The Cranberries' Final Album Celebrates The New Beginning Dolores O'Riordan Want When Dolores O'Riordan died in 2018, she left behind vocal tracks of what was intended to be The Cranberries' new album. Now, remaining band members have completed the album in her memory.
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The Cranberries' Final Album Celebrates The New Beginning Dolores O'Riordan Wanted

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The Cranberries' Final Album Celebrates The New Beginning Dolores O'Riordan Wanted

The Cranberries' Final Album Celebrates The New Beginning Dolores O'Riordan Wanted

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In the early 1990s, Americans were captivated by a young Irish singer.

NOEL HOGAN: She was so small and kind of very quiet. And then she opened her mouth and this amazing voice - this huge, huge voice came out. I mean, everybody just stopped in their tracks, looking, going - where did that come from?


THE CRANBERRIES: (Singing) In your head, in your head. Zombie, zombie, zombie. What's in your head...

MARTIN: That's lead guitarist for The Cranberries, Noel Hogan, remembering the day that Dolores O'Riordan auditioned to become the band's new lead singer. Within a couple of years, O'Riordan and The Cranberries would become a massive international success. The band cut several albums, then drifted apart. And recently, they had gotten back together. They were writing songs for a new record last year when O'Riordan was found dead in a hotel bathtub. A coroner called her death accidental drowning due to alcohol intoxication.

O'Riordan didn't live to complete this new album, but she did leave the raw materials for it - demos of her singing the new songs. So the band put them to music, and they're now releasing what they say will be the last Cranberries album. I talked with The Cranberries' drummer, Fergal Lawler, and guitarist Noel Hogan, recently. And Hogan told me that, months before O'Riordan's death, she had seemed like she was in a really good place.

HOGAN: She'd be very open about all the problems in her life. You know, she had the bipolar problem. And she had been recently divorced. And all that was kind of behind her. You know, she'd found a way to kind of cope with the mental health thing. And that's why she wanted to write so much.

And that's what she kept saying - you know, I have so much to say, I just need the music to put it to. So you couldn't really keep up with her, she had so - and that was always the way she was. It was a feast or a famine, really.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

HOGAN: So a lot of the songs, when people listen to them, they're going to hear a lot of kind of subject matter that's about things ending and things being over.


THE CRANBERRIES: (Singing) Trying to forget something that you know...

HOGAN: And that's what she's referring to - that point in her life where things had been not so great. She felt that that was behind her and this was a new chapter.

MARTIN: So this is an optimistic album.

HOGAN: It is, funnily enough.


THE CRANBERRIES: (Singing) Wake me when it's over. Wake me when it's over.

HOGAN: That's the thing I think we were trying to get across to people when they listened to it. She was in anything but a dark place at the point she wrote this album.

MARTIN: May I ask how you found out that she had died?

HOGAN: Dolores's brother, who she was very close to - he rang me on a Monday morning. And then he asked, would I call the boys? So I rang Mike and Ferg then straightaway.

MARTIN: When did you all - the three of you - then get together?

HOGAN: Would have been maybe about a month or so after Dolores passed away. We kind of said, we should listen to those demos and see what's there, you know. It would be nice to finish off what Dolores had started.

MARTIN: Oh, so you were already in that headspace. You thought, let's listen to her and see if there's something we can make creatively out of this.

HOGAN: Yeah. I think when we heard the first few tracks, it was kind of like - oh, geez, you know, she sounds really frail almost.


THE CRANBERRIES: (Singing) Yesterday's gone. Yesterday's gone and I'm open...

HOGAN: She was just singing softer than she had been the previous few years. So there was a nice vibe to it.


THE CRANBERRIES: (Singing) I'm sorry I left you. I'm sorry...

HOGAN: I think when we realized there was an album's worth there, we spoke to her family and said, look, how do you feel about us finishing the album? And they were very supportive. They were delighted, really, actually. They gave us their blessing.

MARTIN: What was the process like? You were working with these raw demo tracks that she had recorded. How did you marry that?

HOGAN: The funny thing is that, historically with us, Dolores hated hanging around the studio - was we worked on our parts. I mean, she'd get bored.

MARTIN: Nothing personal? (Laughter).

HOGAN: No, no. She'd tell you straight up, I'm going to give you, like, four backing tracks and I'm going off. I'll see you Wednesday. So in that sense, to go in and start recording to her vocals was actually a - quite a familiar place for us. But the problem was, it wasn't that long after Dolores had passed away. So you had the emotions that were there - very confused. Should I be doing this? Should I not? Every day, you go in, you put on your headphones. There's Dolores again.


THE CRANBERRIES: (Singing) Feel the storm is coming in. I wonder, where should I begin? In the past, in the past.

HOGAN: It's just, it's weird. But we'd kind of set a few rules going in that if at any point, we felt - no matter how far we were into it - this isn't right, we shouldn't be doing it, or it doesn't sound great - we'd just pull the plug on it.


THE CRANBERRIES: (Singing) Bring in the night. Bring in the night...

HOGAN: And suddenly, you know, we were three, four weeks into the thing. And the album was nearly done. And we were so delighted with the result.

MARTIN: I want to play the title track to the album. As we've discussed, all kinds of people are reading things into this. And, in fact, this is about the end of a dark time, not the beginning. But this is called "In The End." Let's listen to a little bit.


THE CRANBERRIES: (Singing) Ain't it strange, when everything you wanted was nothing that you wanted in the end? Ain't it strange, when everything you dreamt of was nothing that you dreamt of in the end?

MARTIN: What do you think when you hear that song?


THE CRANBERRIES: (Singing) Oh...

HOGAN: Yeah, it's a funny one. You know, it's - it was the last song we recorded in the studio. You're listening to it and the lyrics are very much - they're self-explanatory, really, on this song. You know what it is she's singing about. And you kind of know where her head was at at the time she wrote those lyrics.


THE CRANBERRIES: (Singing) Take my house. Take the car. Take the clothes. But you can't take the spirit...

MARTIN: You've made it clear that The Cranberries are over.

HOGAN: Yeah.

MARTIN: Have you made your peace with that?

HOGAN: It's hard because we've been doing this since we left school - the three of us, you know - before we ever met Dolores, for a long time.

FERGAL LAWLER: Yeah. We were talking about, you know, we'll never get to play these songs live.

MARTIN: I wondered that, yeah.

LAWLER: It was always the thing - you know, you record them in the studio one way, and then when you start playing them live, they kind of evolve into this different entity almost. So that's not going to happen with these, unfortunately. But you're just going to have to accept that that's the way it is.


THE CRANBERRIES: (Singing) If you, if you could return, don't let it burn. Don't...

MARTIN: Congratulations on this latest album. It's a moving tribute to her.

HOGAN: Thanks very much.

MARTIN: Noel Hogan and Fergal Lawler - thanks so much, you guys.

HOGAN: Thank you.

LAWLER: Thanks. Bye-bye.

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