Sharon Van Etten delivers a stirring cover of Sinéad O’Connor’s “Black Boys On Mopeds”

The song originally appeared on O’Connor’s 1989 album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.

April 25, 2019

In her interview with The FADER, Sharon Van Etten spoke on the importance of historical perspective in her music: "One of the things that I’m processing is how important the past is, how it affects me, trying to live in the now because any other time brings anxiety. You can acknowledge and move on while still being present." This balancing act of reflection and engagement is the crux of Van Etten's cover of Sinéad O’Connor’s “Black Boys On Mopeds,” recorded live for Sirius Xm and streaming above.

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The song was written for O'Connor's 1989 album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, and was inspired by the 1983 death of Colin Roach in London. Roach was shot to death at a police station, and officers claimed the 21-year-old died of a suicide. That didn't mollify local activists, though, nor did a controversial inquest which backed up the police's assertions. The song has a message of reconciling a country's noble national image with the stark, often bloody realities, and how difficult it can be to fight the urge to just run away. It was true in 1983, and the work continues now, as Van Etten's gorgeous acoustic cover reminds us.

Sharon Van Etten's fifth studio album Remind Me Tomorrow was released in January.

Sharon Van Etten delivers a stirring cover of Sinéad O’Connor’s “Black Boys On Mopeds”