Cranberries guitarist Noel Hogan wrote the music for this song before Dolores O'Riordan joined the band. Originally, it had lyrics written by the group's first singer, a bloke named Niall Quinn. When O'Riordan auditioned for the band, she had some ideas for the song, and after she was hired, she wrote her own set of lyrics, turning it into a song of regret based on a soldier she once fell in love with.
The emotional, girlie sound was a huge departure for the band, but wildly successful. The song got lots of airplay from radio stations looking for an alternative to rap or grunge, and MTV put the video in heavy rotation. The Cranberries became one of the best-selling bands of the mid-'90s.
Dolores O'Riordan wrote this song about her feelings following the breakup with her first boyfriend, the soldier who broke her heart. She said the song is about "the way I reacted to infatuation."
In a Songfacts interview with Dolores O'Riordan, she described this as "a love song." In the lyric, she describes being mistreated by her love and seeing him with another girl, yet unable to break free because he lets their relationship linger. This hardy seems the stuff of dreams, but the feeling of first love is what O'Riordan keyed in on. It brought her back to a time of innocence.
The Cranberries recorded the first version of this song in 1990 at their manager's studio in Limerick, Ireland. It was one of three songs included on a demo they distributed to local records stores, which found their way to various record companies. Island Records signed the band, which released their first EP, Uncertain, in 1991. "Linger" was not part of that EP, as they wanted to save the song for when they built a bigger fan base. The strategy worked: the song was included on their debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?, and issued as their second UK single (after "Dreams"), it cracking the UK charts at #74 for a week in February 1993.
The band didn't make it to America until that summer, when they toured as the opening act for The The. "Linger" was issued as a single later that year, earning airplay on radio and MTV, breaking the band in America. They were already working on their next album when the song caught on in the States.
It wasn't until February 12, 1994 that "Linger" reached its peak position of #8 on the US chart. A week later, the reissued single topped out at #14 in the UK.
Dolores O'Riordan performed this song in the 2006 Adam Sandler movie Click. In the film, Sandler's character has a remote control that can take him back in time. When his wife reminisces about their first kiss, she asks if he remembers the song that was playing. Sandler uses the remote, goes back to the memory, and discovers that "Linger" was playing.
The movie appearance was a big deal for O'Riordan, who had a bit of a breakdown in the late '90s and spent a lot of time in the ensuing years raising three children and recovering emotionally from the travails of stardom - she was just 18 when she joined the band and ill-equipped for the sudden celebrity. She was considering a return to music when Sandler approached her about being in the movie. She released her first solo album in 2007.
The video for this song is a tribute to Jean-Luc Goddard's film Alphaville. In one of the rooms of the hotel, a silent film is being shown which features 1950s stripper Blaze Starr.
Suggestion credit: Ekristheh - Halath
In 2015, Dolores O'Riordan and Noel Hogan performed this song on a Season 11 episode of the reality dating show The Bachelorette, where a group of guys compete for the affections of one girl. This segment took place in Dublin, where the couple (Kaitlyn and Jared), visit Christchurch Cathedral to find O'Riordan and Hogan performing this song. This was the first time they played together since 2012; the following year, the group re-formed to tour, but that tour was cut short and abandoned in May 2017. O'Riordan died on January 15, 2018.
The Cranberries performed this song in many different arrangements, often doing it acoustic. On their 2017 album Something Else, they included a version with the Irish Chamber Orchestra.
"Linger" was the first track that O'Riordan and Hogan wrote together. Hogan told Q Magazine in a 2018 interview that he had little idea of what a huge hit it would be, mainly because when the band used to rehearse in their early days, he couldn't hear it properly.
"We didn't have much gear, so Dolores would plug a microphone into the guitar amp," he recalled. "That sound was dreadful so I actually never got to hear the lyrics until we demoed it. I could hear the melody and the odd words here and there, and we got that 'linger' was in there somewhere."
Eventually, The Cranberries scraped the money together to record the tune and Hogan got to hear O'Riordan's vocals properly. He recalled that he was pleasantly shocked. "She sang that and it was like, 'Oh my gosh… this is actually good!'"
Romanong Kurong from NagaI first heard “Linger” on DWEB-FM, the local rock station where I would find myself working as a DJ years later. It's a slow tune lamenting the infidelity of one’s beloved. I liked its unhurried rhythm; the song makes you take it easy and imagine lazy afternoons.
But I think it is O’Riordan’s keening voice that makes the song last. Her background vocals sounds sadder than the deep, sad voice singing the lyrics, which makes it more appealing.
It is her grieving voice that makes it worth listening. Besides this, I suppose it’s the repetitive “Do you have to let it linger? Do you have to, do you have to, do you have to let it linger?” that really makes the song “linger.”
Melinda from AustraliaA heart rendering song about being in love with someone who doesn’t appear to be in love with you. Waiting on a response. Of any kind. Some kind of indication of love and commitment. Hanging on every word they say. Waiting for their phone call.
No one did a love song back then as good as The Cranberries. I loved this song, but I love The Cranberries song ‘Dreams’ even more. Cause it’s loaded with lilting Irish love. In the same way. I was always in awe and impressed by The Cranberries when they hit the UK music scene. I didnt go see them. But I examined her, Delores O’Riordon’s raw style of fashion as much as their music. Cause shaving your head was, umm, out of fashion by then. And odd. Overall, I was in awe of the fact that they were Irish. And the chances on their popularity in the UK music market when being Irish then. Was severely unlikely. Regardless of how U2 succeeded long before. Older UK, Northern and Southern Irish people would know that... people outside of the UK have little or no understanding or knowledge of the fear, suspicion and and racism I guess ..that the Irish faced in the UK at that time. For very specific reasons. Terrorism. Lots of it. This song was a hit at the height of the IRA bombings/bomb scares on the UK mainland. And a volatile political situation all round in Late 1980’s to 1992 because of it. And at the height (was there ever low?) of the Troubles in Ireland. And all the fear. And daily murders. On both sides. With the British Army occupation of Nth Ireland. It’s easy to see The Cranbetries sung about it in their song Zombie. The Cranberries appear to be mainly from Limerick. And Delores O’Riordan would have been 1 year old during the ‘women and children evacuation’ of Limerick of 1972. But the whole band would have seen/heard of some shocking things growing up anyway. I think it undoubtedly influenced their music. The Cranberries were a talented successful band. In yes, a very hostile time in the UK. And Ireland. But, their overwhelming talent could not be ignored or disputed by the UK music press. I still believe they remained outsiders. Which was normal then for the Irish in the UK. But you have to admire them.
Michael Scott from Punta Gorda, FlNot much for adding things to an already beautiful physical feature but I have to say I Love her, and the band is great!
Mariah from New York, NyIf my life was a song. The guy played me. "Were you lying all the time? Was it just a game to you?" You have this thing and chemistry and it's like he doesn't care. He lets it linger... Don't let it fade :(
Jayro from Sao Paulo, BrazilJust like David Gates said in "The Guitar Man", "then you find yourself a message and some words to call your own and take them home", this song tells it all. It carries a piece of us all in each verse.
Megan from Stevenson, AlThis song is so good. Her voice is amazing and the lyrics are beautiful.
Michael Scott from Punta Gorda, FlBeautiful lyrics and music. The words of "ruining everything , I swore, I swore I would be true and honey (sounds like heaven) so did you". I like to think I'm listening to the right words, either way their great.
Iushe from Delhi, IndiaI hear this song like every day since years yet it never ever bored me. I wonder what my fav song would b if there was no dolores. She has got amazing voice...the song talks about being in love with sum 1 who does not feel the same way, yet you keep hanging on 2 them. You know that it is silly but you have no choice.
Candace from Long Beach, CaI'm in love, and it's so very complicated. The person I'm in love with is with someone else, but day after day, claims he wants no one but me, he only loves me. No action are attached to his words. So I dedicated this song to him. He truly is an amazing person, but everything lingers with him. Being in love, doesn't mean you have to be stupid. He knows what he has, and if he doesn't open up his eyes, it'll be to late.
Christy from Severn, MdOne of my all-time favorite songs. The lyrics are simple and describe emotions we've all felt at one time or another in our life, sure, but the music...and that voice...they leave a poignant effect on you.
Cyre from New York , NyI'm such a fool for this song. The lyrics are ok, but the girl's voice and melody makes it awesome.
Kim from Limerick, IrelandI love this song, I love Dolores and The Cranberries...and I can really relate to this song, makes me reminisce about my past.
Jessica from Logan, AustraliaBeautiful and thought provoking.... She knew what it was like to love someone so much its painful.
Camilo from Bogotá D.c, ColumbiaThis song means so much to me, It's beautiful but remind me some painful memories...
Heather from El Paso, TxI love how impactful there music is and I can really relate to this song. It's amazing.
Bertrand from Paris, FranceAlthough later hits would more dramatically demonstrate the vocal acrobatics of the Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan, "Linger" has an almost ethereal beauty that does indeed remain long after the song ends. It was the chart debut of one of the most striking voices of the mid-1990's.
Aggie from Suva, OtherI love the part where she sings "you know I'm such a fool for you" <3 This songs remind me of when I was younger coz I was when they first played it out on radio. <333 retro. It has a hint of sadness though.
Gerry Walsh from Melbourne, AustraliaA slice of heaven.
Mike from Kingman, AzHaunting song, in the sense that the melody and her voice "linger" with you. All Cranberries tunes are excellent or at least above average.
Michael from Montreal,que., CanadaThis song is bittersweet to me. The haunting melody and O'Riordan's voice together still blow me away...I never get tired of it and I never will.Good and not-so-good memories tied to this song. That's life. Thanks Albemarle,N.C.
Polly from London, EnglandSometimes it is hard to accept that there are flaws in a relationship and we tend not to see. It is diificult to get out if you are madly and blind in love. Dolores is a prolific writer.
Hayden from Northampton, EnglandThis song is fantastic never mind the previous comments about "Linger" because I find this song attractive and I do think this song has a moral behind it. I do not have a negative comment about The Cranberries because these are fablous singers and can sing for once!
Greg from Charleston, ScThe rat-a-tat-tat beat goes well with the singer's style of vocalization. Unfortunately, the song has been relegated to soft-rock type stations...maybe "Delilah" spins it some too?
James from Westchester, EnglandI had a hard time understanding the lyrics until I heard a live version of the song. Turns out her brogue really comes through, even singing. "Were you lyin' all da time?"
Dave from Marieta, GaDid you have to...Did you have to...Did you have to pull my finger?!
Joan from Pittsburgh, PaI tend to disagree about the lyrics comment. It talks about something we all go through at some point. We fall in love, and the other person flakes out, but they still give you signals or false commitment to make you believe that they feel the same. Anyway, I can play a mean acoustic version. It translates fabulously.
Colin from Columbia, MdIMHO, this is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Not so much the lyrics, but the fusion of Dolores' voice and the melody.