When I heard the song, “Rehab” for the first time, I thought Amy Winehouse was a smart-mouthed, bad ass bitch, just making fun of pop culture and it’s celebulites, of the Lindsay Lohan-sort.
So, I bought “Back to Black,” unaware that it would be an album that changed my world — not unlike Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” Having just gone through a breakup at the time, her words struck a chord in my heart. Hell, most of the songs still ring true for me today, and I have a feeling they will for awhile.
I don’t understand, Why do I stress A man, When there’s so many bigger things at hand, We could a never had it all, We had to hit a wall, So this is inevitable withdrawal, Even if I stop wanting you, A Perspective pushes true, I’ll be some next man’s other woman soon.
—Amy Winehouse, Tears Dry On Their Own
I was obsessed with the lyrics on the entire album, the jazz sound, not to mention her cool style — the hair, the eyes — and of course, her signature voice. But I wasn’t the only one who loved what I was hearing: the album won a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album (for 2007), it was named UK’s 2nd Bestselling Album of the 21st Century (selling 3.5 copies in the UK alone), and by 2012, it had sold more than 20 million copies around the world.
Shortly after I fell in love with the album, I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of Amy’s cover issue of Rolling Stone. But when I read the story inside, I discovered something I never expected — her substance problems.
I know, I know, call me crazy. But I was naive, and I didn’t really know anything about drugs or terms, and I didn’t know that her songs were referring to actual experience with substance abuse.
“I loved you much, it’s not enough, you love blow, and I love puff…” (Back to Black).
I called my mom in tears — why was such a talented person doing drugs? I was scared she would die before I ever got to see her perform live.
It was a moment I’ll never forget — a loss of innocence from a magazine, happening when I was nearly 22 years old.
I put it in that part of my mind that does myself favors; eventually letting my worries fade. After all, I’ve never let an artist’s personal life deter me from making a decision about their craft. There’s something attractive to me about people who are so, so passionate about what they do, it nearly becomes their demise.
What I love about Ms. Winehouse was her honesty. She sang about her relationships openly, even if they weren’t stereotypically beautiful. Her songs were relatable, and that is priceless.
I continued as a fan, bought her previous album, “Frank,” watched her live performances on YouTube, and turned a cheek when paparazzi took jabs wherever they could, releasing less-than-flattering photos of my favorite cat-eyed chick.
And then, we all know what happened. Her time was cut short. I was in the worst mood when I found out she was gone; I felt silly for being so upset about a celebrity dying, but I was so sad that she was so young, and that we’d never get to hear new material.
But I know my sorrow was selfish.
And as sad as I was, and sometimes still get over our lost legend, I was thrilled when an album was released, “Lioness: Hidden Treasure,” songs by Amy Winehouse that were left unheard, or remixes of songs fans loved — my favorite song on that album is a cover of “Our Day Will Come” (click the picture below to see the video and hear Amy’s version).
Today, Amy Winehouse is remembered by her family, friends, and fans. Donate to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, or buy cool merchandise that supports their efforts to help young talents with substance abuse problems.
Life’s short. Anything could happen, and it usually does, so there is no point in sitting around thinking about all the ifs, ands and buts.
—Amy Winehouse, 1983-2011