RIP Amy Winehouse 9/14/83 - 7/23/11
I remember hearing her for the first time on The Late Show with David Letterman. She seemed incredibly awkward and insecure in her own skin, and it immediately grabbed me. Most singers are also performers (who can double as fitness models) and she had mastered the first skill but not the second. Her nervousness during that performance, the fact that she—in all her scrawn and thick makeup—looked like a actual person I might see on the street, and her choice to perform ‘rehab’ made me fall in a small but new and strange kind of love with her. She looked to be simultaneously engulfed in anxiety, and at the same time completely fearless. I was intrigued.
I copped “Back to Black,” and while I had hella reservations about her being a white Jewish girl singing her version of music rooted in the Black church/Jim Crow (and so much more), her music and (at times embarassingly) honest lyrics felt enough to me personally, like emulation as opposed to imitation, thus making me want to continue listening.
I think I appreciated her for the same reason I do Kanye. While both have done and said things that are beyond reckless and offensive, you know there is zero pretense that exists in the expression you’re hearing from them. Their Ids are hollering at the top of their lungs without apology, and in a world so bent on making everybody pretend, I think HELLA people feel refreshed by folks who can at the same time, care so deeply…while having negative fucks to give.
Rest well, Amy.