Someone gave me shit the other day, albeit indirectly, about posting an RIP Amy Winehouse message in my Facebook status. His point was that she CHOSE [his caps] to be a crack addict and was getting all this sympathy and attention, pushing those killed in Norway on Friday right out of the news. How, he posited, was the death of this drug-addled celebrity more important, more deserving of comment than the death of eighty other people, victims not of addiction, but true victims of the actions of an extremist nut-job?
And here's why, for me: What kind of fuckery is this?
I hadn't realized how lasting Amy Winehouse's influence on me was until I used the word "fuckery" in a sentence earlier today. Immediately, the line from "Me and Mr Jones" ran through my head, and I realized I'd learned it from her. Or if not learned it from her, then that the word in my mind is inseparable from her. That whenever I use the word, and I use it not infrequently, I hear her sound.
When I first heard Amy Winehouse, a thrill went through me. Here was a combination of amazing tone, gorgeous voice, genius timing, horns, back-up singers, a juxtaposition of lyrics against that background that made me jump around with joy. It was everything I look for in a daily soundtrack. It was tight. It was dirty and sharp. It was perfect. I read about her travails, her status as a train wreck, but the matter of her talent remained for me completely untouched. Undeniable.
This is not to say that it's not tragic that a lunatic set off bombs in Oslo and gunned down kids. That's terrible. It's not an either/or, that having strong feeling for the one, and talking about it, means I don't feel strongly for the other. And yet I have to admit that though it's sad and awful, I didn't know those people in Norway. Not that I have to to feel sad. But really, with Amy Winehouse, because I've been hearing her voice for 3 years, the loss of that potential hits me in a different way. She wasn't just a crack-addled celebrity. She had a spark of utter genius in her, a spark that's now out.
It's not OK with me that she's dead. I don't think it's not sad because she died at her own hands most likely, finally finally reaching the inescapable end-point of years of addiction.
Trolling through video for this post, I couldn't find a version of "Me and Mr Jones" performed live that 2) didn't have fuckery bleeped out, or 2) didn't have Amy stumbling around, so please be content to just listen. Actually, I think she's best that way, her voice coming through loud and clear in all its complexity without the baggage of her style choices or strangely expressionless face.
Gone from the world a truly unique voice, one tiny, tiny person who made a disproportionately gigantic impact. Losing the realization of that great talent, its unfolding, now that really is some kind of fuckery.