In the wake of Dolores O’Riordan’s sudden and tragic death, I’ve been thinking about how she and The Cranberries effected my youth. They were most popular during my teen years in the 90s and their music certainly had a prominent place in the soundtrack of my life.
“Zombie” from No Need to Argue
Oh man, this song… My best memory of it is definitely warming up before color guard competitions while Dolores wailed over us. Twenty of us girls would be crammed into a high school hallway in rows. Someone would hit this song on the boombox we carried around with us and we’d go into a modified dance routine in order to both hype our spirits and warm our muscles.
One particular instructor, a generally terrible beast, made us turn it off during an early morning warm-up once because she “just couldn’t take it right now.” I think we all fantasized about punching her in the throat that morning.
“When You’re Gone” from To the Faithful Departed
Every time I hear this song, even after all these years, I think about Jason Nice, the boy I absolutely adored in high school. He was one year ahead of me and I met him when we both took a world history elective. I fell in love with him when he was a slightly flabby, quiet loner who was really into art and drawing.
Later he started playing soccer, got super fit and gorgeous (not to mention popular), and I loved him still. I even went to all of the home soccer games just so I could watch him play.
I played this song over and over and over in my room at night while I daydreamed about Jason.
Ahhh, the particular sting of unrequited adolescent love!
“Dreams” from Everybody Else is Doing it, Why Can’t We?
This song just seems to encapsulate the whole decade of the 90s. It was hopeful and upbeat with an untamed edge. Dolores’ voice was so pure and yearning. I’d bet nearly every person who went through puberty during the 90s felt some connection with this song, slight as it might have been.
“Ode to My Family” from No Need to Argue
Who doesn’t remember cruising in the car trying to match your voice to Dolores’ while this wafted through the speakers?
“War Child” from To the Faithful Departed
I think this song was my first glimmer of social awareness. Because it was so simple and quiet, it was easier – for me at least – to grasp the social message Dolores was sending out. Whereas “Zombie” had such a driving and exciting beat, it was easy to miss the deeper complexities and meaning. In any case, “War Child” moved me to tears on more than one occasion.