Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse - A Brilliant but Troubled Comet

I won't attempt to overstate the terrible loss of Amy Winehouse's death. I also won't lie and say that I didn't see it coming and for that, I'm saddened because that's what happens when you see somebody who inspires awe and pity at the same time.

When we saw her rise in 2007, the first thing I realized was she had demons. She had a gift of a voice but she was as troubled as any singer I had seen. Young, gifted and cracked out. You had to convince me hard we were the same age cause she looked 10 years older. Then when I saw older pictures of her? I wanted to cry at how nice she looked then.

I still remember reading Okayplayer and seeing ?uestlove rave about Amy's music and comparing her album to Lauryn Hill at her best. I didn't really go crazy over "You Know I'm No Good" except for the jazzy sound and raw voice. I didn't think Amy blew me away but it was nice in the same way that Joss Stone was nice to my ears. Just good, genuine soul.

Her music was great but her drug addiction made me feel sorry for her as a person. I'm sick of seeing celebrities and regular folks fall victim to it and hurting others while they hurt themselves. That's what bothered me about Amy - I didn't see the hope. The only time I saw her look decent was at the 2007 Grammys where she performed via video and even that was shaky.

Of course, there's no more ironic song for a breakout hit than "Rehab", the pop hit for the woman with an ironic name. It's a shame because that song will define who she was and her rebellious, live-fast nature. I'm sad for how drugs ruined a young healthy woman and turned her into a tragic star who would never live up to her potential. That song seemed like a kiss-off but if you hear it now, there's nothing but sadness. 

Amy needed help and had few around her to help until it was too late (Props to Kelly Osborne and Amy's dad for trying). She contributed to her demise for sure, as did her poor excuse for a husband. But self-destruction is often the worst cause of death. Even worse when it's played out before our eyes because you see it coming and can't stop the train barreling toward them. I just stopped watching cause it's a broken record you can't support.

She was a sad but brilliant comet. Her last show was a warbled mess that I tried to watch just now but couldn't. Nothing changed besides her boob job and trying to keep up with her band. Even now, I still didn't see hope in her.

She was in too deep and five years after Back to Black, her legacy will no likely be similar to (but not as great as) the other members of the 27 club - Jimi, Janis, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain. I'm not going to hail her as one of the best singers of all time or a legend cause one great album can't do that. But let me tell you what she had.

She had a raw voice that made you feel her emotion. But her sound had a bigger impact. Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi brought that old-school, big-band, jazzy vibe back and it's impacted quite a few British vocalists and others. I loved the sound of her music and hearing it later on Nas' "Fried Chicken" (produced by Ronson) or Christina Aguilera's jazzy 3rd album showed that was the biggest influence of her career.

The biggest tragedy of Amy's death is that we watched the end of a gift self-destruct and we knew it was coming. It's a shame we'll never see her healed but I pray she's finally at peace. I leave with my favorite song of hers. 


  1. Great post as always. I have to disagree on one point.Kurt Cobain was a troubled soul,no doubt.Kurt committed suicide, so in my mind it takes him out of the same category as Jimi,Janice & Jim Morrison,just an observation. Amy didn't stand a chance, being in the music industry & making the kind of money she made, she had more than enough to feed the devil inside. Sad story to have to read.

  2. I can see that point on Kurt, I guess I lumped in tragic deaths for the main reason. And if the autopsy confirms what I heard about her last moments, Amy could be in that same way. I think she was lost as soon as she blew up. It's sad but sadder that we watched it get sadder from the start.