I’ll never forget first reading about the passing of Amy Winehouse. It actually left my mouth agape and my hand over it, something I had seen people do and never thought I would catch myself doing it. Was I surprised? No, of course not. It was still a shock, and it stung hard. I had hoped she might be one like Keith Richards, where everyone talks about how great it was she was still at it, or that she would retire and vanish from the harmful limelight like Lauryn Hill. Live on her own time, like she did for awhile when she was well in 2009, kicking it on the beach in St. Lucia with the locals, away from London’s bad influences and the paparazzi perpetually outside her house.
Unfortunately, I found out from a sorry attempt at a joke on twitter. “Maybe she should’ve gone to rehab after all.” A million hacks around the globe said it simultaneously. Even more unfortunately, the armchair pundits and self-appointed substance abuse and depression experts kept right on talking shit, and since I worked at a music store, a lot of them were talking to me, and I was duty bound to listen…but I was also compelled by some concept of compassion and decency to talk back. Why should someone who never hurt anyone be held as such a figure of revulsion? It says something very sad about society’s ability to listen, but inability to hear.
As for me, I still can’t hear her music the same way. I doubt I ever will. Here’s something I wrote around this sad date two years ago, when Amy Winehouse finally managed to destroy herself for good. I hope you can forgive any schmaltz or overt and unironic sentimentality and lack of snide snarkery. Unlike many, I actually felt something that day.
In Defense Of Amy Winehouse
When I said the other day that I would do a make up article over the weekend (in a post about The Shangri-Las, appropriately enough) I certainly wouldn’t have wanted it like this.
Amy was one of the greatest talents in music today, she was absolutely brilliant, and that was constantly overshadowed by the attention paid to her tumultuous life. Notice I say “the attention paid.” Had she been allowed to have a private life, it’s doubtful to me that she would’ve found herself in the predicament which killed her. If you had a crazy time in your 20s, imagine how difficult it would’ve been to outgrow them if every bad judgement you made ended up in the paper, where it led to you being ridiculed constantly by thousands of people you never met. Imagine a time in your life where you had to dissociate yourself from people and things that were destructive to you, the way you had to pull yourself apart from toxic relationships. Now imagine you’re also a millionaire, the people around you never go anywhere but by your side, and every time you try to make a new friend, it’s almost certainly because they want to be near a famous person.
People were angry and hateful against Amy. I always wondered why. It says something disturbing about the human condition. In every review, every interview, every time I saw her, she was kind, funny, and endearing. In concert, I watched and just wanted her to get it together the way I knew she could and knock it out of the park. Sometimes she did. Sometimes she didn’t. Now she never will again.
Tears dry on their own…
Have you ever had a broken heart?