At this point, I feel like I should probably just dedicate an entire section of my blog to Amy Winehouse. Why? Because this is like the second post in a row about Amy on top of at least 2 or 3 others. But this one feels necessary because I recently went to go see the Amy documentary and I thought I would share a few of my thoughts.
So as I mentioned, I’m a huge Amy Winehouse fan so it makes obvious sense that I would go see the Amy documentary. My grandma invited me to go with her this past Sunday at the last minute and as I am a university student, when someone offers to treat to an activity, I take it. Plus my grandma wanted to go with me because I know so much of her music. After the popcorn & pop was purchased and seats were found, the movie began.
The film started with a 14 year old Amy singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in a home video and MY GOSH. Her voice was magic even then! As the film went on, the narrative remained constant — She was just a girl who wanted to sing but couldn’t keep herself together. Fame was never the focus. It was always really focused on creating music. Yet the pressure and side affects of fame pushed her towards alcohol, drugs and unhealthy relationships.
One of my favourite moments in the movie was when an 18 year old Amy sang her song ‘I Heard Love Is Blind’ for the folks at Island Records. Her voice was so rich, full, and bold. I was rendered speechless. And I talk a lot so that’s saying something. The words to the song flashed across the screen and again I was marked by the lyrical prowess of an 18 year old kid. She was young but wise beyond her years. That wisdom shaped the way she sang, the way she wrote, and the way she chose to create.
I can’t lie. It was hard to watch at certain parts; mainly those parts involved her husband, Blake Fielder. Yes, I completely know and understand that things are edited to make things look and appear a certain way, but there’s no denying that he was not a good influence. It was him that introduced Amy to the harder drugs that were her eventual downfall. When he was gone, she was able to get clean and sober; when he was around she was wasted and buzzed. My heart was not able to take knowing that she was poisoning herself and ruining her body and voice.
It only got worse for me when she started singing ‘Love is A Losing Game’. It is one of my favourite songs of hers and one of my favourite Amy vocals. The clip that they used was a performance that she did at the Mercury Prize Awards in 2007. It was just her and acoustic guitar. As I sat there, I was almost brought a tears. This woman who was so gifted and so talented was overcome by her inner demons. Her self-destructive behaviour caused her young life to be ended so young and so abruptly. The future music that we could have been gifted with is now no longer possible.
As the movie came to a close, there were two things that struck me: how she could have changed & modernized jazz music and how she embodied jazz music. First, before she died she was planning on doing a project with Yasiin Bey & Questlove. The focus would have been on creating this R&B/Jazz fusion style of music. You can’t tell me that project wouldn’t have been amazing! I would like to imagine that it would’ve brought jazz to a younger audience and exposed young people to the excellence of jazz music. Second, in speaking about her, Tony Bennett said that she was one of the best jazz singers he’d ever heard. For someone like him to say that about her is really a tremendous compliment.
As I thought about these two statements, I was struck by how she was able to embody the old while creating something new. As a young person who takes influences from all over the map, I have often wondered how my music would be received. Yet by look at Amy’s music, I think I have a little bit of a glimpse of how that would look. Will I be as legendary as her? I can’t tell you that. I can tell you that I have plans to stay far away from drugs and alcohol. But what I can tell you is that her music has blessed me in many ways. I’ve been able to hear a young person with a young perspective create classic that can be appreciated by people of all generations and cultures. If I’m ever able to do that, then I would be willing to at least begin to think of myself as successful.
Darling Amy, your voice is missed. Thank you for the music you created and for leaving it for this 19 year old kid from Chicago to find and be inspired by.
Until Next Time,
Peace & Harmonies