‘Troy’ by Sinead O’Connor

This feels like a story. A direct address to someone: “I’ll remember it. And Dublin in a rainstorm.” I came out to Sinead O’Connor in 1987. I remember seeing the poster for The Lion and The Cobra and being arrested by it – Who’s that? The shaved head, the delicate thin-boned features. Many of O’Connor’s songs feel like protest songs or anthems. The clearness of her voice and the directness of the language are inseparable. Troy feels like the story of a past love, a stolen love. “But you should’ve left the light on.” The story of a crushed person at the end of love who will rise “phoenix”-like. But the acknowledgement of guilt is also present in the song. “And I never meant to hurt you.” It’s the fusion of rage and pain that carries it. And the classical refrains – The Homeric legend of Troy – and the dragons. There are urban myths attached to this song also. Some say it derives from WB Yeats’s ‘No Second Troy’: “Why, what could she have done, being what she is? Was there another Troy for her to burn?” Or that is about O’Connor’s parents’ divorce (her father was a lawyer and often the last line is denoted as you’re still a lawyer – not liar). This all adds to the track’s mystique and power. I may not understand all of the song but I don’t care. I paint my own pictures listening to O’Connor’s sound and raw energy. Toe-curling.

First released November 1987 by Chrysalis Records. Read the lyrics and listen here