This week on the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast, listen for a look back at the life and music of late Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor as Shirley Manson of Garbage joins host Brian Hiatt to talk about her artistry and influence.
O'Connor's passing last week at the age of 56, which came soon after the death of her 17-year-old son Shane, "really has shaken me," says Manson. But the Garbage singer admits, "I did not find it unexpected. In fact quite the opposite. I have been waiting for this for some time now, to be honest. I understood what crisis she was in, and I was very concerned."
"My biggest fear has come true," Shirley continues, "but I can't say I'm surprised. I know that she struggled with a bi-polar disorder, and I think the ultimate calamity in her life was of course the death, the suicide of her son. I think that it signed her own death warrant right there. It's a dark story -- there's no way of looking at it in a particularly positive light... but I'm sure as time passes we'll feel differently and process this differently."
Shirley's first acquaintance with Sinéad came from reading the music papers, tracking her career with some obsession over the years, and after seeing her perform "Mandinka" on Top of the Pops in the late 80s, her fandom was cemented. "She's been an artist that's stuck with me for decades and has never let me down. I've never felt disappointed by her... I've never felt embarrassed. I've always felt so aligned with her thinking." says Manson.
"First and foremost," Shirley adds, she says she fell in love with her "spectacular" voice. "She truly is a great -- she's one of the greats, a great vocalist... To my mind she's up there with Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. She's just got something that is impossible to emulate. Nobody can touch her range or her expression... She could just flip from a falsetto with the sound of an angel, and then straight into this super fierce, hardcore, almost Punk rock, and sound legitimate in any of these moods."
Also in this episode, longtime Rolling Stone writer David Wild looks back at his 1991 cover-story interview with O'Connor.
Listen to the full SInéad O'Connor tribute episode of Rolling Stone Music Now ' above -- now playing on Audacy -- and follow along for more conversations with the writers and editors of Rolling Stone, bringing listeners inside the biggest stories in music.