One of my favourite artists is the folk musician Eric Bogle. In one of his songs, he reflects about the hump-back whale, and what it might be like to be at the sharp end of the harpoon:

The saddest sound I’ve ever heard
Is the song of the hump-back whale
His moans and sighs and his eerie cries
Sing a sad familiar tale
For he sighs and blows as if he knows
His race is nearly run
And that soon with all of his kind he’ll fall
Before the whaler’s gun

For every living thing on earth
Nature made a space
Each a living strand of a fragile plant
That can never be replaced
And not from need but from want and greed
Man’s torn down nature’s web
With greed possessed he will not rest
Till the last of the whales is dead

In my mind’s eye I can see them die
As the whaler finds his mark
Hear the muffled boom of a cruel harpoon
As it blasts their lives apart
I see the flood of the rich dark blood
As it stains the ocean red
That bloody green will not wash clean
Till the last of the whales is dead

I’ve never heard a hump-back’s song, of even seen the creature. But I have heard not a few injured dogs yelp, and it’s a song which cuts and offers no healing.

Bogle’s song reminds me that life of full of songs, and not all of them happy, or human. Sinead reminds me of that too, only her songs are mostly of joy and uncompromising playfulness which too is part of life’s symphony. She loves to sing. And the different tones and meters of her tunes reflect the different moods that she is in. To parody Bogle,

The sweetest sound I’ve ever heard
Is the song of this alluring girl
Her moans and sighs and her joyous accents
Tell of life, hope, and of a disciplined carelessness.

The sound of a river scurrying over rocks while you’re standing in the middle casting a fly is like nothing else in the world. The sound of a child singing simply for pleasure is also like nothing else in the world. Logan Pearsall Smith once said, ‘What music is more enchanting than the voices of young people, when you can’t hear what they say?’

W H Auden was on to something: ‘No opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible’.