Amy Winehouse – “Me & Mr Jones”
I know I’m late with this blog but I’ve been meaning to write it for some time.
Amy Winehouse died this past Saturday and I, for one, could not be any more heartbroken. Amy was one of the most talented young musicians out there, creating an atmospheric soul sound that was just as much old school as it was new. Winehouse’s perspective on relationships were often witty, and creative [see: blog title], things that have been severely missing in soul music for some time. Amy was a movement–one that could only be stopped by Amy herself, and inadvertently was [for the record, none of the “new Amy’s,” could sustain Amy’s ability, though I did enjoy Adele and Duffy’s debut records.] Despite all of this, Winehouse will probably be one of the most unappreciated deaths in history.
The first thing people will complain about is the “27 Club,” an exclusive club of some of the most renowned musicians of our time dying at the tender age of 27. The group includes the likes of Janis Joplin, John Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Brian Jones. Old music is often endeared and fathomed over–enthusiasts and morons alike can’t get over the “old music is better than new music,” argument, even when they know very little about music. It just sounds like the right thing to say. It sounds cool. It’s like the people who say Kanye West is a great producer but average rapper. Or that the South killed hip hop. Or the people that say all Mexicans are dirty. Or that the man considered Jesus Christ by Christians was white. They let the media influence their decisions and opinions without making one of their own or using any kind of actual knowledge and research to support their claims and it makes me absolutely fucking sick to my stomach.
I’m not saying new music is better than old music, or vice versa. In fact, in the last 50 years or so, I’d say the 90s had the best music I’ve ever listened to.
That being said, Amy’s death has been put hand-in-hand with the 27 Club. Some say she belongs, others say she doesn’t, some say she planned her death to die at 27 *eyeroll* Many people are even disgusted with her for dying at the age of 27 because her critical success will have her in this club no matter what. You know what I say? Get a new hobby and stop worrying about when she died, or if she belongs in some exclusive club. Does it really matter if she “belongs” in the 27 club? Is that reason enough to detract her death any more than the people already a part of this club? A death is a death–it should hold the same weight, no matter who the person.
Another issue about Amy’s death is a simple lack of empathy for her. With causes currently listed as unknown, popular consensus is that she overdosed on drugs. Many will have you believe that she deserved to die because her biggest American single was a song about her telling her management team that she isn’t going to rehab, despite her addiction to drugs. That she deserved to die because she did it to herself–that no one put a gun to her head every day and said drink this, blow these pills, or shoot this needle in your arm.
Fair points. No one put a gun to her head and made her do drugs. No one told her to get a physical or mental addiction to whatever she was taking. And yes, she probably did O.D. on drugs. But you know what? Despite all of this, when someone like Amy dies, it’s as much her family and friends’ fault as it is hers. She may be snorting the pills, and drinking the alcohol, but her family/friends may as well be buying the shit, crushing the pills, and heating the heroin. Amy, like most drug addicts, was WELL AWARE of her own addiction. If she wasn’t, she wouldn’t have actually gone to rehab multiple times. Did she take it as seriously as she should have? No. Just this year she went to rehab and decided to buy a bottle on the way over. I’d argue, however, that Amy is a victim of untimely circumstances. Let me explain.
Let’s back up for a second, and look back eight years ago. Amy’s first album came out in 2003 when she was just 19. We all have heard about addiction and drugs in young child actors and musicians, many of which simply can’t handle the fame at such a young age [or are, inexplicably stripped of their childhood due to their parents incessant need for fame.] Now, Winehouse was 19, and yes considered an adult by the world, but probably not much of an adult in reality (do you remember when you were 19? I do. I was incredibly naive–I couldn’t imagine being famous at 19.) This fame easily could have triggered drug use–I, and plenty of other people I know were well hooked on drugs by that age [weed, heroin, perks, ecstasy–you name it, I’ve seen someone hooked.] By 23, she reached worldwide fame for a song about her refusal to go to rehab–clearly use of whatever she was on was escalating or very much in existence.
It’s not farfetched to say that this, coupled with a divorced family and some ridiculous upbringing could have triggered her drug use. This is not uncommon, and bares no resemblance to people who think her drug use was unwarranted or stupid. In fact, I think it makes her drug use more acceptable. Was it the right move? Probably not. But the empathy in me has enough of a heart to put myself in her shoes and see where she’s coming from, and what she’s living with, something everyone seems to want to do, but can’t because they find any addiction to illicit drug use stupid.
[Note: In the following I’m basing my own interpretation of Amy’s thoughts from past experiences including myself, and my friends.]
Now, Amy’s addicted to drugs, and isn’t seeking help. Common knowledge says get her into rehab as soon as possible…but this is, and always will be an awful idea. I guarantee you Amy knew her drug use was out of hand. She probably had dozens of people calling her a fuck up, telling her that she needed to get into rehab, and suggesting to her that her drug use was out of control. Her father even publicly said to stop supporting her so that she’ll check into rehab! It got to the point where hotels she was in weren’t allowed to hold liquor. It got to the point where she was contracted to stay on stage for a certain amount of time to recieve paychecks for shows because no one expected her to stay on for allotted periods of time. Addicts are self-aware, and terribly paranoid. When everyone’s bringing it to her attention, she knows its out of control. It’s up to her whether she wants to fix herself or not. But she won’t feel the need to fix herself until she knows that no matter what she has some form of support system. Here’s where her family and friends needed to fucking intervene!
Drugs are an escape. They’re an escape for the homeless, they’re an escape for the famous. They provide a level of pleasure because they not only trigger acids in the brain that make one happy, but they also allow one to forget about the daily hells of life for a brief moment [and all of the devilish people that inhabit it.] Often times, detractors and critics of an addict will receive the cold shoulder. Even if they’re “trying to help,” they’re often alienating themselves from the addict because they’re ineffectively showing no empathy towards the fragile soul of the addict. “Concern,” sounds fake, critics are dismissed and an addict doesn’t want to go to fucking rehab; an addict believes that if the people around them loved them enough and were judgment free in the process then the addict wouldn’t need rehab, and could quit on their own for their love of themselves and the people that love them! Fact: The people that love and care about you should love and care about you more than the random strangers in fucking rehab! There’s a 40-60 percent chance that a drug addict will relapse. Guess why? Shitty drug wars that put an emphasis on keeping drugs off the streets rather than rehabilitating the millions that will INEVITABLY become addicted! Know what that means? That some of these rehab clinics probably suck dick! In countries with de-criminalization or legalization of drugs, relapse rates have IMPROVED dramatically!
This is my point! For all Amy did to herself–for every pill she snorted, every needle in her veins, and every sip of fucking alcohol through her throat, there was a human being in there that needed what we all need–a little genuine love, affection, and maybe even companionship. And these are things she wasn’t getting…she probably drank every time rehab was brought up. She drank after every boyfriend or husband dumped her. She probably drank for every popparazi photo, and “fan,” that she had lost because they couldn’t alienate her personal problems from her music. Even if she was feeling love/warmth/affection, none of it felt genuine to Amy. If it did, she’d still be here. If rumors are true, and her quitting alcohol by going cold turkey is the cause of death, it still holds true. Maybe, just maybe she never indulges in drugs in the first place if this is the case. We can only hope.
Some songs that truly explain what it’s like to be fucked up on drugs/depressed/both.
Elliott Smith – “St Ide’s Heaven,”
Elliott Smith – “Christian Brothers”
Radiohead – “Let Down
A Perfect Circle – “Blue”