When Sinead Met John and George

by Tony Palmeri

December 12, 2003

[note: In the fall of 2003 I taught a class at UW Oshkosh called "The Rhetoric of Popular Music." One option students had for a final paper was to write an imaginary conversation between some of their favorite musical artists in which they discuss why what they do is powerful, popular, etc. As it turned out, I was the only person who chose the option!--Tony Palmeri]

Sinead O’Connor’s manager gives her a Christmas gift certificate for a free back massage in Dublin with Ireland’s best masseuse. During the massage Sinead falls into such a deep state of relaxation that she begins to fantasize about conversing with John Lennon in heaven. Their conversation follows . . .

Sinead: John . . . you look just like you did on the cover of Abbey Road. Long hair, beard, white outfit. No glasses though?

John: Everyone has 20/20 vision in heaven. The yanks on Earth would call it one of the “perks.”

Sinead: Well darlin’, I was one of yer many fans who thought you were a visionary with the Beatles, so I guess it’s appropriate that you have perfect vision now.

John: Thank you darlin’, but I was no visionary. I was only a rock and roll star. And I must say in all sincerity that I always loved Irish folk music but could never sing it like you.

Sinead: Oh, but your song “Luck of the Irish” from Sometime in New York City always makes me cry! . . . But I must get back to something--what do you mean you were “only a rock and roll star?” You taught a generation that all they needed was love. You taught people to imagine a world in which there was nothing to kill or die for. You gave voice to the hopes and aspirations of millions and millions of people! You brought. . .

John: (interrupts and starts singing to the tune of “You Are My Sunshine”)
You are my Sin-ead, my only Sin-ead
You make me happy, when skies are gray
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my Sin-ead away

Sinead: (laughing through tears). That is so beautiful!! I think for the first time I completely understand how all those teen-age girls felt when they cried and fainted as you sang.

John: Really? Well perhaps you can explain it to me?

Sinead: You touched my heart. . . you made me feel special . . . you are dynamic . . . and clever . . . I think your voice is glorious . . .

John: You know George Harrison got here almost a year ago, and he and I and Jim Morrison were talking about this very issue just the other day.

Sinead: How do you mean?

John: We found it incredible that all those years ago, “when we was fab” if you will, people took our political opinions more seriously because we had, as you say, touched their hearts and made them feel special. Some even ended up calling us “visionaries.” I have to hand it to George—-while on Earth he never let all that bullshit get to his head. He’s the same in heaven as he was on Earth!

Sinead: What about Morrison? What did he say?

John: He said that when the press began calling him a visionary around 1967 or so he started getting laid almost every night. (starts giggling).

Sinead: (laughing). John! Surely you jest! Thoughtful rock stars deserve to be looked up to every bit as much as thoughtful playwrights, thoughtful poets, thoughtful philosophers, thoughtful teachers, and thoughtful preachers.

John: (sighs). If you wish . . . but let me ask you a question. How did you feel when the crowd booed you off the stage of Saturday Night Live after you ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II?

Sinead: (puzzled). Angry, a little concerned for my safety . . . probably the same way you felt when you said “The Beatles are bigger than Jesus” and the Americans had a fit.

John: Right. Now let me ask you another question. Didn’t you find it incredible how seriously the public and the media took your actions and your comments?

Sinead: (a little defensive). Yes . . . but I was being serious.

John: Oh, I am sure you were. And I was very serious when I made my statement about the Beatles and Jesus. And Yoko and I were very serious when we had our “bed in for peace.” But think about it: I was taken seriously as an intellectual and political activist because I had touched peoples’ hearts. You were taken seriously because you had moved people with your beautiful rendition of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” (John gets animated). I mean, yeah it’s troubling that some people were ready to kill you for ripping a stupid picture of a sickly old man, but isn’t it equally troubling that some will believe anything you say, or at least not think critically about what you say just because you “touched their hearts”?!

Sinead: So John, what are you saying? That rock stars should never make political or controversial statements?

John: No, not at all. What I am saying is that the statements of rock stars ought to be analyzed with the same level of criticism that we would aim at statements coming from your thoughtful playwrights, thoughtful poets, thoughtful philosophers, thoughtful teachers, and thoughtful preachers. (at this point John notices George Harrison). George! George!

(Harrison joins the group).

George: Hi Johnnie. Hey Sinead.

Sinead: (in awe) None of my friends will believe this.

John: George, let’s you and I and Sinead sing that one Beatles’ song that summarizes everything I’ve been trying to tell our beautiful Irish friend.

George: Think For Yourself from Rubber Soul?

John: Right-O, mate. Know the words, Sinead?

Sinead: Yes!

(The three break into an a capella version of “Think For Yourself”)

I've got a word or two
To say about the things that you do
You're telling all those lies
About the good things that we can have
If we close our eyes

Do what you want to do
And go where you're going to
Think for yourself
'Cause I won't be there with you

I left you far behind
The ruins of the life that you had in mind
And though you still can't see
I know your mind's made up
You're gonna cause more misery

Do what you want to do
And go where you're going to
Think for yourself
'Cause I won't be there with you

Although your mind's opaque
Try thinking more if just for your own sake
The future still looks good
And you've got time to rectify
All the things that you should

Do what you want to do
And go where you're going to
Think for yourself
'Cause I won't be there with you

Do what you want to do
And go where you're going to
Think for yourself
'Cause I won't be there with you
Think for yourself
'Cause I won't be there with you

(John kisses Sinead’s left cheek and George the right. She wakes up from her fantasy and looks up with a big grin at the masseuse, who smiles back and winks and says “looks like you’ve been on quite a Magical Mystery Tour young lady”).