Thank You for Hearing Me: The Definitive Sinéad O'Connor Discography

“[Sinéad on the motivations behind creating Theology, and why she recorded the same songs with different production in Dublin and London. Also, how Curtis Mayfield's We People Who Are Darker Than Blue fits into Theology]”

1 version

7:03

Something Beautiful: The Sinéad O'Connor Theology Conversation promo album

Lyrics

(Source: as heard)

Interviewer (Jody Denberg):
Sinéad O'Connor and the song "Something Beautiful" from her new disc, Theology, and this is Something Beautiful: The Sinéad O'Connor Theology Conversation. Sinéad, it's nice to see you, and I just want to congratulate you on creating such a healing piece of work.
Sinéad:
Thanks; thank you.
I:
One of your motivations in recording Theology was to make something beautiful, wasn't it?
S:
Yeah. That was, pretty simply, the whole reason for making it. There really isn't any other reason.
I:
Almost sounds like something a child would say to their mom: "I made something; it's beautiful."
S:
Yeah, exactly, well, that's exactly the spirit in which it's done, yeah.
I:
You're creating something beautiful in the midst of a time of war (S: Mmm.), sort of a counterbalance to what's going on.
S:
Yeah. To me, it's really very much an anti-war record. It's very subtle, but that is what it is. It's a reaction, I suppose, to seeing theologies being misinterpreted and used as weapons, if you like, and not to name any particular religion, but, you know, that war that we see going on right now is happening purely because some people interpreted a particular theology in a particular way. So I suppose it's my response to that. I suppose there's a school of thought that one cannot solve political problems, or spiritual problems, rather, with politics; that the problems that we see in the world are not political, but, in fact, spiritual, and trying to solve them with politics is like throwing water in the hull of a sinking boat, so that at some point we have to go back to the question of spirituality if we want to make the world a good place, you know.
I:
I heard you say that since you were seven years of age, you thought about making this record. How so?
S:
Yeah. I guess because I grew up in a very tiny island, which is called Ireland, which at the time was a theocracy, in both the negative and positive suggestions of the word, a very religious country, also a very musical country, with a tradition of singing. I was one of the people that was affected very positively by Catholicism, actually, and by the religiosity of the country. I'm rare in that, but I also was involved from a very young age in singing a lot of the religious songs, like in choirs, or even just at home. My father was a singer, and my mother also was a singer, not for a living, you know, it's not what they did for a living, but, you know, it was their love. There was music everywhere, all kinds of music in my house, all kinds of anything to do with music, you know, in a vast selection of genres, you know, that my parents were into, from John Lennon to Oklahoma!, you know what I mean? But I got involved at a very young age in the school choirs and that, and that's where I fell in love with the religious songs, like from, you know, the age of six and seven, so it was since then that I wanted to kind of be able to write those songs, yeah.
I:
The version of the song "Something Beautiful" that we just heard a few minutes ago was from the London sessions disc of Theology. Why did you decide to record these songs both in London--those sessions were fully produced instrumentally--but you also did a version in Dublin, in an acoustic session, and on Theology, each session has its own disc?
S:
I guess it was an accident that that happened. Originally, I wanted to make an acoustic record, because from years of doing shows, I had noticed that when I would go, at the end of each show to do 15 or 20 minutes with just acoustic guitar, the audience really loved that part and responded to it, so I was figuring for a long time that my own hard core audience would love an acoustic album, so I'd started, I'd commissioned a guy to work on that and started to work on it, and paid the first thirty grand, you know, and then what happened is that Ron Tom, who produced the London sessions, tracked me down and rang me and said he really wanted to work with me. So I went over to London to make some demos with him, but the only songs I had were these songs; I hadn't written any others. So we demoed them, but as far as I was concerned, it was just to see how we got on working together or to see what it sounded like, but if I was going to work on an album with him, it would have been the next album, you know? Only he begged me, basically, to let him do this album, like literally on his knees, nearly crying--like he said to me his life just would not be worth living if I didn't let him do it. So I decided to keep the two albums, and what I did is I didn't tell the guys in Dublin about the London one, and I never let Ron hear the Dublin one, either, so none of them knew anything about what was going on on either side, you know, so that was fun, although I was waiting for the guys in Ireland to kill me when they found out.
I:
Are they okay with it now?
S:
Yeah, they were, you know, they were a bit freaked out at first, like which I knew they would be, but then they were okay once they saw how vastly different it was.
I:
The next song we're about to hear from Theology is from the Dublin sessions, and the album's primarily comprised of your new, original compositions, but there's a few covers. We're about to listen to a song by the great Curtis Mayfield, "We People Who Are Darker Than Blue." How does this song fit into the Theology project for you?
S:
In a way, it's a kind of a red herring; it does and it doesn't fit. It fits in my own theology, because I would see Curtis as a prophet, really, and I'm very fascinated with the prophets and with the books of the prophets, and with the idea of how these books were written thousands of years ago but really apply to nowadays, you know, but I think that Curtis was similar, had similar blood in him, in that he was writing about things that were going on in his time, but actually they apply, probably more so, now in our time. To me, there are links between this war that's going on and the escalation of violence among teenagers, you know. You can say that people like George Bush or Tony Blair, that they're father figures, they're the father figures of their nations, and they condone the use of violence as a way of sorting things. Of course, that's what the children are going to do, you know? So to me, that's partly why I included that song also, because, you know, it's a call to be more than society says you can be. And so for me also, on a personal level, why I did that song was really to talk to myself about my own sense of unworthiness of making a record like this, or my own sense of feeling useless, or feeling that...I identify also with the racism thing because I feel that the prejudice about famous people is a similar thing, particularly the Sinéad O'Connor thing, you know, that I've been dealing, you know, with a lot of prejudice about who I am or what I am or that can really cause a lot of self-esteem problems, as well; it can just make you feel, "Well, what's the point?" kind of thing, so in a way, that song was an encouragement to myself, actually, you know, not to stand around this town and let what others say come true, 'cause I'm not good for nothing. So it's that kind of thing, as well, you know, a kick up one's own arse.

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