3 essential Sinéad O'Connor songs you need to hear

The Irish singer appears to have suddenly passed away on Wednesday. She was 56.
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Sinéad O'Connor passed away suddenly on Wednesday, according to a press release from her family and confirmed by RTE. She was 56 years old. O'Connor was known for being provocative in her lyrics, but also backing up her lyrics with acts that helped some and dismayed others.

Perhaps best known for a song she didn't write, Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U," she was worthy of listening to far beyond that one song. O'Connor had 10 studio albums in all, and she never stopped creating songs that were raw emotionally. Her lyrics very much matched the way she would perform the track as well. With O'Connor's music, she hid nothing.

Outside of her music, though, she was very private. In fact, the cause of her death is unknown at the time of this writing. She was open about struggling with mental health concerns and mentioned thoughts of suicide more than once. She said on a 2007 appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Whatever the reason for her death, I am sure the world will find out soon enough. But she will always be remembered for her music.

Three essential Sinéad O'Connor tracks

"Black Boys on Mopeds" (1990)

This song from her second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, is achingly sad. As you might imply from the title, the track involves two English teenagers who are riding mopeds that the police assume are stolen and are killed for that reason. But the track is really one that is anti-England. O'Connor is an Irish singer, so her distrust of the English makes sense.

But her use of words in the lyrics are what always separated her from other's who made the same kind of music. The first verse, "Margaret Thatcher on TV/Shocked by the deaths that took place in Beijing/It seems strange that she should be offended/The same orders are given by her," is simply brilliant.

But the way that O'Connor delivers the words with just the right amount of angst and empathy while an acoustic guitar backs her is beautiful. Listen to song without words and it's still outstanding, but the lyrics are what hits home.