David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 228: The Cranberries (Linger)

February 20, 2023

In late summer/early Fall of 1993, my wife and I moved from Bloomington, Indiana, to Detroit, Michigan, so that she could start as a science reference librarian for Wayne State University. She had just finished her MLS and I was in the dissertation-writing stage for my PhD. Away from the distractions of the college town I had lived in for almost 7 years, I should have been primed to knock out that dissertation from our apartment overlooking Lodge Avenue in Detroit. I had most of it written anyway.

Certainly Wayne State provided a very cool, cultural oasis in the middle of Detroit. Art and science museums were within walking distance, as were good restaurants and bars, even the Motown museum was a short hop away.  While those could be dangerous distractions, not knowing anyone initially upon arrival should have boded well for my finishing the damn dissertation.

That didn't happen quickly. Never underestimate a procrastinator's ability to find distractions. For one thing, I quickly found the region's alternative-music-themed radio station. (For the life of me, I can't remember the call letters or the frequency on the dial, and I haven't perfected a Google search to give me possible answers. I thought it was out of Windsor, Canada.) The station was good enough that it was opening my eyes to a lot of bands I was missing. Through them, I heard for the first time James ("Laid"), Belly ("Feed The Tree"), Morphine ("Cure For Pain"), and the Boo Radleys ("Lazarus"). As musically obsessed as I was (am), I was feverishly trying to find out more about these groups, hopping in my car to drive to Dearborn where the best record store was and filling my collection. Mind you, I am sure these same bands were on the college stations around Bloomington, but in Detroit they became my sole obsession, what with racquetball, Nicks, and Strat-o-matic baseball removed.

In other words, my word count for the dissertation was increasing less quickly than my cd count for my music collection. Through it all, I should have been listening more to Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? The Cranberries' debut album was also something this alternative station turned me onto. I just didn't have the wherewithal to hear that Dolores O'Riordan was singing to me with "Linger." 

"Do you have to, do you have to, do you have to let it linger?" lingers predominantly through O'Riordan's vocals in this dreamy ballad. Sure, it's all about romance and perhaps her first love (going by one narrative), but, good Lord, she must have been talking about my dissertation.  By the re-release of "Linger" in early 1994, I had chapter drafts pretty much done, bibliography mostly complete, but still I lingered way too long, thinking about pop culture, pop outs, and popcorn shrimp more than I did about popping in the old-fashioned floppy disk and making the intellectual changes my dissertation chair was recommending.

(Others who have pursued doctorates know that the Chair can often be a major detriment to completion. I want to go on the record, Cranberries' or other, that this was not the case with Dr. Nordloh. His editing certainly made me wonder how I could call myself a graduate of any English program, but he was always supportive and ultimately buffered me from the rest of the committee.)

"Linger" could have haunted me because of Dolores O'Riordan's vocal, which fills almost every second of the song, from bare murmurs at the opening, through the background, to her Soprano flourishes with the actual lyrics.  (Search long enough and you can find an isolated track of O'Riordan's vocals; it is worth it.) Too bad another Dolores, as in Mother Fleming, didn't tell me to listen to this other Dolores. I wonder if I ever played it for my mom. I suspected she would have liked it very much. She could have played on the heartstrings by reminding me of the song's string section asking if I have to let it linger.

When I did finally finish and defended my Doctorate, I was not above poking fun at my procrastination, sending the following out to the dozens of family and friends who had pretty much stopped asking, out of fear of my answers, when I would be done. Of course, I can thank dear old Mom for saving it:

In the end, O'Riordan and The Cranberries can serve as interesting bookends to part of my career, from no longer lingering and getting the dissertation done to almost dying in 2017 and coming back to work two months later to the strains of "Zombie," which I suspect only my Zombie-loving faculty even got. And, Mom, up in Heaven, it could have been worse: the soundtrack to my dissertation could have been "Time Is Ticking Out," which, given its 2001 release, would have certainly put me in the permanent ABD club.

The Cranberries. "Linger." Everybody Else Is Doing, So Why Can't We?  Island, 1993. Link here.

Day 227: Warren Zevon "Desperadoes Under The Eaves"

Day 229: America "A Horse With No Name"

See complete list here.