I don’t really know how to begin this post. I am not a long suffering victim of an alcoholic parent, an accquaintance of someone that likes to dabble a ‘bit too much’, nor have I ever really experienced an all consuming addiction like the one so publicly suffered by Amy Jade Winehouse.
I write this post 3 days after the death of one of the most ridiculed, but also one of the most passionately talented musicians that has ever come out of the London music scene. Winehouse had a voice that would knock your socks off if you weren’t expecting to hear it, and send shivers up your spine if you were. Of all the musicians I love, I feel her voice had the most ‘feeling’. Just listen to her rendtion of ‘Love is a Losing Game’ and you’ll know what I am talking about. She also had a look that inspired many a fancy dress outfit (one of mine included), especially as her decline became all the more apparant.
Amy had a very public battle with drink and drugs throughout her career, something that her music was overshadowed by more often than not. Everyone had seen the pictures of her stumbling aimlessly around the streets of Camden, covered in scratches, shoes bloody, make up smeared. She had a Britney Spears style melt down, but for some reason Amy’s wasn’t something I found particularly funny. I know no one (in the public eye or not) should be ridiculed for having such high profile problems, but I defy anyone to not have at LEAST a quizzical smirk on their face when they look at the pictures of egg like Britney Spears beating the shit out of the papparazi with an umbrella. For me, when I saw these pictures of Amy, it broke my heart a little bit. She looked a state, but she was walking round the roads she knows so well calling for Blake. Blake, the guy who introduced her to drugs, who put her at the top of the mountain, pushed her off and then jumped after her. Even to people that didn’t know either of them, you could just SEE that they thought they’d survive if they could just hold each other up. As much as Blake could be blamed for the death of Winehouse, there is no doubt in anyones mind just how much they adored each other. Unfortunately it was a Sid and Nancy type of relationship, and everyone could see that it would never end well.
Since Amy’s demise there have been lots of stories in the press, but the one that caught my attention today was the story about her paying £130,000 to put one of her best friends through Rehab to attempt to cure him of his all-consuming herion and crack cocaine addiction. An addiction that in part she created due to their closeness and the fact they shared a flat, a life and an afflication for people and situations that would be of no good to them at all. Even though more than anyone she needed help, she was still more concerned with offering it to other people.
Even after all this, some of her best work came out of the situation with Blake. I will never understand how she came to compose the lyrics to one of my favourite Winehouse songs, ‘You Know I’m No Good’. Before Blake Amy was a healthy, slightly portly Jewish girl with a mouth like a sewer and a voice like a foghorn. During the Blake years she was transformed into an unkempt, paranoid, fragile shell of a woman who could just not pull it together enough for anything without the help of a dirty needle and a pipe. Even after all of this, she still wanted to tell the world SHE wasn’t any good, SHE was trouble. The only trouble Amy created was the desperate heartache and longing for a solution to her many, many problems and this mostly affected her family.
Amy’s talent was a waste. With acts in the charts such as Jedward, when you hear a voice like Amy’s and know it was wasted inside a shell of a human who couldn’t stand up straight on stage without a bottle of Jack in her hand, it could almost make you weep. She divorced Blake and found love with the beautiful, grounded, hardworking Reg Traviss. Everyone thought after her month long stays in St Lucia that he was the one that could save her, and I am sure more than anything Reg wishes this had been the case too.
I don’t mean this to read like a fact file for Amy’s life, obviously as just a fan of her work I knew nothing about the real Amy. I remember my sister telling me YEARS ago, probably around the same time Frank was released, that she went for a night out in Shoreditch. My sister was leaning through the window of a taxi to pay when she felt someone bound up to her and wrap her arms around her waist, screaming that she ‘LOVED her dress’. My sister turned around to see Amy standing there and instantly recognising who she was, became immediately star struck and told her that she loved her album. After this brief meeting and conversation, my sister always said that she was the most down to earth girl you could meet. I understand that this was before the huge amount of fame Back to Black bought her, but I still like to think that somewhere inside Amy’s childlike, drug riddled body, that slightly meaty Jewish girl with the common as muck accent was still in there; I like to think that through all of this, she was still the same Amy that her parents always desperately loved.
Again, I didn’t know Winehouse more then any other regular fan of her music. I know people say this situation was only a matter of time and she was too far gone to be saved. That might be the case, but it doesn’t make it any less tragic. Her voice was one in a million, and she had the pure ability to write music so truthful and poignant about herself that it almost made you wince listening to her sing it, sing about the troubles she faced in life and more often than not, the overwhelming love she had for Blake.
I remember when I found out Amy had died. The first people I contacted were my sister and my best friend. Within minutes, my sister's facebook status summed up exactly how I, and most of the people I knew, felt out her death. It simply said, "Oh Amy :("
Everyone makes mistakes in life. Some are ridiculous like leaving a window open at your house when you go to work. Some are more serious, like falling in with the wrong crowd and enrolling yourself on a downward spiral of drink and drug addiction that will ultimately kill you. Now isn’t the time to judge and pass comments on the life someone else has chosen to live, or chosen to end. All we can do now is listen to Amy’s music and feel her pain and adoration vibrate through every note she sings, and remember her for what she was best. One of the greatest singers of our time.
So, at 2.59pm on Tuesday 26th July 2011, JUST as Amy Jade Winehouse’s funeral is about to start, I only have one thing to say;
R.I.P Winehouse, I hope in death you find the peace you so longed for in life. You were nothing short of brilliant.