Heather O’Neill is a singer songwriter born in Ireland, but raised amongst the busy streets of the Chicago suburbs. Having lived in 18 unfamiliar environments before the age of 30, you could say she has seen it all, or at least most of it.

How “Nicotine and Neon” Fuses Blues, Grunge and Everything In Between

O’Neill fills the air with her smokey exotic vocals as she sings of personal diligence and self-commitment –which most can agree seems to have the unfortunate fall of going unrecognized quite often. In her newest single, “Nicotine and Neon,” O’Neill expresses the inevitable string of emotions people tend to feel as their hard work is undermined. While these are feelings that seem to drag along with someone as their hard work is undermined over and over again, Heather O’Neill has decided to flip the unavoidable into a soulful blues number with twists of 90’s grunge and thus created her song, “Nicotine and Neon.”

What Does “Nicotine and Neon” Mean?

When binding the toxic colorless stimulant of Nicotine, and the lively mood of neon colors, her oxymoron of a title is more than just just a clever play on words. “Hanging on, holding on, hanging on, waiting a long time.” O’Neill is making the statement of what a prolonged endeavor it can be to achieve a goal or desire. There is no need for her to explain to us what she is waiting for, or what she is holding onto, because it’s a feeling we have all felt before. But then O’Neill comes back with the lyrics “This place is cold and mean. Do it fresh, do it clean.” Is it the feeling of rejection, or not being good enough that she is referring to? Or was the hard work not even noticed enough to have been rejected in the first place? Her mysterious energy leaves the question open and ambiguous, but also with a hopeful sense of confirmation that there are others out there feeling this way too.

“It can suck you dry,” just like nicotine, but she wants us to be neon –bright, bold, and powerful.

One can feel the power and control in “Nicotine and Neon,” that is being taken by the irish-born songbird, Heather O’Neill. It is not just a story being told by her, but it is also the object of her hardwork and dedication within the song that is being recognized, as it should be, in a way that her listeners can relate to and inspire from.

Listen to Heather O’Neill’s “Nicotine and Neon” below or keep up to date on her website.

Written by: Carrigan Drallos


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