Thursday, July 28, 2011

Me and Ms. Winehouse: remembering a true talent

Amy Winehouse/Associated Press

Midnight hits and I turn to Amy Winehouse again.

It’s a perfectly imperfect version of a song inspired by her own busted relationships.

Or perhaps Shakespeare’s “Rome and Juliet.”

I sip my fat glass of red, sit back and savor the emotion with which she imbues each lovesick lyric:

“Over futile odds and laughed at by the gods,” Winehouse sings over a clumsily strummed acoustic guitar. “And now the final frame, love is a losing game.”

Her sophisticated jazz phrasing has always impressed me but it’s the pathos the British soul singer communicates that keeps me coming “Back to Black.”

And her debut album “Frank.”

As well as the sensational live stuff, especially from 2006-07, posted on YouTube.

The way Winehouse’s songs stirred whatever is left of my damaged soul made me dismiss her highly exploited self-destruction.

Unlike most, I refused to admit she might not make it.

So much talent.

She had to beat those demons.

She had to provide more songs to comfort me on these lonely nights.

Yes, my proverbial prayers for her recovery were utterly selfish.

I felt a kinship with Winehouse.

Few people in our age group were wowed by talking to Tony Bennett or worshiped Ronnie Spector.

I thought five years ago that Winehouse might just save pop music.

Teach her young, mainstream audience the rich rewards of the past pop/rock/R&B/soul greats.

Instead, she's dead and style-over-substance acts such as Britney Spears still sell out arenas.

Winehouse's music remains a movement, though, if the collective We continues to perpetuate it.

“Back to Black” has returned to the upper regions of the pop charts.

It’s an album of honesty in a world gone wrong filled with fakery.

It features songs that smartly update the sounds of Stax and Motown with contemporary language about feeling sexy, confident, disrespected and sad all in the same day, sung with heart-wrenching sincerity and rare 21st century vocal chops.

While many Winehouse songs are supreme expressions of beautiful despair, she could also elicit a grin with something like “Me and Mr. Jones.”

"What kind of f--kery are we?" she coolly croons. "Nowadays you don't mean d--k to me."

Amy Winehouse will be missed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing was I was feeling. It was beautiful and a worthy eulogy.