Interview by Bob Guccione Jr. Translated from Dutch from the
Belgian magazine Humo, September 1991
A few days before the award ceremony of the Grammies last
February, in the middle of the bombing of Bagdad, Sinéad O'Connor
dropped a few bombs by herself: she boycotted the Grammies out of
protest against the Gulf War and she would quit making music. The
ridiculous idea that someone would care about that, is exactly what
these statements made so important. The conviction of Sinéad that this
was an important reaction to the war and the apathy of the music
industry, MADE her important. They were reported all over the world -
Sinéad is not just important for the sales of her
records; the raw, spontaneous honesty of her rebellion makes her
important. She's a mouthpiece because she speaks.
Last year in
August, Sinéad caused a huge incident by refusing the American anthem to
play before her concert would start. The massive press jumped up ready
to lynch her. In all that anger, she argued that they hadn't understood
her well and she gave a careful stated press release to try explaining
her points of view. In reality not a single statement had made a
difference with the war-mongering crowd. Finally America could give
itself amnesty for Vietnam and no bald Irish woman of 23 could come in
Sinéad didn't show remorse and retreated in London,
where she lives and where she attended acting school. She says she will
play Jeanne D'Arc in an upcoming movie. In July 1991 she released My
Special Child, a single with 4 songs, and she donated the proceeds to
the Red Cross help program for the Kurds.
We talked with her in
the office of her manager in West London, in a terribly warm and stuffy
meeting room, of which the windows had to stay closed because otherwise
too much noise from traffic would come in. She expected the interview to
last exactly 3 cigarettes and which she neatly had lined up, like
pencils, on the table. Afterwards it turned out to last 9 cigarettes.
we were done, I played a little with her 4-year-old son Jake, while she
was going make a few phone calls to people. He was kicking me
constantly - he enjoyed that. So I grabbed his ankles and held him over
my shoulders upside down -I enjoyed that. 'Yuck, you smell dirty!', he
yelled. 'You have quite some guts, for someone hanging upside down in
the air', I told him. And then I realized that it's an excellent
description of Sinéad.
Why did you want to make the song My
Sinéad O'Connor: I wrote the song from my own
experience. I wanted to release it and use the profit to make people
aware about child abuse. Then the situation came with those Kurds and
that seemed really urgent, so I thought I had to do that first. The song
itself is about my experiences, when I had an abortion last year, how I
felt and how I handled it.
Why did you want an abortion?
Actually I didn't want an abortion. I had become happily pregnant and
was crazy about the father of the baby. But it didn't go well between
us. We argued a lot. I was on tour and was constantly nauseous. I didn't
know what to do and he wasn't really interested in the baby. So I had
to decide myself if I would keep the baby or not, because I understood
that the father wouldn't be present a lot. I decided it would be better
to not have the child, that I rather have a child later when there's a
father who would feel committed. I had the feeling I couldn't handle it
Was that hard for you?
Yes, because I was very happy with my pregnancy. Before that I had
received a miscarriage three times and I was really worried if it would
go right this time. Well, it looked like it was going to be all right.
That's why I was so desperate.
It wasn't a decision I had made light-heartedly - no one does. Only
after a year I was over it, but it was the right decision. I'm convinced
that if a child is supposed to be born, it needs to be born; it doesn't
matter if you had a miscarriage or an abortion. I'm pro-choice. I don't
want to demonstrate for or against abortion, but I would like to take
thorough action for the right of women to decide themselves what's
happening with and inside their bodies. No one has the right to tell
another what he has to think or believe. Especially not the Catholic
Church, if you look at the number of murders and plundering it has
Has the fact that you were raised Catholic
influenced you a lot?
SINÉAD: That's never been very
important in my life. I believed in God and the Holy Virgin Maria and
the Immaculate Conception and I love all those things. So I kept from
the Catholic faith what I liked, the image of Maria and all those kind
of stories. But I didn't feel hyped by it, I didn't take it that
serious. What I liked and what appealed to me, I picked up.
you believe in Heaven and Hell?
SINÉAD: No, I don't believe
in a heaven or hell. I really don't believe one should burn. I don't
believe it's good to teach children that God is someone who punishes
them when they don't behave well, that God isn't someone who understands
everything. That's child abuse.
Do you believe in Heaven?
I believe in different stages of a spiritual consciousness and Christ
is someone who has reached the highest level. The highest level of
spiritual consciousness is closest to heaven. But I don't believe in
heaven and hell as they are portrayed.
When you grew up there
was a lot of pain around you. Did you believe God had abandoned you?
No, I believed very strongly in God. I didn't believe I was being
punished or that God had abandoned me. I kept believing and prayed a lot
and took a lot of comfort from God's mother.
Were you lonely
as a child?
SINÉAD: Yes, I believe so, but I don't think I
was aware of that. I found it very difficult to talk with people. I was
sitting like this (she bents forward) in the classroom; that's
why I have such a bad posture. I talked with no one and didn't hang out
with anyone. I didn't know how to. Even a year ago I couldn't watch
anyone in the eyes when I talked with him or her.
Why were you
so shy? And how did you overcome it?
SINÉAD: I forced myself
to get over it, but I haven't completely yet. But I forced myself
because I didn't function well and I couldn't continue like that. Why I
have become like that is because of the abuses and the constant lack of
help and understanding. No one from outside my home family helped me.
old were you then, about 8 years?
SINÉAD: Even smaller. When
a child is abused, there are several ways to react to that. I retreated
myself. I couldn't communicate with anyone, I couldn't learn. I could
read and write but it didn't interest me. I couldn't get myself out of
Were you physically scared?
SINÉAD: Yes, I was
always scared to death, constantly. I'm one of those millions of people
who grew up in such circumstances, who were always scared to death.
did you think about? Did you have fantasies, which you later verbalized
SINÉAD: Yes, I lived in an imaginary world.
That's how I survived.
My parents were divorced but no one got
beaten, thank god. The family had very close ties. But at the age of
15, it was actually me who had to run it all.
abuse as well.
Yes, but a very mild form
When a child cannot be himself, if a child cannot be a child, then
that's child abuse.
Don't you think that happens in the real
SINÉAD: It shouldn't happen.
a perfect world it wouldn't happen.
The world can become perfect. All problems in the world are according
to me caused by child abuse. That is a lack of understanding for
children, for whom they are and for the fact that they should be
themselves, to form their own opinions and taking their own decisions.
From the moment a child is born, especially in the USA, but I think
everywhere but just that it is the most obvious in the USA, it gets
conditioned. Everything that the child sees on TV, or learns at school,
or hears on the radio, or reads in magazines or whatever it comes in
contact with, is based on the fact that the child needs to be formed
into a specific kind of person, someone who can't think for himself,
someone who don't have an own opinion, someone who doesn't have an own
mind. From the moment a child goes to school it's done with, he can't be
himself anymore. You are not allowed to ask questions, you are not
allowed to have an own opinion. You just learn what's in the history
books, all lies, and you have to believe that.
Do you think
the media are programming the people?
SINÉAD: I think they
very cleverly use it to condition the people. The USA is by far the most
obvious example, but it's the same all over the world. I think
television all together should be abolished. It's totally destructive.
There's nothing positive of it, absolutely nothing.
SINÉAD: Should be abolished.
Why do you
SINÉAD: Because TV has killed free thinking. And
not just that, also art, poetry, theatre, all those things. TV
conditions people; they sit in front of them all day and they believe
everything that comes on. And just from a scientific point alone, it's
when an image changes constantly - and MTV is the worst example of that -
the brain doesn't learn to concentrate because you're getting so used
to it seeing things for a second, that what you see is not really
getting through. It's bad for people who want to study or learn
The people have lost their spirituality. We don't have contact anymore
with who we are and what the meaning of life is and we don't have
contact anymore with God. The reason is that we have started invading
countries and exterminated whole races and cultures, just to gain in a
Because we have lost our spirituality, we feel empty. There's an
enormous hole inside of us, I don't think anyone can say that he doesn't
feel emptiness in his life, and that they try to fill it
materialistically, because that's the only thing they see on TV or in
the paper. They see that if you make it materialistically far, you're
happy, so in order to fill that void, they try to reach that. They reach
for drugs, alcohol, sex, cigarettes, all just to fill that void. They
never see anything that tells them to fill that void another way. That
when you are at peace with yourself, you also attract peaceful things.
You learn from an early age that you have to work for a living. You have
to do shit work, even though you hate it so much, just so you earn
enough money to buy food and therefore you never discover who you are
and what you are able of.
The biggest problem is child abuse.
That's an unbelievable
SINÉAD: If you look at the whole history,
you'll see that all serial killers are abused or misused as a kid. All
of them, without one exception. All alcoholics are abused as a child.
All drug addicts. All rapists. All sex offenders are abused as a child.
Hitler was an abused child; Saddam Hussein as well.
you get over it? You're enormously strong and brave.
Courage meanSinÃ©ad: the fear to continue. I'm still not completely over
it. I'm still working on it, but I got over it. It was an endless cycle
- it's a cycle of abuse. A child gets abused, it never expressed itself
because it doesn't get encouraged to express himself. It gets
encouraged to shut up. I realized it just went on. I also realized that I
was quite much messed up and that I had to work hard on myself and that
I had to seek help.
Did you have a therapist?
No, I believe the most in the so-called 12-step groups, may that be
Alcoholics Anonymous or Anonymous Addicts. There's a group called Adult
Children of Alcoholic/ Dysfunctional Families, and I went to that.
SINÉAD: Yes, absolutely. It helps you to learn
that it's not your fault that you're so confused and that everything
else isn't your fault either. I'm always thinking of those people who
are in college, who are the same age as I or younger, and I imagine
there are many who have experienced abuse of whatever kind. And I know
there will be a stage that you think you're nothing more than a piece of
shit - that's the result; that you think you're worthless, a piece of
shit. Every time you look into the mirror, you see an ugly ape.
you also feel like that?
SINÉAD: Yes, I do.
you're incredibly beautiful
SINÉAD: I don't see that myself.
why not? I'm surely not the first man who's saying that.
It doesn't matter what someone says. I could be standing on stage 7
nights a week and 5000 people can cheer me and tell me how wonderful I
am, but for me that doesn't make any difference, because I don't love
myself. I do now, but until that time I didn't love myself. It doesn't
matter who tells you that you're wonderful, if you don't think that
yourself and if your father and mother didn't think so. You will never
think that of yourself unless you work on yourself and learning that
you're worth while.
What do you advice people who have been
SINÉAD: The first thing I would tell those people is
that I have felt exactly like them as they are feeling now. In the first
place you have to admit to yourself that it has affected you and that
it is your full right to say that you have been abused and that it is
unfair and bad. Many times I had the feeling, when I was talking about
the abuse, that I was exaggerating tremendously, but that's of course
nonsense. You think you don't have the right to such feelings, because
they have told you that your whole life. So therefore you try to build
another personality, so that everyone will love you.
I would tell them: go to the 12-step groups or read the books by John
Bradshaw and Alice Miller. They defend the child-adult
syndrome, which means literally thiSinÃ©ad: when a child experiences
something very shocking or traumatic, it doesn't allow itself to
experience it consciously, it secludes itself from it. The brain turns
itself off because it's too shocking, so those kids only experience it
in their subconscious. They don't feel. The child can be afraid of it,
but it doesn't understand what it feels. And those feelings are piling
up, more and more, the older you get. You have been standing still
literally in your development from that point on. You're 3 years old,
but you walk around in a body of 55. The world is lead by adult
It's literally so that you live here (pointing at her chest) and
that you're so small (points out with her hands approximately 60 cm)
and you are inside an adult body. When I was 21, I had temper fits, I
behaved like a 3-year-old child. I had no idea of what I was doing. I
looked at myself then and said: 'What in god's name are you doing?',
even at the moment when I had such outburst. Screaming and being
confused and not being able to leave your bed, crying the entire day,
just being so damned angry and being an ass to people. Then I couldn't
control myself. You are being controlled by the child inside of you.
That is pulling all the ropes. And you have to make contact with it, to
help it develop. It's scared to death.
What were your
SINÉAD: I've experienced abuse of
every kind you can image. My mother was very unhappy and used a lot of
violence. She couldn't handle life, of course because of her own
experiences of her childhood. I've been beaten with all things with
which you can beat a child. I didn't get food, I was locked up for days
in my room, without food and without clothes. I had to sleep in the
garden at night. An entire summer I slept in my home's garden.
old were you then?
SINÉAD: Then I was about 12. But before
that I already had to sleep in the garden with my brothers and my little
sister and didn't get food. I was also abused psychologically, because I
was always told that I wasn't all right, that I was a piece of shit,
that it was my fault that my parents had separated. That I was filthy,
that I was dirty, that I was crazy. I was mostly a piece of shit because
I was a girl and because I never did anything right.
SINÉAD: No, my brother was the oldest. I was
beaten every day and so were the others. Very, very badly. My whole life
I was always terrified. Just the sound of my mother's footsteps on the
stairs was enough to let us tremble of fear. We were neglected, we were
beaten and we were psychologically and emotionally abused.
did it stop?
SINÉAD: I was 13 when I left my mother. I do
want to say that I have discussed this with my family and we have
overcome it. And I love my father and mother very much. I'm not saying
now: 'Assholes' or 'poor me' or something like that and I think it's
important to make that clear for my family. But also to other people -
that such a thing is possible.
I was always encouraged to steal and one of the ways to not be beaten
was coming home with money or something, so my sister and I committed
theft. We never went to bed before 2 am, we never made our homework.
That's why I don't have any diplomas. We were always sick; we were
always completely confused. So by the time I left, I didn't know who the
hell I was or what I did. I always had problems with the police because
of the stealing. So when I started to live with my dad, I suddenly had
all that freedom and I couldn't handle that. So I was skipping school
and started to steal again. Then I was sent to one of those institutions
for girls with behavioural problems. You were re-educated there. But I
was never re-educated and neither were the other girls. They were nice
people, but no one ever took the time to talk with me and to prepare me
for society. I was mainly being punished because of who I am and I was
rejected for who I am. Because my parents had made me so and because
society had made my parents so.
It's not enough that you take a child away from its parents. The parents
themselves also need help. It's not enough to take the children away or
to lock them away. The laws need to be changed, so that children can
really be helped. Many times the police visited our house because the
neighbours heard us scream and then the police came in and they asked:
'Is everything all right?' and then we were shitting our pants, because
we couldn't say that everything was not okay, because what could they
do? They would return and then we would be beaten into a pulp if we had
told them that everything wasn't all right, so we said: 'Yes, everything
is fine'. And then they left.
The police cannot do anything. There should be more help from the
government for women with children. Women lose themselves when they get
children. Women shouldn't get to hear that they need to stay home 24
hours a day, 7 days a week, because that's just not good. A woman should
be able to be herself and lead her own life. So the governments can
help with that.
When I grew up, I was always told how ugly I was, that I should be
ashamed for my body and if you liked your body, you were a tramp, a
piece of shit. It was never told to me that sex was something natural
between two people who love and understood each other. The media taught
me that sex was something you could have with anyone and that it was
completely acceptable. That was also made clear by Rock and Roll.
that bother you when you heard that in Rock and Roll?
It seemed as if sex was the only situation in which people could feel
love. Only there, they can be intimate, so therefore they do it with
everyone around them. But that doesn't work. That's just not the
solution. We see that, so we try it, but if we see something else, we
may try that.
Did the Church confuse you about sex?
In my opinion the Church should just shut their mouth about sex for the
following reasons. At first they never have sex themselves, or at
least, they're not supposed to have sex. The second reason is, that they
do have sex. During the referendum on abortion, priests in Ireland were
regularly fucking young girls and making them pregnant. I know many
examples of that. I know a woman who has a relationship for 20 years
with a priest. He always stayed priest, also after the referendum on
abortion and the referendum on divorce, and so on. What would he have
done if she got pregnant? I know another case of a priest who
impregnated a young girl, sent her to London for an abortion, picked her
up from the boat and was looking at his watch so he wouldn't be too
late for the mass at home. And this was during the referendum on
abortion. They should keep their goddamn mouths shut, because they're
all screwing around. They may start a lawsuit against me, but it's the
damn truth. They should just shut their mouths.
What do you
think of the way sex is being talked about in rap?
That's of course sexism, but if you start on black music, you also have
to mention white music. There are examples everywhere of disgusting
videos of abused women. What do you think of that 'Cherrie Pie' record
with that video where that girl is being hosed down with a garden hose?
What do they want to say with that? And what do you think of 'Love in an
Elevator'? What is that about? Do people have to understand from it
that you can just have sex with a girl that you accidentally meet in an
It's all about fantasy, black or white. Rock and
Roll tries to be an entertaining fantasy.
SINÉAD: I don't
believe Rock and Roll is about entertainment.
Neither do I,
but it is entertainment.
SINÉAD: It has become entirely
It's been always that way, right?
No, that's not true. Look at the 1960s. There was entertainment and
there were other people, who had to say something, and everyone's record
was being played. Then people started to realize that those people were
getting too much power and then the records by people who had to say
something, weren't played anymore. The people who provided
entertainment, were shoved forward, but those are people who have
nothing to say, about anything, but they write very nice tunes, that
everyone likes. But the others are pushed aside. Our records are not
being played anymore, we don't win Grammies. We don't win awards because
we are good atâ€¦
Your records are being played.
No, that's not true. 'Nothing Compared 2 U' was played. But before that
they had never played a record by me and from now one they most
probably wouldn't play a record by me.
I think so
I don't think so. It has nothing to do with the audience. Because the
audience only knows what it gets to hear and if there's something they
don't hear, they can of course not have an opinion about it.
this more like 'what came first, the chicken or the egg'? What's being
played on the radio and what's shown on MTV is what the audience wants.
It wants what it's used to.
Do you think English and American
society is apathetic and complacent?
SINÉAD: We are made
that way. It's been done so we don't want anything anymore, we're
becoming a race that never asks questions anymore. They don't have a
clue of the evil that's around, of what's been manipulated and
regulated. They don't know that what they see, has to form them into a
kind of person that don't asks questions, one that will fight for
America and then thinks that it's damn good.
opinion on the Gulf War
SINÉAD: I found it despicable,
because so many lies were being told. But about that war, the truth will
surface one day.
Do you really think America gives a damn what is happening to the people
in Kurdistan? What about then with Panama?
Let's stay a while
with Kuwait. Actually the US has encouraged Iraq to invade Kuwait, that
we know for a fact. But what I find disgusting is that we didn't
celebrate that we had liberated a people, no, we had celebrated that we
had beaten someone.
SINÉAD: We are made that way. We don't
even mind when our sons die for those reasons. We think it's a good
deal. We don't doubt it. We don't say: 'Why is my son in Kuwait?' We
say: 'My son is in Kuwait, isn't that great?' That's child abuse. The
fact that they sell stickers of the Gulf War to young kids, to put in
their albums, is disgusting. Very disgusting. If all money that's being
spent on weapons, would be spent on something constructive, if we would
invest that in the earth, then there's no reason why not everyone, to
the last person on this planet, would have enough to eat. Every day
40,000 children die because of hunger. Of hunger. Imagine, that your
child would die of hunger.. That's happening to 40,000 women now. And
it's really not necessary.
When you refused to allow the
American anthem before your concert, very few people have defended your
point of view.
SINÉAD: Nobody stood up for me with that
Grammy incident, and I'll remember that. No one. Not a single asshole
stood up for me, they are all shitty cowards. And I'm talking about the
I thought it was interesting that people like
DJs, who usually are left-liberal, and are playing songs like 'Ohio' and
'Give Peace a Chance' on the anniversary of the Kent State Murders,
were attacking you.
SINÉAD: That's just 'in'. South-Africa is
'in'. Neil Young is 'in'. That's safe.
Why do you think that
people wanted to throw you out of the country?
starters because I'm a girl. If I was a man, they would have never been
so insulted. A woman with a shaved head, wearing Doc Martens shoes, who
doesn't do what is expected from women, who hasn't finished her school,
and didn't become what they wanted her to become, and then has the guts
to complain about the American anthem. They'll tell everyone that I'm
evil all the way.
When you look back to that incident, would
you handle it differently?
SINÉAD: No, absolutely not. I'm
proud of it. Until the day I die I'll be proud of that and that Grammy
stuff. Something like, put on your seatbelts, because I'm not done yet.
rarely meet a person like that nowadays, SinÃ©ad, someone who speaks
out so clearly.
SINÉAD: We don't have any spirituality
anymore, that's it. We don't have the slightest idea why we are here. We
have not a clue of - Jesus came to Earth to show that the truth is
important enough to die for. Jesus chose to be crucified, a horrible
death. He shit his pants. No one should tell me he wasn't scared. He
sweated blood. But he rather did that, then saying that what he was
telling wasn't true. And I believe that. I kept that from religion, that
Jesus came here to show me that the truth is important enough to die
What will happen when your next album comes out and your
record company saySinÃ©ad: SinÃ©ad, you have to apologize for that stuff
with the anthem, because otherwise no one will play it.
I couldn't care less, if they will play my records on the radio or not,
because what I do, I do for myself and my record company doesn't
understand that. They would throw in their own windows, so you wouldn't
think they will say something like that? They are not that stupid by the
way. They surely know I'm not that unique. I just express what millions
of people feel. I can bring those ideas forward. I do that for all
abused children, for all women and for all people who are completely
Is society really afraid for woman?
Yes, and therefore they kept women under the thumb. The women who are
being admired, are women with blond hair and fat lips, wearing red
lipstick and short skirts, because that's an accepted image of a woman.
Because it's safe. It's not threatening, intimidating. I'm threatening
and intimidating because I don't conform to such things and I just say
things what I think.
Madonna is probably the biggest example for women in the USA. That's a
woman where people look up to, who they see as someone who puts an
effort into the rights of women. A woman who has insulted me, who has
said that I looked as if I was hit by a lawnmower and that I was just as
sexy as a rolling-shutter. So that's the woman to which America is
looking up to, who supports the rights of women, someone who puts
another woman down because she's not sexy.
What's the solution
for women? I mean, I assume you're not taking one of those
SINÉAD: No, I'm not a feminist or
whatever. I'm just a humanist. I believe in people and I believe in God.
And so I live my life. That's all. I have an idea why I'm here on Earth
and what will happen next.
What drives you? What motivates
SINÉAD: My belief in God.
Do you have the
feeling that God manifests itself in Jake?
SINÉAD: Yes, I
have that feeling.
When I met you for the first time, you
seemed very shy. Today you certainly don't come across as shy. Do you
have the feeling, that you can change the setbacks in life, into energy?
I don't hold myself back by setbacks. And I know what's true; I've seen
examples of the truth and because of the fact that God exists. You can
find examples everywhere. I know the truth is important enough to fight
and die for. It's worth it all. What Keith Richards said about his
problems with the authorities and drugs, that's the truth: 'I don't live
by your petty little rules.' That's not necessary. And if there's
something that I want to show people, it is that they don't have to
Do you find yourself ethical?
I'm extremely ethical.
Do you find yourself a good person?
Yes, I try to be a good person. I'm not a bad person. I do my best to
be as good as possible. Or rather, I do my best to live according to
I think organized religion is like a crutch. It regulates everything.
They tell you what to think, what to believe and who you have to be. I
don't believe in one Catholic Church. I believe in every church. I
believe in Buddhism. I believe in Hinduism. I believe in every religion.
I believe you can get something out of every religion. There's however
only one God. It's just different interpretations and many different
things you have to learn. You can't exclude any religion.
I used to lie scared to death under my bed, because I believed I was
going to hell and burn there. It's outrageous to tell a child that God
sees everything and knows what you think and that you will burn in hell.
That's child abuse. It's bad to teach children that God isn't present
in them. That God is larger than them. That God is outside of them.
That's a lie. That's why children are so empty.
are, according to you, occupied with something else than their own
SINÉAD: I think the Hip hop movement cares about a
number of things. It also has some negative aspects thoughâ€¦
With Attitude couldn't care less
SINÉAD: N.W.A. are
important because they come out for the truth. They speak about how life
is for certain people. If you don't like what N.W.A. is saying, then
you have to find out why they are saying that. How come that adult men
have that attitude towards women? Child abuse.
What do you
think of Public Enemy?
SINÉAD: In my opinion Public Enemy has
done a lot of good. That professor Griff is completely crazy of course.
He's completely mad. But other than that I think they've done a lot of
good. In my opinion the Hip hop and reggae has done a lot of good. More
than I've ever experienced.
I find that very interesting that
you say that, because the rappers are constantly getting their asses
kicked for being sexist.
SINÉAD: So why not Heavy Metal then?
they are predominately white, I think
SINÉAD: Exactly. White
men are allowed to be sexy, but black men aren't. As soon as us white
women felt attractive towards black men, the problems started. As soon
as we started to think: 'Oh, what a nice people', the problems started.
They don't want that we get children from black men. They don't want us
to understand the black man and the black race.
difficult to not get stuck in your own problems? How do you do that?
I'm constantly asking myself questions. And I have my spiritual
convictions. I believe it helps, when you don't think yourself as being
so great. Because God knows when I'm a dammed fool.
How do you
handle your fame?
SINÉAD: You get used to that. I didn't
like it at all and there are sides to it I still don't like, but it's my
Do you think the fact that you're
famous, isolates you?
SINÉAD: Do you mean that because of
that I don't know how it is for other people?
I mean, that
you're not being treated as ordinary people.
SINÉAD: But I am
an ordinary person and I'm being treated the same way. I experience a
lot of prejudice because of my appearance, by who I am, what I am and
what I stand for. Just like everyone else.
people are afraid of you. You intimidate them.
don't do that on purpose. They are afraid of me because I don't conform
to what they expect of me, because I have a shaved head, because I say
what I think. But if they feel intimidated by that, then it's not my
problem. I've to fight against that, may I can't lose myself in the
struggle. That's one thing fame has done for me, I have the possibility
to really mean something. And I'm planning that.
Do you feel
SINÉAD: No, no, not that. I felt isolated, I did.
Because people know beforehand what kind of person you are.
you working with new music now?
you soon planning to?
SINÉAD: Not soon no.
then? In a year?
SINÉAD: I've no idea. But right now I have
nothing to say through music.
I think that people, at a
certain level, enjoy your opposition.
SINÉAD: More than the
media let you believe. Because I've never received an insulting letter
from anyone. I receive hundreds, really hundreds of letters of people
and they all support me.
How do you convince the other
artists, that they will take such a powerful stand like you have?
You can't. You can only manage that with yourself. I've given up
convincing other artists.
So you did try?
expected that people would put their money where their mouths were when
that controversy at the Grammies took place. Bu now I've really given
up. I just do what I want and they can all go to hell. Either they stand
behind me or they don't; but I don't care anyway. If you look at the
Hip hop scene, I think they are the only people who have fought for the
truth one way or the other and been yelled at for it the most. It's easy
to yell at them because they are black.
They are also
threatening and scary.
SINÉAD: Because they are black
are your heroes now?
SINÉAD: The black people are my heroes.
Bob Marley is a big hero for me. I think that the African culture and
the people who have fought for the preservation of African culture, are
my heroes and my example. Also the Buddhists are an example for me.
you fall easily in love? Can you easily love someone?
Oh yes. But it's not easy for me to show my love. I also don't feel
very comfortable when someone verbally or physically expresses his love
for me because I - of course uh, I don't know, I'm very insecure and
have little self-confidence.
Which part of child abuse is
intentional according to you?
SINÉAD: It's all unintentional.
They're all just adult children with their own children. It was all not
Have you ever talked about this with your mother?
No. Before I could talk about it with my mother, she had passed away
for a long time, but I know that she knows how I think about it. I did
talk a lot about it with my father. It was all not intended.
he know what had happened?
SINÉAD: Yes, he knew it. He
really tried his best, he did what he could do, what was in his power.
It was all not intended.
Have you never hoped, deep in your
heart, that he would drop by and take you all with him?
He did that, he had done that. But we also couldn't live without
You rather wanted to go back?
look, instead of letting kids go from one parent to the other, you have
to help the parent. It's him or her who needs help. You know, it doesn't
happen all on purpose, that's the sad thing about it all. They are
wasted lives, very sad.
Would you wish you could talk with
your mother now? Do you wish she was right here?
because it's better for her and for me that she's dead. Now that she's
dead, I have a better relationship with her than when she was still
alive. I remember that I talked about it before she passed away and I
said: 'Why did you hit us?' And she said: 'I've never done you
anything.' She believed that she had done nothing, because it was too
shocking for her to deal with it. Now I'm very sure that she was very
sad when she had hit us, because my father has told me that afterwards
she was always completely upset. I think that she - and my father thinks
the same by the way - was destined to be unhappy. She had in her life
all possibilities to be happy, all circumstances were there for her.
Just like with me. But she couldn't be happy. She couldn't express
herself, she couldn't give love. She had to be abused as a child, one
way or another. She really couldn't show love. She just couldn't handle
it. I love my mother. I've always loved my mother. I've always
understood that she didn't mean it that way, even when she hit me. I've
never hated her; I've never had a grudge against her. I've always
understood that she suffered herself and that she didn't know what she
Do you notice the fact that you're famous causes a
problem for your family?
SINÉAD: Absolutely. It has been one
big source of misery. Because there was so much crap in our family, it
was easy to blame me for all that crap, because I was famous and really,
my family couldn't handle that. Because they saw me more often in
papers than in real life, they thought I only worried about myself and
that I couldn't care less about the rest.
In the beginning of this year I just had a nervous breakdown, because I
had the feeling I was behind a wall from which I could look outside but
no one could look inside: nobody saw me and around me were all those
people who said I didn't care about anyone else. Nobody talks with you
about the weather or the price of eggs, dammit. I wanted to kill myself,
because there was such a big gap between me and the family. Numerous
times I've seriously considered committing suicide. Because I just
didn't see a solution. But now everything is all right and we've talked
it through, because we love each other and love always conquers.
Why would someone say that you only care about
SINÉAD: Because I managed to escape. I've escaped,
that's all. I've taken care that my dreams have come true. Mine have
come true, but those from the others not at all. I remind the people
constantly that they are suffering. And when I talk in public about
these matters, they don't like that. Because they rather want to wipe
these things under the rug.
Which of your dreams haven't come
SINÉAD: None of my dreams have come true: it's an
And your dreams about men?
I'm not dreaming about a man. I dream about the things of which I
learned to dream as a child. That's all bullshit. That's child abuse as
well. You are raised with the idea that a woman isn't complete if she
hasn't found a man, and so on, and so on, and not having any kids.
Don't you agree with that? I'm not feeling
complete without a woman
SINÉAD: No, I want to be complete
myself. Also with a man you can be incomplete. I strive to be a complete
person. If that means that a man belongs to me, fine, but I'm not
complete because he belongs to me.
Of course I desire after a man who falls desperately in love with me. If
that happens, it happens and I cannot do anything about that. In the
mean time I'm dreaming that I discover myself.
Because I'm bald, people assume I'm angry. And because I express myself
rather direct and have a face of which you cannot always read what I
feel or think or what I say - I just always look angry, real angry. But
I'm not. I'm Irish. I invite anyone from the USA to come to Ireland and
study Irish women. I'm a typical Irish woman, especially a typical Irish
woman from Dublin. We are tough women. At the same time we are soft,
but we are tough and don't mess around. And we curse a lot.
you will meet a man and you would fall in love with him and he with you
and he would say: 'I love you and I'm crazy about you, but I saw a
picture of you with a wig and you looked fantastic. Don't you want to
let it grow?
SINÉAD: Then I would realize that he doesn't
love me at all.
But maybe he would really love you. It's not a
trick question; I don't try to trick you.
SINÉAD: Oh, no,
no. I just would think: 'Get the hell out of here.' Look, if I want to
grow my hair - which I want - then that's something I want and not
because someone else would like that.
Is that kind of
intimidation something you have thought out yourself?
Are you sure?
SINÉAD: Absolutely. I haven't
consciously made up such thoughts. That's because ofâ€¦
thought it subconsciously?
SINÉAD: No! It's because I enjoy
wearing certain clothes. It's because I like to have my hair a certain
way and that I feel the same as all other people. Everyone judges a book
by its cover. The have always scolded me about my appearance.
that the reason why you shaved your head?
SINÉAD: No. I just
refuse to become someone else because of that.
Do you want to
wake up every morning with the feeling you have to defend your views in
SINÉAD: I have to do that every day, yes. In certain
Don't you ever want to get away for a long
weekend, and to leave behind all those things SinÃ©ad O'Connor has to
deal with every day, just to not care about it for a while?
What I'm dealing with, is what God instructs me. And I gladly do that.
are really sincerely convinced by that, right?
SINÉAD: Yes, I
believe that God doesn't load someone with more than he can handle.
the fact that you keep shaving your head - clearly a conscious choice -
is that, perhaps even subconsciously, because you're a victim as well?
Was a victim.
SINÉAD: First, the fact that I had shaved my
head was never conscious. I mean, I didn't try to say anything with
that. I just got bored once, and I wanted to shave my head, that's all.
It was already shaved at the sides and I didn't want to go further then.
That stuff with hair is in my opinion a huge subconscious standpoint,
yes. Yes, I suppose that's it's a subconscious rejection of conforming
oneself, and from family and everything that you can understand in that
word 'family'. I'm letting it grow at the moment.
Do you have
the feeling that you're a victim?
SINÉAD: Yes, me and
millions of other people with me, we are the victim of a society that
strives after material success to fill the void in them. And the result
is, that people are immensely suffering and that leads to child abuse.
And I'm a victim of that, yes. I'm a victim of a society that doesn't
believe in self-expression or fights for the truth.
future of Rock And Roll, you think?
SINÉAD: That's very
difficult. At first, you can't see music separately from politics,
because music has always been the voice of the people. If you like it or
not, it's always been that way. (Sighs) God, I believe that the music
industry nowadays is a micro cosmos of the world in its whole. And you
can see that the most important goals in the music industry are
materialistic and the most important goals of the artists are: fame,
being famous, money. That's what it's about and they stuff their videos
full of it and tell everyone else. I wish that would change.
hop is doing that more than anything else
SINÉAD: I don't
believe they're doing it more than the others. They're doing it as much
as the videos of Heavy Metal.
In Hip hop they are more aware
of status symbols
SINÉAD: Yes, because the black people are
the poorest people in the USA. And they don't want to live in poverty
and they are convinced it's about material success, that it's about
that. And that is just not true. And it's outrageous when artists keep
promoting that conviction.
Do you believe Rock and Roll will
continue to exist in the future?
SINÉAD: It's in decline. You
turn on the radio, to any station in the world, and the only thing you
hear is crap. You never hear a record. You hear entertainment and a part
of that is very good; but you'll never hear conscious music. You'll
never hear something that inspires you, by which you start to think, by
which you start to fantasize. You'll never hear that. It's in decline.
last question: What's the best Irish joke you ever heard?
Why are Irish jokes so stupid?
I don't know, why?
Because the English are supposed to understand them.