Note: Later controversy aside, this song was huge back in the day. And it was written by Prince (note the “2 U” business, a signature way of expressing himself that Prince used to let us know that he was NOT grammar’s bitch), setting up a very interesting smash-up of wildly-different talent. Let’s revisit. And in a tribute to Sinead’s political activism, let’s just say that I get a wee bit harsh with the religious symbolism…
We start off on some wooded country lane, with a long-shot of some priest scurrying to hide questionable material that he might have hidden under the cot in his monastery cell. We get a few brief shots of some nice architectural details, accented by water and birds and the absence of filthy humans mucking things up, then Sinead makes her physical debut.
And what an entrance. We weren’t sure what to make of the severe look, with the tightly-shorn hair, the pale face set off by the all-black outfit, and those eyes, challenging in their emotion, but we were captivated. You couldn’t help but listen to what she had to say, if only to find out why she shaved her head.
She croons for a bit, accented by images fading in and out. We see some statues, the older kind with actual people and not the modern kind where you are left to puzzle about the significance of a giant frying pan painted blue. Then we’re back to Sinead, with her elfish anger and fondness for looking away from the camera.
She sings for a while.
We get a break from the intensity of Sinead’s emotion with a brief shot of a barren forest, probably symbolic of the lack of hit singles that Sinead would have after this moment. There’s also something to do with dead leaves falling to the ground, probably symbolic of people not buying her album after the infamous “Saturday Night Live” appearance where she ripped up the photo of the Pope.
She sings for another while.
A long while.
(Why is she so angry? Is her turtleneck too tight?)
Okay, more imagery, with battered leaves lying on the cold ground. Would this be a shout-out to the untold numbers of children molested by priests who should have been reassigned, or convicted, but were allowed to keep practicing because the Catholic Church has a thing for denial and suppression? Just wondering. We also have a shot with another priest trudging along, probably racing to a confessional booth where he can learn new and interesting things for those lonely Saturday nights.
More statues of folks who actually have genitalia. I know, I know, such things get certain people up in arms, making them want to cut arts funding and pretend that half of the population doesn’t have a penis. But really, if that’s the most abominable thing in the world to you, you must not get out much.
Brief shot of the priest walking down a very wide flight of stone stairs. You know damn well he wanted to do a number from “Auntie Mame”, but had to refrain from doing so since somebody might spy how easily his legs could go over his head.
Back to Sinead, with her intensity. She’s still emoting quite fiercely, to the point of actual tears streaming down her cheeks. Somebody did this girl WAY wrong. (Or maybe there was some Mountain Cedar that blew in with the latest weather change.) Still and all, you don’t get that kind of musical conviction out of the current crop of female rappers whose talent is mostly silicon-based.
Another statue, this one of a woman holding her head and looking dissatisfied. Perhaps this was a harbinger of Sinead’s eventual decision to become a priest herself. Okay, not a priest, but an official religious person of some kind that had some type of clerical authority. Of course, this happened in Scotland or some such, so who knows what it really meant.
And another shot of the priest, still trying to hide things, like reality and personal responsibility.
To close things out, we have a shot of Sinead looking off to one side, all angelic with shining eyes. We hold this pose for a very long time, letting us remember what it was like before she opened her mouth and actually spoke her mind. Thou shalt not buck the system, or the hypocrites will smite you, pointing fingers whilst locking their own closet doors.
But I’m not bitter…
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