - May 9th, 2023