In an age where copyrighted music, movies, and other media can be downloaded with great ease and little consequence, few artist come along who make you want to spend your hard earned money on what they produce. A great many people brave peer-to-peer sites, downloading bit torrent files, hoping that they’re not caught and made an example of by the government. But fatefully Amy Winehouse walked into my life in 2006 while I was at my aunt’s house for a family gathering.
I’m sure many people who listened to Amy Winehouse’s music probably listen to Lauryn Hill. Right, the incredible singer/rapper/songwriter who walked away from the music industry after releasing the “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”, winning five grammy awards, and having been offered various big screen movie roles. So when my aunt said, “this is the album Lauryn Hill was supposed to make after Miseducation,” of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” album, I was immediately interested. And when I listened, I was impressed with what I heard, my favorites being “Rehab”, “Me & Mr. Jones”, “You Know I’m No Good”, and the title track “Back to Black”.
Being impressed and satisfied with “Back to Black,” I like any starving fan craved more of my new found gem. And when I learned that the first album I heard, was actually the second album she released, I went out and bought “Frank” and put it on my iPod. It was hard to believe, but I liked the “Frank” album better than “Back to Black.” I’ve been listening to those albums since I heard them, waiting and wondering when she’d drop another one. Amy gave me the same feeling that Lauryn Hill gave me back in 1998. Amy gave me goosebumps with her voice. She made me sway to the instruments behind the voice. Above all, what she talked about I could relate to, so it was real to me.
When I found out that she died yesterday, I had the same grim feeling that I had when Aaliyah died in 2001. I felt like something that was so young, talented, and full of potential was ripped away from me. Amy was born in 83 just like I was. She was supposed to live another 40, 50, or 60 years. And regardless of how long I had to wait, I knew she’d eventually make another album. Sure I knew she used drugs, and drank alcohol and had her problems. Everyone does. But her problems were part of the reason why I loved her. I never judged her for being human and fragile like the rest of us. It was her fragile humanity that made her who she was and allowed her to make the kind of music that she did. If Amy Winehouse’s life wasn’t the way it was, her albums wouldn’t have been what they were. They would have likely been dull or similar to a lot of what we hear on the radio and don’t buy.
So while people want to focus on the money and fame she had and didn’t want. I’ll focus on the music she made that made her special. Money can’t buy love or happiness, no matter how much you make. Money only allows you the ease to do things that might help to make you happy. Fame is an even greater monster than money because it forces so many people to be something their not. Amy like Lauryn Hill was just a musician doing what she loved. She didn’t want the fame, just the music. It is likely that her many problems became bigger problems because of the spotlight and attention. Therefore when I remember her it’ll be with “October Song” and “Stronger Than Me.” I wont make putrid comments about her drug abuse and addiction. I’ll just say that Amy, “You Sent Me Flying,” while you asked me “What Is It About Men.”