Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Cranberries - Forever Yellow Skies

I try to think a few reviews ahead, helps me keep a schedule, but also it gets me thinking about what I should write. I had the early part of this year mapped out. Talk about my favorite album of last year, talk about a couple female fronted European metal bands, finally talk about Of Monsters and Men, and then March; St. Patrick’s Day is in March, might as well embrace my Irish heritage and talk about an Irish band, The Cranberries are super Irish and I like a lot of their songs, I should do that. Furthermore, no one ever talks about my favorite Cranberries song “Forever Yellow Skies” I should do a review on that.

That was my plan.

Then on January 15th of this year, Dolores Mary Eileen O'Riordan died.

My plan has not changed, but this review has likely just become a lot more topical.

In the early nineties, The Cranberries found great success from their first three albums, “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” (1993), “No Need to Argue” (1994) and “To the Faithful Departed” (1996). It is these three albums that I best remember The Cranberries for, in fact I have very little memory of their three follow up albums, I might have to revisit those sometime soon. All the songs I remember come from those first three albums, songs like “Dreams,” “Linger,” “Zombie,” “Ode to My Family,” “Ridiculous Thoughts,” No Need to Argue,” “Hollywood,” “Salvation,” “Free to Decide” and not as famous “Forever Yellow Skies.”

They had a lot of hits song, I kind of forgot how good they were.

One thing I do remember was The Cranberries temporarily breaking up in 2003. I was always under the impression the reason for breakup had to do with Dolores choosing to spend more time raising her children but looking at it now, I have learned that her solo career began not long thereafter. Nonetheless, The Cranberries did reform in 2009, but I would not hear about it until 2012 with the release of their album “Roses.” I bought that album when it came out, I was really curious to find out what The Cranberries had been up to up to that point. It was a nice album, but I did not love it, none the songs stuck with me, at least not yet; sometimes a few more listens changes things.

Now I just learned The Cranberries released a new album last year titled “Something Else,” now I have even more homework. As I look over The Cranberries career I see there is a lot I do not remember, and a lot I am sure I have never heard. I am going to have to rediscover the Cranberries sometime very soon. Fequently I benefit a lot by writing these as it forces me to sit down and look things and I learn a lot, I discover many things I have missed.

The third album, 1996’s “To the Faithful Departed” was one of the four albums I owned, and it possibly The Cranberries’ most popular album. “Hollywood,” “Salvation: and “Free to Decide” were all huge hits when the album was new, and all of them are well remembered by fans, however my favorite has always been “Forever Yellow Skies.” I am a rock and roll guy, that should be obvious by now, and I like songs with some force behind them. I like my ballads too, and I really like songs like “No Need to Argue,” but I tend to like a quick drum beat and some exciting energy coming from the vocals, and to the best of my knowledge no song in The Cranberries arsenal fits that description better than “Forever Yellow Skies.”

The intro to “Forever Yellow Skies” is immortal in my memory, it pops out instantly with those drums, but more so with that bassline, when that hits the high times begin and away we fly into yellow skies. Classic of The Cranberries, Dolores wails away with her Irish accent somehow pushing through and giving it all that radiant charm we all love. It is a fast passed and fun song, and I have never grown tired of listening to it over the thousand plus times I must have listened to it by now.

I would love to simply give Dolores and the crew full credit for such an upbeat song, but I would be remiss if I did not mention the lawsuit.

Another Irish rock band active in the nineties, Blink, sued The Cranberries because “Forever Yellow Skies” was, they believed, a rip-off of their song “It’s Not My Fault.” Blink won the lawsuit after it was determined that the two songs were too similar for it to be a coincidence, and I hate to agree because I love The Cranberries and “Forever Yellow Skies,” but I must. The iconic intro of “Forever Yellow Skies” is identical to “It’s Not My Fault,” most notably, and most importantly, the bassline is the same, and that bassline kind of carries the whole song. It is the same bassline during the bridge as well. That part of the song is clearly lifted from Blink’s largely forgotten song.

The howling in “It’s Not My Fault” is wildly different both in content and final sound of “Forever Yellow Skies” but the style of strong belligerent passion being loudly shouted is similar in emotion. Ultimately, I can understand why Blink sued, and also, why they won. 

Blink - It's Not My Fault

Not to be an apologist for The Cranberries, and I cannot claim to have any unique knowledge into the creation of “Forever Yellow Skies,” but, it is entirely possible that someone from The Cranberries, perhaps the bassist, heard something, and then recreated it without thinking.

I remember Ozzy Osbourn talking about this once. He stated that he did not listen to other hard rock and metal bands, because if he heard it, he would start to think about it and then would write something like it, unconsciously. Given Ozzy’s age and consumption of mind altering substances over his life, he might be forgiven at this point for having an untrustworthy memory, and it is probably very wise of him to guard himself from this sort of unintentionally intellectual theft, but the reality is, human memory is generally horrible, and it is very easy to absorb something and recall it later without realizing it. In the end however, wittingly or unwittingly, “Forever Yellow Skies” is a modified version of Blink’s “It’s Not My Fault.”

Despite this disheartening fact, I do not believe that it takes very much away from the enjoyment of “Forever Yellow Skies.” In the end, we the fans, now have two songs to enjoy, one very good and the other excellent.

We have experienced many celebrity musician deaths recently, and I try not to jump on these things when they happen because I do not feel I have anything unique to add to the sadness of the departed, nor do I wish to clumsily garner attention to my whimsical writings for the wrong reasons. But, since I am talking about The Cranberries anyway, I might as well have a short section about Dolores death.

The cause of Dolores’ death have not been released yet, and I am curious to learn what it was, because she has left us at the age of forty-six, which is far too young. I have not felt the sting of most celebrity deaths because many of them lived long full lives, but I find this one more upsetting because Dolores was comparatively young compared to most. So, basically, that sucks, and I do not have anything more meaningful to offer. I did not know Dolores personally, she was a cool person, who made songs I liked, what could I possibly say to ease the pain of her loved ones?

The only solace I can give is this, a legacy has been left behind. There are accomplish that. There are few who get to be remembered as great artist and Dolores does get to have that. People are going to be listening to Cranberries songs forever. In that strange sense, she gets to live forever.

- King of Braves

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