”It just so happens that what I do naturally causes trouble,” Sinéad O’Connor said once in a rare moment of understatement. ”I’m proud to be a troublemaker.” And of late the trouble is piling high. To trace the progression of her snips ‘n’ snipes, what follows is the Sinéad O’Connor fever chart:
*Dec. 8, 1967 In Dublin, Ireland, O’Connor is born nearly bald and screaming, a combination she decides to stick with.
*December 1987 O’Connor releases her first album, The Lion and the Cobra, a stunning mix of Van Morrison and Madonna. In a hint of goodwill to come, she denounces U2 singer Bono — an early O’Connor champion — as ”a stupid turd.”
*Feb. 20, 1990 She scores a huge hit with ”Nothing Compares 2 U,” from her second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. Written by Prince, the song thus places her in the dubious company of Sheena Easton and Vanity 6. O’Connor later distinguishes herself from Easton and Vanity by accusing Prince of physically threatening her during a meeting at his Minneapolis office. In interviews, she begins to reveal that she was physically abused by her mother, who died when O’Connor was 18.
*May 9, 1990 She declines to appear on Saturday Night Live with scabrous comedian Andrew Dice Clay as host.
*Aug. 24, 1990 After O’Connor refuses to allow the national anthem to be played before her concert at the Garden State Arts Center in New Jersey, Frank Sinatra (the Andrew Dice Clay of lounge singers) publicly offers to ”kick her in the ass.” Rapper Hammer offers to pay her airfare back to Ireland.
*Feb. 1, 1991 She refuses to attend the Grammys, denouncing the music industry as materialistic. ”I’m psychologically quite screwed up in ways that I wasn’t before (stardom),” O’Connor explains.
*March 7, 1991 She proclaims her love for Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose (the Andrew Dice Clay of hard rock): ”You just want to bring him home and give him a bowl of soup.”
*Sept. 22, 1992 Following her third album, am I not your girl?, she attacks feminists and religion in Rolling Stone, expressing pity only for herself, Joan of Arc, and convicted rapist Mike Tyson, whose accuser O’Connor calls ”a bitch.”
*Oct. 3, 1992 Capping a busy month, even by her standards, she follows her rendition of Bob Marley’s ”War” on Saturday Night Live (didn’t they learn anything in 1990?) by shredding a photo of Pope John Paul II and proclaiming, ”Fight the real enemy.” For a few seconds all across America, remote-control buttons are still. Surprise, surprise, Madonna promptly disses O’Connor in the Irish press for ”ripping up an image that means a lot to other people.”
*Oct. 16, 1992 Ironies don’t stop there. O’Connor is booed off the stage at Bob Dylan’s 30th-anniversary concert, giving her something in common with the guest of honor (who was booed at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival for showing up with an electric guitar). Producer Don Was asks O’Connor to do a duet on the new record he’s producing for Willie Nelson. She agrees; they record the next day. Andrew Dice Clay will just have to wait his turn.