El Pais
June 6, 2000

"I Am Not A Rebel, I Am A Revolutionary"
by Fietta Jarque

Translated by Ana

    Mystic and untamed, Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor, at the age of 33, shows little evidence of having changed; although she'll try to say the opposite.  The album with which she resumes  her musical career after six years maintains that idea of double meaning in its title:  "Faith and Courage", which will be released on the 16th of this month.

    Religion and politics, an explosive mix.  To talk about Sinéad O'Connor is to hear the ticking of a bomb.  Her silence of the record scene, with the exception of one hit album and a sporadic series of collaborations, has been accompanied by major public relations issues: tearing up a picture of the Pope on live television; refusing a Grammy award on account of political reasons;  sympathizing with the IRA; refusing to perform a concert after the American National Anthem was played; being booed away at Madison Square Garden; abandoning the pop music scene to study opera; attempting suicide by taking barbiturates after losing custody of her daughter and then becoming an ordained priest by a dissident sect of the Catholic Church for which she has presided over 4 masses- two of them given in Latin, have all been reactions which have kept her in the spotlight without the help of new projects.

The Spirit And The Couple

    She returns with a new album and a new contract.  "About 2 1/2 years ago, I had a practically completed album which was longer than this one; but I had problems with my old record label and I had been looking for a new one ever since," she says via a telephone interview.  "I've had to think it through very thoroughly because a recording contract is almost like a marriage."  What she has accomplished, so far, is working with a series of producers the likes of Dave Stewart, Brian Eno and Wyclef Jean on this album.  "They are very talented people who have always been on the cutting edge,"  she comments.

    According to her, she has not returned to the recording studio to win back her audience and she says she won't be touring because she has to care for her four-year-old daughter.  "More than anything, this is a self-contained album in which the songs reflect what my soul is singing to me.  It is my soul that wants me to listen to it."

    Most of the songs have been written by Sinéad O'Connor and in them, two themes are predominant: the spiritual world and the conflicting relationships between men and women.  It's difficult for a strong woman to establish a relationship with a man who knows that his role will never be dominant one,"  she affirms.  "It's hard to find a man who is stronger than you and I think that that's what women like me are seeking; someone who is affectionate, lovable and gentle but whom at the same time, is stronger than she."

    "In all aspects, I feel that life for men today is harder than women realize.  At least we are better at expressing resentment and doubt and we are not as afraid of showing our vulnerabilities; while men aren't prepared to show their fears and weaknesses."

    A large part of the themes is wrapped up in an atmosphere of melancholy; but there is also a fiery and rebellious theme here; the one about the young woman who abandons her studies and the Dublin of her childhood and leaves for London to be a rock star.  "I am not a depressed person and it's been a while since I've wanted to write a pop song.  It forces hidden parts of me to come out.  But I don't consider myself a rebel as much as a revolutionary," she says.  "I don't like the word rebel because it's been used too much in reference to my actions, as criticism, and they say it because I am a woman and I don't behave the way women supposedly should behave.  It's something quite sinister. They don't call people like Bob Geldolf and other artists rebels.  They don't call Puff Daddy rebellious,"  she adds, trying not to lose her calm.

From The Future

    "The word rebellious simply suggests to me someone who rebels solely for the thrill of it.  A revolutionary is someone who is almost from the future who brings information that hasn't been heard or seen before and tries to change things from within," she says in a much calmer tone.    Sinead O'Connor's spiritual vacillation has been widely publicized by the press.  She doesn't want to discuss that topic or the religious vows she's taken.  However, she is willing to discuss her spiritual evolution.  "I suffered alot due to the criticisms aimed at me, especially because I was so young.  When you're twenty-something years
old you're very insecure.  Now I don't feel so badly about it, it's just part of life."

    The album concludes with a rare version of "Kyrie Eleison" the Catholic incantation.  "I am interested in music as magic.  I believe that that which is divine, sometimes, can make its way into the spoken word.  This is a very powerful song.  It's like an incantation designed to call upon the Holy Spirit.  It's a powerful theme when it touches the soul; it opens up something inside there, something called compassion," she contends.

    Someone who concludes a pop music album with a theme such as this makes it clear that for the Irish songstress, pop isn't necessarily a frivolous sort of music.  "I believe that music is the only way in which the soul can express itself.  Pop music can be one of the mediums in which people can find inspiration; more so than in jobs, politics or organized religion.  It's the expression of the soul, and not only its humanity."