Monday, 23 July 2012

Amy Winehouse: A Tribute

by Gregory Walton-Green

Dedicated fans paying Amy their last respects
On the 23rd July last year, British music lost one of its most enigmatic modern singers. Amy Winehouse was found dead of a drug overdose in her London flat. We all saw the images of devoted fans crowding to the scene, the flowers, the crying masses, and read the stories of her friends, family and the journalists, who all took sides, who had ‘seen it coming’ and felt that ‘she led to her own demise’ or who sympathised with a ‘confused girl’ who had ‘lost her way’.


Amy Winehouse was not a prolific songwriter. Her first album, Frank, was largely ignored, but her second, Back to Black, was widely acclaimed (see videos below). After that, she wrote only a handful more songs. Her drug habit spiralled out of control with the limitless resources of money she now had available. She degraded slowly, changing from a chirpy, friendly girl to a recluse, who hated the media, hated the public, hated her life. She could no longer visit her favourite haunts, like her local Cambden pub, where she used to sing jazz-style music for fun, for she would be recognised and hounded by the press. As her mental condition worsened, her hair seemed to grow ever taller, her tattoos more numerous, her make-up and clothes more outrageous. With Amy no longer on form, demand for Winehouse-like songs increased exponentially, with a host of sound-alikes, none possessing her unique vocal tones. It seemed that almost every new British female artist was being compared to her, leading Adele to exclaim in annoyance: ‘We’re a gender, not a genre!’

When only a child, Amy realised she wanted to sing professionally, and convinced her parents to send her to a performing arts school. She even set up a female vocal duo, ‘Sweet n Sour’ with a classmate. She hated the record company she signed up with, swearing profusely about them and claiming they only cared about making money.

When Amy died, people were of very mixed opinions, many making light of the situation or saying it was less important than the massacre of the children in Norway that took place the day before. Recently, Mike Winehouse, the singer’s father published a book, Amy: My Daughter. Hopefully reading it may help remove some of the callousness of many people towards Amy’s problems and help them realise she was a gifted individual, who impressed millions with her amazing vocal skill, and perhaps it will help heal those who knew her well, now that the immediate shock and pain of her passing has ebbed.

How should we remember Amy?

As an overdosing lost cause? An unfortunate girl? A waste of space? A talented individual? When success finally found Amy, she found she didn’t want it, and tried to take refuge in any way she could. She wanted to live a normal life, but her passion for singing led her astray, led to her losing her way and disappointing her fans as she no longer cared about life. How can we remember Amy? By idolising her? By demeaning her as worthless? By writing articles about her? No. By listening to her music.

"Take the Box" from Frank:

"You Know I'm No Good" from Back to Black:

"Body and Soul" -- duet with Tony Bennett (her last recording):

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments with names are more likely to be published.