Back to Black — Thoughts on Amy Winehouse

A few months ago, I read an article titled “I Miss Amy Winehouse” on Jezebel. While I couldn’t speak to the Jewish girl guilt angle the author took, I couldn’t agree with the sentiment more.

It seemed like Winehouse was making an effort to turn the ship around. In March, some promotional images were released in which she had some of the mischievous sparkle in her eyes that endeared her to so many. And she told a magazine that she’d seen the error of her ways.

“I’ve finally escaped from hell. Before I came out here I looked at a photo of myself in the paper and was horrified. My skin was a spotty mess and I was so pale and skinny. I thought: ‘Girl, you’ve got to sort yourself out or you’ll be dead soon.'”

Finally, I thought to myself. Finally, she’ll find a healthy channel for her pain. Finally, she’ll patch things up with Mark Ronson and they’ll make another brilliant record. Finally, finally, finally.

Then there was the heartbreaking concert in Belgrade in June. On Saturday afternoon, I checked Twitter and saw the reports that she’d been found dead in her apartment. And the same word entered my mind. Finally. The drugs finally killed her.

It feels selfish to lament the loss of a great talent when her friends and family are mourning the loss of a person they loved. But the reason I loved Winehouse’s music was that it was so deeply personal. Most of my friends prefer the discipline and composure of fellow British soul singer Adele. While I enjoy her work, the whiskey, cigarettes, and heartbreak in Winehouse’s voice and songs spoke more to me than any perfectly executed performance. She had the ability to capture every dark moment in a woman’s life, to put voice to the bad choices, dark periods, and heartbreak we all experience. And by doing so, she made her fans feel like they were not alone.

I imagine the majority of her fans pulled themselves out of their dark place, going on to make better choices and seeing some good in life. But Winehouse never could. It’s a tragic loss for those who knew her and it’s sad for those of us who know her through her songs — which now seem to be too few in number.

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