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November 25, 2008

All That I Requested

“I'm walking through the desert-
And I am not frightened although it's hot -
I have all that I requested –
And I do not want what I haven't got”
- Sinead O’Connor, “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got” (click to play)

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As far as celebrities go, Sinead O’Connor was the musical equivalent of a shooting star.

She rocketed to fame on the success of her 1990 album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, featuring the ubiquitous “Nothing Compares 2 U” (written – in case the title wasn’t a giveaway – by Prince, at the height of his songwriting powers). She spent several months as the media's darling du jour before a few well-publicized and poorly considered public appearances (such as ripping up a picture of the Pope on live TV, refusing to perform after the National Anthem, etc.) brought her time in the spotlight to a turbulent, fiery end.

As for the album – it was the most poignant collection of songs many people had ever seen. The tracks are equal parts stark and passionate, vulnerable and strong, desperate and hopeful. They're the soundtrack of a lost romantic soul clamoring for peace and acceptance in her relationships, as well as her overall place in the world.

They are also the songs that my wife and I fell in love to.

Sinead’s hushed, passionate voice played in the background during countless long nights that my then-girlfriend and I spent together, talking into the wee hours, exchanging hopes and vulnerabilities on the long road to joining our lives together. When we didn’t feel like talking, we’d just lay in the dark and listen to the songs that spoke directly to our hearts. At that time in our lives, we were the center of each other’s world, and there was honestly nothing else I wanted other than the girl and the life that I already had.

Eighteen years later, I feel almost exactly the same way.

I don’t know why memories of the album’s title song came back to me recently – except perhaps that as Thanksgiving draws near, I’m thinking about the blessings I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy over the past two decades. Nowadays, it extends beyond just my wife – to my expanded family, and the beautiful place I live, and all the activities I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy.

When I listen to Sinead's remarkable voice today, I'm reminded to find meaning in the quiet moments, and comfort in the storms of life. My circumstances (not to mention my wife's) are certainly different than they used to be; life is more complex, more challenging, but at the same time, more fulfilled. It remains as desperate and hopeful as it did long ago – but with each passing day, more often than not, I find myself at peace with the way everything has played out.

For all of those things, I consider myself extremely fortunate. I have all that I requested – and I do not want what I haven’t got.


Legs and Wings 11/26/08, 1:39 AM  

Desperate and hopeful - that's life! You're right.

Congratulations on 18 years!

Anne 11/26/08, 5:05 AM  

She pulled some immature stunts in her youth, but she had a nice set of pipes and she never lacked conviction. It's nice that you and your wife have created your own soundtrack during the past 18 years. Sinead would be proud of her work.

Thomas 11/26/08, 5:36 AM  

Sinéad O'Connor a shooting star? Only if your world is limited to the area between LA and NY.

Here in Ireland she's still big, 18 years on.

Dave 11/26/08, 5:41 AM  


I really enjoy your writing and thoughts...your introspective look at your life. In many ways is mirrors my on circumstances.

angie's pink fuzzy 11/26/08, 6:31 AM  

this post gave me goosebumps

Backofpack 11/26/08, 8:14 AM  

Beautifully written Donald. I often feel hopeful, and seldom feel desperate. Mostly I feel peace. I think that when your desires are the simple desires of love, family and friendship, then life is often peaceful. I hope you find many more years of peace ahead.

By the way, I'd never actually heard Sinead's songs till I listened to the song you posted (and you are not surprised, are you?), she does have a beautiful voice.

jen 11/26/08, 9:13 AM  

Sweet post. Zach recently downloaded that Sinead song- I forgot how good it is.

Happy thanksgiving!

Rick Gaston 11/26/08, 10:08 AM  

Great post Donald. You are a truly blessed man. Great family and great friends. I know I'm one of them, har har, just a little pat on my back there. But seriously Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

21stCenturyMom 11/26/08, 1:18 PM  

Lovely. Congratulations on still being each other's favorite people.

olga 11/26/08, 2:56 PM  

Wow, man. 18 years. And feeling like yesterday. That's really something to be thankful for!

David 11/26/08, 5:33 PM  

everybody out here is a little jealous but maybe by listening some more we will find that same peaceful thankful place

robtherunner 11/26/08, 9:04 PM  

I remember listening to Sinead during high school when I was heavily into things I shouldn't have been into. Her words had great depth and her voice reached my soul back then as well. Thanks for the memories.

craig 11/27/08, 7:46 AM  

One of your best Donald. Thanks for expressing thanks so eloquently.

don 11/30/08, 9:26 AM  

I was watching the movie, "Forgetting Sara Marshall" last night and they played a version of "Nothing Compares 2 U" sung in a Hawaiian dialect. Very interesting.
BTW. I also like "The Last Day of Our Acquaintance" by Sinead. For me it perfectly captures the final day in my divorce.

Deene 12/1/08, 3:25 PM  

aaw, so sweet.
i knew she was an artist, i never listened to her music before.

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