Like so many fans who’ve heard the news of Amy Winehouse’s death today, I’m both sad and angry.
Sad because she really was so phenomenally talented, and Winehouse’s untimely passing deprives the world of her unique gift. (She joins Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and others in the macabre club of rock stars who died at 27.)
And I’m angry because no one, particularly Winehouse herself, could save her from the demons that so publicly haunted her. Just three days ago, she appeared on stage alongside her goddaughter Dionne Bromfield, who was performing at the iTunes Festival in London. She looked better but didn’t seem entirely present. The insidious stranglehold of addiction on display.
Winehouse’s album Back To Black, was a big reason I started Popservations. After talking about starting a music blog for years, and having the retro-steeped set on repeat since its release, when I finally pulled the trigger in January 2008 one of my first posts was in praise of the brilliant Back To Black.
By then, Winehouse was already in full hot-mess mode, but I was pulling for her. Beyond ecstatic when she won five Grammys, and properly defensive when Natalie Cole — no stranger to the destructive pull of addiction — said Winehouse was being rewarded for bad behavior. Things continued to see-saw for the singer in years since, but I really believed she’d end up on top.
I don’t know what else to say. Today someone tweeted that all you needed to do was listen to Back To Black to know the great pain Winehouse was in. Of course, a lot of brilliant art has been borne from baring one’s soul without this deeply tragic end as part of the story.
Watching her funereal video for “Back To Black” is an especially haunting experience now. Seeing the end title card — absent from the VEVO version — gave me chills: “R.I.P. The Heart of Amy Winehouse.” And her soul, too.