‘Linger’ was my anthem and Dolores O’Riordan was my muse

(CNS photo/Arben Celi, Reuters).

By Cameron Dezen Hammon, America

Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer of the Irish band The Cranberries, was born in County Limerick to a Catholic mother who named her for Our Lady of the Seven Dolours (or Sorrows), in 1971. She was born with a disposition suited to her namesake, a fact revealed in her bouts with depression and rage, poetry and punk rock. She was born four years and five days before I was, but we shared a disposition.

When I first heard Dolores’s voice, the delicate, brogue-inflected mezzo issuing from the radio of a street vendor or taxicab, I was struggling with my own sorrows. I was 18 and Dolores was just 23. She was a singer in a band, on the radio. I was a bulimic, a wannabe poet who had yet to put my two discernible skills—singing and writing—together to any effect. But watching Dolores do it—watching her front the band and write the songs (thesong), even if from afar—made me believe that I could do it also.

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Linger was unlike anything else on the radio in 1993—and was nothing like the muscular “Zombie” that would closely follow it. No, Linger had an affect of angels, and so did Dolores’s look then—the much-copied pixie haircut and ’40s movie star eyebrows, the dark lipstick. She was Dickensian, if Dickens had written a Gaelic warrior-waif, a hero with a voice that could thrill and comfort. She seemed like a person in the temporal world but somehow not of it.

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