Dolores O'Riordan: How The Cranberries made their hit single 'Linger'

Song propelled the Irish band to global fame and resulted in a support slot with REM, after Michael Stipe came to watch them record the music video

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Tuesday 16 January 2018 09:10
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The Cranberries perform Linger on Late Night with Conan O'Brien

As fans of The Cranberries process the sudden, shocking death of the band's iconic frontwoman Dolores O'Riordan, many have been sharing their memories of the group along with their favourite tracks.

Two songs have received repeated mentions: "Zombie", the band's devastating, nonpartisan protest song about the two children killed by a bomb planted in a bin by Irish republicans, and "Linger", the first song they ever wrote, and their first hit single.

In interviews, O'Riordan explained how "Linger" was inspired by an encounter she had at a club in Limerick called Madonna's, where a boy asked her to dance and gave her her first "proper kiss".

"Until then, I'd always thought that putting tongues in mouths was disgusting, but when he gave me my first proper kiss, I did indeed 'have to let it linger'," she told the Irish Times.

"I couldn't wait to see him again. But at the next disco, he walked straight past me and asked my friend to dance. I was devastated. Everyone saw me being dumped, publicly, at the disco. Everything's so dramatic when you're 17, so I poured it into the song."

She had joined The Cranberries - then called "The Cranberry Saw Us" - as a teenager after spotting an advert for a female singer in a rock band.

"Dolores came in with her keyboard, and she had really short hair, and she was very small," bandmate Noel Hogan recalled to Rolling Stone in a 1995 interview.

He admitted the band were "terrible" when they first started - "I knew about five chords and four of them are probably in 'Linger'."

But O'Riordan knew those monotonous loops he was playing had potential. The band scraped together the money they needed for a demo and signed to Island records. "Linger" was recorded with Stephen Street, because the band loved The Smiths.

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The single was a smash hit and the band were overwhelmed by the attention that followed.

"Michael Stipe came to the video shoot and the next thing we knew we were on a tour with REM," Hogan recalled. "I remember at this massive gig, gazing out at 50,000 people and thinking: 'Not so long ago I was sat in my parents' kitchen."

Years later, the boy who was the subject of "Linger" wrote a letter to O'Riordan, saying he hadn't meant to hurt her feelings, and could they meet?

O'Riordan, who at the time was married to Duran Duran's manager Don Burton, didn't reply. "I thought: 'It's too late. You dumped me!" she said.

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