I don’t normally use this blog for my longer writing exploits. I contribute to the real runway and the muse.tv regularly now, but this is a personal matter. Yesterday someone very special to me died, someone I’ve never met, but held so dearly to my heart and someone whose words I will forever treasure. So I’m going to share a few words on here for her.
Yesterday when I heard the news about Amy Winehouse’s death I cried. I cried bitterly. I know these tears flowed for longer than they would for some of my family members and friends, and the feeling was quite frustrating, alien and raw. I was one of those people laughing at those that cried at Micheal Jackson’s death, clutching copies of thriller and spasming, but I am truly grieving, the lyrics of Amy’s music, her life and death have touched me more than I even knew until yesterday.
When it comes to Amy Winehouse as a person I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have got along. She was a live-wire, hedonist and addict, who by all accounts seems like she was down right difficult in real life. But I didn’t know her in real life. We never had to make a trip anywhere, get something done or carry out any routine social mundanities. All things that are difficult to do with an addict. But Amy was a part of my life through the prism of her words, and ultimately her pain.
Musically her lyrics are burned into my brain, and I made my love for her (as I do for anyone I truly love) very vocal. I remember the musician Jai Paul actually asking me what it is I love about Amy so much, having heard me rant about it evening after evening. I replied “No matter how much I’m hurting, she’s hurting worse.” The ending was sure to be melancholy. As a teenager and young adult I’ve battled with my own frustration about not being able to succeed in a romantic relationship, and I saw the same but worse in Amy. My wrong choices that develop into an obsessive snowball of shit were nothing compared to Blake. I’ve toned it down with that kind of stuff of recent times, but its still there. Back to Black takes me there instantly. It has an undeniable minor key, but not in a weeping on your knees kind of way; its cathartic and cleansing for me. And as my former housemates will testify I played it over and over, its potency never waning, its effect almost ritualistic for me.
Besides musically, as an image maker, Amy fascinates me so much.
Matt Groening, the creator of the Simpsons said that all good characters should be recognised in profile.
Her face was so drawable and her hair, at times so volumous it bordered on grotesque I will never get bored of looking at her. The time I spent in my second year at university making my graphic novel about her was some of the happiest times I’ve had as an illustrator.
I scraped a drawing of her on the wall of my first year halls bedroom using the broken off lead of a pencil. All one line, stick legs with her swirling tattoos and her round hair teetering on her head. The tip did not leave the surface and I could capture her just like that. Truly the stuff of cartoons.
For someone with such fame and success Amy had such a truth to the self that is almost unheard of in popular celebrity nowadays, and perhaps for good reason. There will be many scathing obituaries now about her addiction, bad choices and bad example, but she’s talked about all of these in her music: “Its never safe for us, not even in the evening, Cos’ I’ve been drinking. Not in the morning, where your shits worse”…”I’m gonna, I’m gonna lose my baby. So I always keep a bottle near”. Fuck.
She acted this stuff out on stage for all to see, at times looking like borderline self harm. She scribbled it down her arms. It graduated into a circus with mice on youtube, and with the bloodied ballet pumps on the streets of the city she loved.
She said once in an interview “I love London. The smell of wet concrete.” This is one of those weird things that sticks in your head like a screensaver when your daydreaming. I think about that quote all the time when it rains.
She did not fit into an archetype. Where Gaga is a product of Madonna, Beyonce a product of Tina Turner, Oasis a product of the Beatles and Eminem a product of Elvis, Winehouse was a product of only herself. Her truth is incomparable for me and its with this that it becomes clear she could not have grown old.
Being a straight down the line aetheist I don’t go in for this “shes in a better place” kind of stuff when someone dies. But unlike the death of someone close to you there wont be that physical lack of presence with this. I’ll keep listening to her music, keep reading about her, keep seeing her image, keep loving her. But the girl suffered so much.
I do hope that finally, her tears have dried.