My Teenage Nostalgia: Singing Along to Dolores O’Riordan in the Car

The mid- to late 1990s shaped my musical tastes. I transitioned from loving George Michael and Debbie Gibson to developing a craving for a genre known as “alternative” rock, that leaned heavily in the direction of Seattle. Yet I also craved the sweeter sounds of that epic time period, and spent many hours listening to Belly, Bjork, Lush and, of course, The Cranberries.

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Dolores O’Riordan, in her prime

I think it was my first boyfriend, Pat, who introduced me to The Cranberries, whose beautiful debut Everybody Else is Doing it, So Why Can’t We? The album because a constant companion on trips between my parents’ home in Silver Spring to Pat’s home near College Park. The 22-minute drive provided the perfect time allotment to practice my vocals, as I’d sing along to every track, from “I still do” to the hypnotic “Dreams.”

As my musical tastes expanded, The Cranberries took a backseat to Hole, PJ Harvey, and angrier and more overtly sexualized chick rock in college. Eventually, Liz Phair would become my favorite. But not before I saw The Cranberries play at a D.C.-area stadium in 1995. That’s my last memory of the band’s significance in my life. But while my fandom faded, I still enjoyed much of the band’s sophomore efforts, notably the raging “Zombie” because it matched my angsty attitude.

Throughout my 20s and early 30s, I’d hear updates about Dolores from time to time, such as when she got married and gave birth to her first child.

When I heard she died, all of my personal ’90s nostalgia came back. I recalled the feel of the cassette tape in my hand as I popped it into the car stereo, en route to Pat’s place, and recalled that it was one of the last cassette tapes I ever purchased before I switched to CDs.

It’s so sad when someone dies suddenly, but I mostly grieve for her children. She left behind a 12-year-old, a teen, and a 20-year-old child.

I’m so grateful for music and motherhood today.

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