It’s been two years since Amy Winehouse’s shocking (not shocking) death at age 27. I still listen to her music ALL THE TIME and imagine what it would have been like if she had lived a longer life. I mean, damn: even hanging on til 45 gives you a hell of a lot more material to work with.
So I’m reposting the piece I wrote on Intown Confidential right after she died. Even if you don’t read it, take a minute and watch her sing one of my favorites. When she breaks at around 1:20 – well, just watch . . .
July 23, 2011
So, Winehouse didn’t make it. Couldn’t keep up the fight any longer. Since she was such a tabloid dream, we all saw the dangerous signs of a life in total chaos, but somehow her early death still shocks and saddens. Her music was so meaningful to me and I want to remember her here.
I first heard her sing when “Rehab” was offered as a free iTunes download. I knew nothing about her, and I don’t make a habit of using iTunes to discover new singers but she intrigued me. I admit at first it was her look more than anything else that made me pay attention. That insane beehive, those crazy tats, the pencil skirts? I liked this girl’s style so I gave it a listen. It seems ill-timed to describe my feeling upon hearing her sing as something like addiction but it really was like what people say that first hit of meth is like: “I want more! Now! Again!” I couldn’t get enough of her and I felt something I hadn’t felt since I fell in love with Joni Mitchell in junior high.
Mark Ronson was the perfect producer for her; their relationship reminded me of other explosive artist-producer pairings that brought out the best in both. Her sultry voice with his 60s soul style production – mixed with improbably modern lyrics about her lover making her miss the Slick Rick gig – were intoxicating to me.
I remember throwing around her word (“fuckery”) all through the fall of ’07. Despite what were seemingly enormous differences between us – an about to be 40 mom of two and a superstar trainwreck – I felt like we knew each other in some way. Despite outward appearances, I heard her and knew I had some Amy in me. The way she sang about love and life felt so true and courageous. I admired her recklessness and tattered beauty. Like everyone else, I was sort of fascinated at the paparazzi photos of her in her grimy ballet slippers and running makeup. I wasn’t clutching my pearls, though. In a weird way, I loved her refusal to be anything other than her messy, raw self. In a world in which stars don’t even wear crazy get-ups to the Oscars anymore (I miss you, Cher
!) there was something exhilarating about her unwillingness to hide her pain.
When Amy released a couple new promotional shots last spring
, I felt hopeful that she was getting it together and that there might be something new coming soon. My hopes were dashed this summer when I saw video
of her being booed off the stage in Serbia. She was a dirty, sad mess. (By the way: f*** you, promoters so bent on exploiting her that you let her go on stage like that.) Now I know that all we’ll ever have from her is what little she left. And really, that’s enough. I’m grateful that I was able to be here at the same time she was.Amy, you’ll always be my girl. I hope that you find peace in whatever comes next.
(Note: For Halloween ’07, I dressed up as Amy and I have to say it was an awesome costume. It was before you could buy the wigs that looked like hers and I worked hard to sew 2 wigs together to replicate her distinctive style. I had a sleeve of tats, a wife-beater with a red bra, skinny jeans and ballet slippers. All day I’ve looked for photos but I think I deleted them all because I thought I looked too fat in that costume. Sad face.)