Amy Winehouse, R.I.P.

amywinehouse_shoulder.jpg
British soul singer Amy Winehouse was found dead this morning in her London flat. Even those people who followed pop music on a cursory basis were probably familiar with Winehouse, or at least her troubles; dubbed (almost too easily) "Wino" by the tabloids both in her homeland and around the world, she was a mainstay on the gossip pages for her problems with alcohol and drugs and her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil, not to mention her signature beehive-and-cats-eye look. But her talent was prodigious as both a singer and a songwriter; she wrote or co-wrote all the songs on her stunning 2006 breakthrough Back To Black, an album that she was still working on following up.

When she was on, Winehouse had few peers—she wasn't an octave-jumper like other big divas of the moment, but her contralto had a snap to it that enriched even the simplest syllables with a full spectrum of emotion. Back To Black was filled with aching songs like "Love Is A Losing Game" and "You Know That I'm No Good" that chronicled mutually detrimental relationships and the people who stayed in them, for whatever reasons they had. And that she could speak of such pain with a fair amount of lyrical wit is a testament to her talent, which was nurtured at the BRIT School and which resulted in her debut album Frank coming out when she was only 20 years old.


Amy Winehouse, "You Know I'm No Good"

Many in the online peanut gallery are saying that her death was "inevitable"—that the gamut of her gossip-page-worthy problems, which she nodded to in her top-10 hit "Rehab" as well as in other tracks, was going to result in sadness no matter what. It is hard, as someone who has watched the music news cycle up close for the past few years, to think that she hadn't already had enough tragedy befall her, to wonder if this particular closing chapter wasn't preventable somehow by not rushing her back to the stage when she clearly wasn't ready, as she wasn't a month ago in Serbia and earlier in other far-flung locales where people would point and click and snicker at her woes as they were brought into the public eye, or if the point-and-gawk cycle was just too powerful.


Amy Winehouse, "Love Is A Losing Game"

A piece in the Washington Post, written after her Stateside debut at Joe's Pub and right before Black came out over here, implied that her real-life problems would be a way to help her get her noticed by online outlets that didn't specialize in music, particularly the gossip sites that were ascendant (and definitely outdrawing music-centric sites) back then; the idea that this would be what set her from the pack, and not her talent as a singer and a songwriter, was loathsome then, but it's just tragic now.


Amy Winehouse, "Back To Black" (Live at Joe's Pub, 2007)

Also from that article, written in February 2007:

"I don't give a [expletive]. I know it's good for the record company if I do well here. I don't care.

"If I had my choice, I'd be a roller-skating waitress in the middle of nowhere, singing songs to my husband while I'm cooking grits somewhere. What I'm doing I'm so grateful to be doing—it's so exciting, so fun. But I've never been the kind of girl who knocks on someone's door and says, 'Make me famous.' "

Winehouse was 27.


Amy Winehouse, "Tears Dry On Their Own"

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22 comments
Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet
Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

No one pities the addicts who cracked open someone's head. I survived cancer, but I personally know a lot of addicts, none of which are Amy Winehouse or anyone from the 27 club, who paid for their addictions. Most of the addicts want me to admire them for having kicked their diseases. I don't. I only admire me for having beaten my own disease. The only reason they took up the needle was so they could go to rehab with their faves. As to why some people are addicts seems to stem from the fact that we evolved from other primates, and have only understood the concept of sentience for little more than a century. If there weren't any drugs, amy would still have sung, the rest of the addicts would have been swinging from the trees.

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

Sakara
Sakara

I'm back, to state: Sympathy IS a finate resource----otherwise pity all the addicts who crack open some elderly person's head to get money for their "disease." 

I live in a low income neighborhood where lots of never-employed people are addicts/drunks---and they all want sympathy after they get caught having fun beating somebody up, robbing, etc while on the disease of being high.

Manhattan Style
Manhattan Style

MJ thanks. don't forget alcoholism/addiction is a deadly disease. AW channeled soul but she was dying right before our eyes. 

RIP Amy
RIP Amy

She did herself in but she also opened the door (with help from Lily Allen)  for success for so many female singer-songwriters/musicians. It is hard to imagine Adele or Duffy being given the time of day by the U.S. record industry  if Winehouse did not come first. After all the "British Invasions" by the early 2000's British success here was at it lowest ebb since the early 1960's. The U.S was stuck in the same alt/teenybooper/R&B/rap mode  it had been since 1992. She was a different sound and every move was not choreographed for marketing purposes singing whatever came to mind (and not bogged down by the movement as the US riot girrls of the '90s were). Turns out there were a whole lot of not choreographed talented young women  and not just in Winehouse's neo soul genre. Be it Bat for Lashes or Florence and the Machine or La Roux they were topping the charts. And not just Brits. Lady Gaga, you might have heard of her said that  Winehouse made unconventional women acceptable to market paving her way.  And that's is why as inevitable as her death was it is still sad

Epac
Epac

You have to love the language used here in this article..."she hadn't had enough tragedy befall her". What tragedy??? Was she raised in an abusive household? Was she homeless? Was she starving in a refugee camp? "...rushing her back to the stage when she clearly wasn't ready"...so she was forced to sing live???" This article makes her out to be a prop who had zero control over her life. And we're the peanut gallery???Everything that happened to Ms. Winehouse was of her own doing. Somehow this article is trying to make it sound like she was a "victim" and it's really her greedy mgmt or all of society's fault for licking their lips when reading the tabloid headlines of her stumbling off the stage. Gimme a break. She CHOSE to perform while under the influence, she CHOSE to injest whatever killed her.Of course her death was sad...sad in the sense that she was talented but CHOSE to throw it all away. Is she any different from the "accidental" deaths of Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Brian Jones, Bonham, Bon Scott, a hundred others? Nope. For all her talent, she's now one more cadaver on the pile of cautionary tales.Sorry if I sound unsympathetic...but there's lots of other people who had way less than her yet still managed not to screw things up.

Music Citizens
Music Citizens

I'm really pleased to have read this article first, rather learn this sad news from a caustic reporter who will ostensibly underscore the inevitability of Amy's demise. I'm not sure why fame seems to preclude an individual from deserving the public and media's empathy; your words here are an important reversal of this trend.

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet
Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

Well, if anyone can garner a response as negative as these, only means she had personality. I wrote this because it needed something bitter. Hearts and flowers would have reduced her to the bland landscapes that drive the lesser among us to the bars for no other reason than to give butterscotch a kick.

Grapes Before the SwansdownBy Angela " NeonMosfet" Garcia

Someone grabbed Lady LuckBricked  her up in a wineryfunneling trash down a sou's earLike they could sew the silken purseto keep her soul from fearEasy to spit at a cold corpse

Wickedly stupid metaphorShadow's come wearing blackleft with no room for an encoreTake the stinking bouquet back

Well, she shoulda stuck To her knitting with a pair of rat tail combsPity that. She could be sitting so prettyLike she wanted to rise on the foamSo she could drop the nameOf the God of Pain

Some of the condolenceWere worse than despicableNo one asked you for a danceSinatra might have loved her a littleSo, let the lady rest peaceful

( "Come fly with me come fly with me over the stars: Come fly with me where ever you are...")

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

Sakara to teenage Maura
Sakara to teenage Maura

I'm sorry, I thought this site believed in freedom of speech.  Ok, since you deem  it illegal for anyone like myself to dare say anything negative about Wino, I will take your neo-nazi advice of stop posting. 

Sakara
Sakara

good riddence, you spoiled, rich, brat...one less spoiled celeb who also thought it was cool to be a janis joplin/kurt cobain junkie.

more snot nose celebs should die such junkie deaths.

meanwhile, there are DECENT americans out of work, or have cancer, or having lonely deaths amid poverty.

John Belitsky
John Belitsky

I'm really pleased to have read this article first, rather learn this sad news from a caustic reporter who will ostensibly underscore the inevitability of Amy's demise. I'm not sure why fame seems to preclude an individual from deserving the public and media's empathy; your words here are an important reversal of this trend.

Dave Lucas
Dave Lucas

Who among us didn't see this coming? Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and Janis Joplin welcome one in a league of their own to the fabled "Rock and Roll Heaven"http://dave-lucas.blogspot.com...

JFury
JFury

"...the idea that this would be what set her from the pack, and not her talent as a singer and a songwriter, was loathsome then, but it's just tragic now." Thank you for being consistently on-point, MJ.

Sakara
Sakara

Congratulations on beating your disease.  A long and happy life for you! 

K.C.
K.C.

But is she not a victim now of your judgments? Not because a person has fame and money doesn't make their lives easier than that of anyone else. In fact, it makes them more lonely and resentful of the world especially when there are people with minds like yours. All the people who pretend to love you and disappear once the glory is gone. You don't have them with you all the time and what happens then? No one is talking about refugee camps or homelessness. We are not here to compare struggles. That's silly.The point is that people suffer. Everyone of us no matter our color, class, or age. We suffer. Some people deal better than others. Perhaps her music was a sort of escape from that like most artists do yet it only followed her. Perhaps it was her cry for help in her own way. We have to look at situations like this and use a more psychological view of "person in environment" We must figure out what needs to change in society to prevent these sorts of tragedies as she is not the first and most definitely will not be the last!! Peace and love!

maura
maura

It's not "illegal." I'm just saying, show some respect for people in the same way that you'd hope people would show for you. You can fully realize that times are difficult for lots of people out there and be respectful of someone famous who clearly had problems. Sympathy is not a finite resource.

Guest
Guest

Until you walk in someone else's shoes and really know their pain you really have no right to level such harsh judgments. You sound like a hard, sad, embittered person and should get your own head right. 

Ashibru
Ashibru

No, no...loneliness and death see no color nor class or status of fame...a sad or lonley death can and should be prevented wherever possible.

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet
Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

Thank you ! And I made another birthday, today! I just hope there isn't a "57" club. but then, i may be a 57 Edsel.

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

Epac
Epac

Sorry this reply is late (probably won't get read) - my "judgement" wasn't so much of Ms. Winehouse, but of the article and its very typical "enabling the victim" language. As someone who lived with an alcoholic for quite some time, believe me, I know from whence I speak. In the beginning, everyone tells you "it's a disease", you have to give them support and sympathy, blah blah blah. But after the millionth lecture of how they're not only destroying themselves but everyone around them...you start to realize it's not about "the disease". It's about them making a CHOICE (that word again) to be a selfish asshole and simply do whate they want, damn the consequences. Amy's parents and close friends are certainly all sad...but how many of them will admit to being ANGRY at her for not taking control and doing the right thing for once? What did Courtney Love yell at that rally after Kurt shot himself? "ASSHOLE!!!" How is what Amy did any different?

Sakara
Sakara

Wino was rich and famous---she had no pain.

My own head is right----despite all the dumb stuff I've done, I've never been STUPID enough to take heroin.

If Wino was a nobody crack ho in your neighborhood, you'd be the first person cursing her to move on.

maura
maura

So you knew her, then? Please, this is not the place for moralizing about people you've never met, nor is it the place for engaging in a lousy-life-off with them. Feel free to take that sort of behavior to TMZ or any of the other sewers on the Internet.

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