Sinéad O’Connor on Oprah? No, this is not a Saturday Night Live sketch. Instead it’s a rare American television appearance for the Irish songstress. Today on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Sinéad will talk for the first time about her struggles with bipolar disorder. Her appearance comes almost 15 years to the day of her controversial SNL performance. Life has a strange symmetry sometimes.
From the first moment I heard Sinéad tear into the heartache of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” I knew I’d stumbled across something strange and wonderful. And over the years she has straddled that line between strange and wonderful, often hopscotching between the two. But always there was her voice, that clear and resonate instrument of her truth. Man, that woman can sing.
Of course, that same voice made her a lightning rod for controversy. Apparently, when you rip up the Pope’s picture on national television and yell “Fight the real enemy!” some people take offense. Funny how now, 15 years after her Oct. 3, 1992 SNL appearance, Sinéad’s claims of child abuse in the Catholic Church don’t seem nearly as insane.
On her official website, Sinéad says that Oprah sought her out to address her bipolar disorder and raise awareness about the problem. She will join her live in the studio, and taped segments on her U.S. tour and at her home in Ireland will also be shown:
“Oprah will be focusing on Sinéad as an artist, her balancing life outside career as mother of four, her newest album Theology, her role as an advocate, and how she has maintains this all while dealing with bipolar disorder.”
Since I have no problems with outspoken women — in fact, quite the opposite — I’ve always admired Sinéad. So I was thrilled in 2000, when she told Curve magazine that she was a lesbian, only to be a little befuddled when in 2005 she told Entertainment Weekly, “I’m three-quarters heterosexual, a quarter gay.” But however she does the math, her lesbian tendencies resulted in one of the most gorgeous lamenting lullabyes I’ve ever heard: “Emma’s Song.” In fact, every song off that album, Faith and Courage, is beautiful. And then there is the entirely site-appropriate “No Man’s Woman.”
Sinéad has always seemed like a woman on a journey. That journey has taken her on many roads, some strange and some wonderful, but always interesting. I’ve happily tracked her progress this far, and will no doubt continue to monitor her progress after these revelations. I mean, when even the back of her head is this fascinating to look at, how could I not?