I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
Released: March 20, 1990
Peak: 16 US, 11 UK, 114 CN, 11 AU
Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.6 UK, 7.0 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: alternative rock
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
All tracks are written by Sinéad O'Connor unless noted otherwise.
Total Running Time: 51:09
4.395 out of 5.00 (average of 19 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
“I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got became Sinéad O’Connor's popular breakthrough on the strength of the stunning Prince cover Nothing Compares 2 U, which topped the pop charts for a month.” AMG She “changes the fundamental meaning of the song,” RH bringing her “fragility and…ferocity.” RH Her rendition became a reflection on her difficult relationship with an abusive mother who died in a car accident five years earlier.
The raw emotion of the song also came through vividly in the video. It lacked the quick-cut style of most videos, offering a close-up of Sinéad’s face instead. She’s wearing a black turtleneck and singing against a black background “so it looks like her shaved head is floating in space.” SH A tear rolls down her cheek at one point.
“But even its remarkable intimacy wasn’t adequate preparation for the harrowing confessionals that composed the majority of the album.” AMG “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got lays the singer’s psyche startlingly and sometimes uncomfortably bare.” AMG She “weaves a stubborn refusal to be defined by anyone but herself.” AMG “The songs mostly address relationships with parents, children,” AMG such as the song Three Babies about her three miscarriages, SH and lovers, such as “her stormy relationship with drummer John Reynolds, who fathered O’Connor’s first child before the couple broke up.” AMG
The album’s title came to O’Connor in a dream about her mother. A medium told O’Connor that her mother asked for forgiveness. Sinéad’s sister was not able to offer forgiveness to which their mother said, “I do not want what I haven’t got” because she realized she didn’t deserve their forgiveness. RH
“In fact, the album is almost too personal and cathartic to draw the listener in close, since O’Connor projects such turmoil and offers such specific detail. Her confrontational openness makes it easy to overlook O’Connor’s musical versatility.” AMG “The album plays like a tour de force in its demonstration of everything O’Connor can do: dramatic orchestral ballads, intimate confessionals, catchy pop/rock, driving guitar rock, and protest folk.” AMG
The album opens with Feels So Different, which starts with The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr. WK The “brilliantly audacious…I Am Stretched on Your Grave” AMG took an anonymous 17th century Irish poem which Frank O’Connor translated into English and married it to “eerie Celtic melodies and a James Brown ‘Funky Drummer’ sample.” AMG Black Boys on Mopeds is about two black teenagers who died in a confrontation with London police. SH
“What’s consistent throughout is the frighteningly strong emotion O’Connor brings to bear on the material, while remaining sensitive to each piece’s individual demands. Aside from being a brilliant album in its own right, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got foreshadowed the rise of deeply introspective female singer/songwriters like Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan, who were more traditionally feminine and connected with a wider audience. Which takes nothing away from anyone; if anything, it’s evidence that, when on top of her game, O’Connor was a singular talent.” AMG
Notes: A 2009 edition of the album added a second disc of bonus tracks including “Night Nurse,” “My Special Child,” “Silent Night,” “You Do Something to Me,” “Mind Games,” “What Do You Want,” and “The Value of Ignorance.” It also included live versions of “Troy” and “I Want Your Hands on Me” (both from The Lion and the Cobra) and a remix of “I Am Stretched Out on Your Grave.”
Resources and Related Links:
First posted 5/10/2008; updated 8/2/2021.