If I Could Only Take One

My desert island tune by The Cranberries

The third installment of my weekly desert island exercise brings me to the letter “c.” Some of the artists and bands I could have selected include J.J. Cale, Ray Charles, Cream, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Sheryl Crow. My pick are The Cranberries and Linger, a song I find exceptionally beautiful. The melody, the musical arrangement and the lyrics are all coming together perfectly.

Linger first appeared in February 1993 as the second upfront single of the Irish alternative rock band’s debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? That album was released two weeks thereafter in March.

The Cranberries’ second single became one of their biggest hits. In addition peaking at no. 3 in their native Ireland, it reached no. 4 in Canada, no. 8 in the U.S. (Billboard Hot 100) and no. 14 in the UK, among others. The single remained on the Billboard Hot 100 for an astonishing 24 weeks.

A beautiful great acoustic version of Linger was included on the band’s seventh studio album Something Else, released in April 2017. The record featured unplugged and orchestral renditions of 10 previously released singles, along with three new songs. Sadly, it would be the final album with Dolores O’Riordan who passed away on January 15, 2018, at the age of 46 years. The cause of death was determined as drowning in a bathtub due to alcohol intoxication.

Here are some additional insights from Songfacts:

Cranberries guitarist Noel Hogan wrote the music for this song before Dolores O’Riordan joined the band. Originally, it had lyrics written by the group’s first singer, a bloke named Niall Quinn. When O’Riordan auditioned for the band, she had some ideas for the song, and after she was hired, she wrote her own set of lyrics, turning it into a song of regret based on a soldier she once fell in love with.

The emotional, girlie sound was a huge departure for the band, but wildly successful. The song got lots of airplay from radio stations looking for an alternative to rap or grunge, and MTV put the video in heavy rotation [So did VH1 where I saw it repeatedly during my first semester as a student on Long Island, N.Y. – CMM]. The Cranberries became one of the best-selling bands of the mid-’90s.

In a Songfacts interview with Dolores O’Riordan, she described this as “a love song.” In the lyric, she describes being mistreated by her love and seeing him with another girl, yet unable to break free because he lets their relationship linger. This hardly seems the stuff of dreams, but the feeling of first love is what O’Riordan keyed in on. It brought her back to a time of innocence.

The Cranberries recorded the first version of this song in 1990 at their manager’s studio in Limerick, Ireland. It was one of three songs included on a demo they distributed to local records stores, which found their way to various record companies. Island Records signed the band, which released their first EP, Uncertain, in 1991. “Linger” was not part of that EP, as they wanted to save the song for when they built a bigger fan base.

Sources: Wikipedia; Songfacts; YouTube

6 thoughts on “If I Could Only Take One”

  1. I like this song -and the band – quite a bit but probably not to Desert Island levels. This is another tune of theirs I really loved as well. The whole thing brings me back to the 90s and for whatever reason, I think of the TV show “Friends.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Ode to My Family” is a beautiful tune as well.

      While I like what I’ve heard by The Cranberries, undoubtedly, they wouldn’t be my first choice for a desert island, if I could choose among all artists. However, The twist of the feature is that I’m pretty much excluding the usual suspects I’ve repeatedly covered like The Beatles, The Stones, Zep, etc. and instead focus on artists and bands I haven’t or have not covered much. The Cranberries fell into that category.

      I realize it’s an arbitrary concept. At the end of the day, it’s another way to write about music I like.


    1. I also cannot claim to have explored The Cranberries in greater detail either. Essentially, I know some of their songs. To me, “Linger” is a perfect combination of a catchy melody, an interesting voice and beautiful instrumentation.

      I remember when I heard “Zombie” for the first time, I thought Dolores O’Riordan’s wailing vocals were weird. They are in a way, but at the same time, there’s something very powerful about her voice that draws you in.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yea…when I first heard them I didn’t automatically like them..
        They started to grow on me and then I started to listen more. I know exactly what you mean.


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