Matt Nathanson Talks Sinead O’Connor’s I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss

The popular singer-songwriter does not hold back about his passionate feelings for Sinead O’Connor’s artistry. Warning: there is cussing.

sinead o’connor’s music gives zero fucks.
it always has.
it doesn’t care about trends or “cool.”
it doesn’t play a role.
it feels closer to art in that way.
it feels pure. like it came directly from that magical place where
the brain can’t get to it and take it apart.
sinead o’connor doesn’t suffer fools. so she’s never really been
malleable by others either. i like to think this is because she’s irish.
but i kind of romanticize the irish. but that’s ’cause i’m irish.
and also, because every irish person i know takes no bullshit.
but anyway, regardless… i think being irish has a lot to do with it.

sinead has always written direct lyrics.
no flourishes.
no unnecessary shit.
sometimes it knocks me out.
sometimes it makes me cringe.
being raw and earnest…
sometimes, for me, it strikes me as corny.
but that’s just my fear talking.
vulnerability is not something i do well.
but it is something sinead does VERY well.
she’s always been that way.
on some level, it’s like listening to a child talk.
she dials into that kind of unburdened voice when she writes.
and it makes me uncomfortable. like all good shit should.
unfiltered and true to the feelings.
to have an artistic voice that is so dialed into the self that it just
shits truth… that’s the only real currency we have as humans,
our own fucked-up, unique selves. sinead o’connor is all about this.

but back to the lyrics…

“you know i don’t much like life, i don’t mind admitting that it ain’t right/
you know i love to make music/
but my head got wrecked by the business/
everybody wants something from me/
they rarely ever want to just know me.”

“take me to church, i’ve done so many bad things it hurts/
yeah take me to church/
but not the one that hurts/
’cause that ain’t the truth and that’s not what it’s for.”

“i’m the only one i should adore”… ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!!!

sinead has ALWAYS written like this.
“last day of our acquaintance,”
“i want your (hands on me)”…
NAKED words. so fucking direct. and so fucking HONEST.
but on her last bunch of albums, her melodies have broken out of the
traditional pop thing… they wander. in this incredible way. and the words
are more exposed. and you’re glued to them. around every turn.
and she wraps her voice around ‘em. all awkward and raw…
and it just works.
i mean, her voice is a fucking gift.
it can rip your head off — “the voice of my doctor”
it can bring you down to the fetal position — “streetcars”
and it can plug you into THE. FUCKING. SUN — “take me to church.”
her songs are like private letters that are written with a REFUSAL to
be misinterpreted. it makes every album she makes seem crucial.
like electricity.

how crazy is it that someone who’s been kicked around so much by
the press and the public can remain this transparent in their art?
now, that’s a fucking artist right there.
to be thin-skinned enough to create from a place this honest, while at
the same time being thick-skinned enough to remain SO thin-skinned.
i got compromise in my blood. and it sucks.
so, for me, sinead o’connor’s transparency is the promised land.
artists show us our own shit by showing us theirs.
kanye west does this. pete townshend does this.
art needs to come from an unmolested place.
and these days that is so rare. and should be fucking celebrated.

this album is a long throw.
it unfolds.
it doesn’t grab me by the collar like her last record did.
and she is not the same artist who made the lion and the cobra
or i do not want what i haven’t got. and why the fuck should she be??
leave that to the terrified!
there is not another sinead o’connor.
no one does what she does.
she is an individual. and her art is unique.
and because of that… i am forever hooked.
i’m invested in sinead o’connor. the same way i’m invested in kanye west.
or paul thomas anderson. or haruki murakami.
i want to follow them. i want to go where they go. as they evolve.
and they always evolve… ’cause they’re starving for it.
and i take what i can from what they make.
they spill. and i get to sift through it and find myself.

Matt Nathanson is a songwriter and musician from San Francisco. In 2007, his release Some Mad Hope produced the smash hit single “Come On Get Higher” and subsequent hit singles “Car Crash,” “Falling Apart” and “All We Are.” His current single is “Headphones (feat. LOLO) and he is on tour now with Gavin DeGraw across the US. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram

(Photo credit: Brendan Walter)