July 24, 2011

RIP, Ms. Winehouse

“Holy shit -- Amy Winehouse was found dead.”  That’s what my husband said to me reading his newsfeed on his Blackberry while we stood in line at Starbucks waiting for our mocha frappaccinos Saturday afternoon.  (God, we sound like such yuppies, but what can I say?  That's what we were doing.)  He continued to ramble on – actually making a poignant remark about how Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain died at the same age, and I interrupted him to say, “Just wait a minute.  I need to have a moment.”  Stunned, I stood there waiting for my beverage, while I processed the tragic news. 

I suppose I shouldn’t have been so surprised, or so stunned.  After all, it was no secret that Winehouse was a hardcore addict – both a troubled alcoholic and drug abuser – who had been in and out of rehab numerous times over the past few years.  But still, there is an almost assumed immunity in the young and the extremely talented, that I thought Winehouse would’ve been exempt from the kind of tragic death that might consume an ordinary person overtaken by such an illness.  This may be a wrong assumption, but that’s the kind of musical genius I thought she was, that I think many people thought she was. 

In the past couple days, though, I’ve seen a lot of comments, namely on Facebook, by people saying that her life was a waste, and why should her death be such a shock when she was a one-hit wonder anyway?  I would venture to say that those who were not impacted by her death the way that her fans are had not subjected themselves to the talent that was Amy Winehouse, which I think is sad.  I don't think it's necessarily sad that they were not impacted by her death, mind you.  We're all affected by things differently (personally, I thought the reaction over Michael Jackson's death was a little overdone), but it's sad for someone to not have known her genius, that she was far more than just a "one-hit wonder."   

Her album, Back to Black, released first in 2006  won her six Grammys.  And let’s be honest – it’s a mother f’ing masterpiece.  Her first album, Frank, had less notoriety in the U.S. because it had only been released in the UK, but it is probably equally as good.  (I recommend “You Sent Me Flying/Cherry” and “Take The Box” – two notable standouts on that album.)  Sadly, she had not released an album since Back to Black and before her death, but those two albums – whether you’re an aficionado of R&B or not – will go down in history as cult classics. 

I think some of the animosity toward Amy Winehouse is the manner she supposedly died – over a seizure related to excessive alcohol consumption.  That doesn’t take well to a lot of people.  Coming from someone who is pretty anti-drug herself, I totally get that.  And, in a way, she opened herself to some of that flak as the result of her big radio hit, “Rehab.”  But that’s what made her so appealing – that raw grit that not only described her vocal appeal, but her lyricism as well.  Winehouse was not known for her beauty or for her put-on charm.  In that sense, she was a musician, tried and true.  There was no staged charisma; the essence of her appeal was in her I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude – not in that annoying hipster way – but sadly, more likely as a result of her energies being consumed by her addiction. 

Despite that, even when she appeared visibly intoxicated during concerts she was incapable of escaping her gift, that astounding voice and presence that was unique to only her.  Whether you were a fan or not, it’s a sad day when a musician of her caliber leaves the music community, because she touched a lot of people – both fans and musicians alike -- as well as lent a unique sensibility to the music industry; there was simply no one out there like her.  Drug addiction and alcoholism aside, she was a  powerhouse of a vocalist and songwriter-- a true musician who happened to leave us just a little too early.  Beyond that, I guess I have nothing else to say, other than, RIP, Ms. Winehouse.  You will be missed.


BlackLOG said...

Sadly, even if she had lived longer I don't think she would have added much to her story, destined to be a candle that burnt brightly but briefly….

Sarah said...

You make a good point there.

BlackLOG said...

I was lucky to see her live about 3 years ago when she could still perform....

Interesting that according to her family no drugs were found in her body so I’m guessing alcoholic poisoning.

Sarah said...

You are lucky. I've only seen her performances on TV, which even then were amazing. Yes, that's what I've heard too.