WOMEN’S MONTH: Ode to Dolores, an era of Generation X female rockers

By: Erwin M. Mascariñas

It was a generation screaming for change while hooked at MTV and VH-1 music channels, magazines and songbooks. A generation of slackers, yet it’s rebellious angst and outcry reflected not only on its fast changing fashion sense but also in the music that they listened. Ever in defiance, they called those who grow up along the era as Generation X.

It was along these timeline that I discovered the musical genre of rock. It was an era where we had genre, sub genre underneath another sub genre of music. Years of odd twists created an era where you hear one rock enthusiast argue with another as they disagree with British Punk Rock to that of American Funk, from Heavy Metal to Death Metal, or from Soul Ballad to Power Ballad, yet today we all call them one and the same.

It was 1993 when we first decided to create our own campus rock band in Father Urios College named Vauxhall Membrane, a unique twist among friends with almost no training on handling musical instruments but armed with passion and misplaced confidence. Our influences ranged from New Wave such as U2, Depeche Mode and REM to Heavy Metal such as Guns n’ Roses, Metallica and Megadeath. Yet the biggest musical influence that evolved on us along this era was coined as Alternative Rock and its sub genres of grunge, indie rock and geek rock.

Somewhere along these influences, an odd mix emerged into the scene; we saw the rise of women who had their own alternative rock bands and even selling out tours and concert events worldwide. We found them cool, in beat and very versatile. Feminine yet with the angst that we all screamed on and slammed dance our way while head bangin to their beats.

From late 80’s to mid 90’s, we saw the rise of women bands in the world of alternative rock. Groups and performers such as Pixies, Sinéad O’Connor, PJ Harvey, Venorica Salt, The Breeders, Juliana Hatfield Three, Belly, 4 non Blondes, Elastica, Sonic Youth, Natalie Merchant, Hole, Garbage, No Doubt, Portishead, Alanis Morissette, Liz Phair, Tori Amos and one of the most influential of them all, an Irish alternative rock band named The Cranberries.

The Cranberries emerged into the rock scene on 1992 with their hit single “Dream” followed by “Linger” on 1993, which was composed and written by Dolores Mary O’riordan and Noel Hogan (lead guitars, co-songwriter). The band’s early music depicted signature Irish-Brit rock progressive beat but mixed with a unique blend of Celtic melodic tune which reverberated with the voice of O’riordan with the distinctive Irish accent.

On January 15, 2018, sad news of the demise of Dolores O’riordan reverberated the music industry. Her lyrical content was an anthem for thousands of people who went through some rough times in the 90’s. The songs became themes of love, forgiveness, death and moving on for several of the people in know. And yet some of those she wrote were songs that echoed anger and rage against political violence as well as social issues she wanted to bring across her audience.

Her melodic hum which switched along the verses and bridge in most of her song provided a sweet appeal of depth and tranquility. A soft spot that transcends most of those who listens into a short nostalgia of a world they so need of yearning.

Indeed her sudden death at 47 was a shock into the music industry as it has yet to move on from the passing away of Grunge icon Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave), Chester Bennigton (Linkin Park) and rock icon Tom Petty in 2017.

Her presence in the rock scene pushed for more women to push and work harder in the music industry. Even small town local rock bands were inspired by her enigmatic presence.

Amid her death, O’riordan is already a music icon in the alternative rock world of the 90’s and her musical influence will continue to influence not just generation X but other generations to come. And hopefully, women will continue to follow on her music example, creating more legendary women icons in the world of rock.

An ode to Dolores. A salute to the women of rock.

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