I was really into Sinead O’Connor when she first hit it big back in 1990. ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ was on constant MTV rotation — that mesmerizing video where O’Connor stared right at you with those big beautiful eyes and sang her heart out until she teared up — and this bald, lanky Irish woman had put out the best album of the year, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.
I remember my Dad dismising her as a flake and once when I was going on about what a talent she was, he said something like “Just wait, in ten years I bet nobody will even know who she is.” And I said, yeah… I’ll take that bet.
Well, the nineties weren’t kind to Sinead O’Connor. She tore up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live, got booed off the stage for singing an unrelated protest song at a Bob Dylan tribute concert, and she had Frank Sinatra threaten to “kick her ass” when she wouldn’t perform after the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’ Her one album release, Universal Mother, was a flop.
It looked like my Dad had hit the nail right on its little bald head.
But wait… cut to 2000, exactly ten years after Dad made his prediction. O’Connor released Faith and Courage, a bona fide comeback album packed with great songs. It wasn’t a hit on the level of I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got but it made a definite splash, both commercially and artistically, and said to the world ‘Sinead O’Connor is still here, and still vital.’
‘Jealous’ is a lovely, florid song written from the perspective of a woman who’s been dumped and suddenly seems all the more attractive to the man who left her. It’s simultaneously a show of strength and a confession of still painful heartbreak, and O’Connor hits the high notes with an aching crystalline waver. It’s among the best songs on an album that doesn’t have a weak moment.
I don’t know if this album settled the wager one way or the other, because O’Connor promptly dropped off the face of the earth after it came out. But it was really nice while it lasted.