In Memoriam: Amy Winehouse

The first time I heard Frank, Amy Winehouse’s 2003 debut album, I immediately fell in love. Only 20 years old at the time of its release, she sang about the trials and joys of being a young woman in a modern world with heart and sometimes brutal candor. From deconstructing the politics of sex and love to poking fun at Generation Y’s more unsavoury proclivities, Winehouse understood the intricacies of the human experience and did the only thing she could to process them: sing about it.

By 2006, she began to gain wider recognition with the release of Back to Black. While many artists fall prey to the sophomore slump, Winehouse managed the exact opposite and reappeared on the scene with a new look; the multiple tattoos and beehive hairdo (which would later become her trademark) represented the strong, confident and no-nonsense woman from the Frank era but now with a retro feel. Back to Black displayed this shift perfectly, embodying a Motown-influenced, slickly produced record which built upon Winehouse’s obsession with her own obsessive self-awareness and continued to embrace the all-too-relatable tendencies we all have towards wreckless love and being our own worst enemy.

However, Winehouse didn’t just sing about destructive love, she lived it. By 2007, she tied the knot with on-and-off boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil, who she often described as her soulmate. It was around this time that she developed serious alcohol and drug abuse problems and started to become tabloid fodder not for her voice but for her regular public incidents as a result of said addictions. While many in Winehouse’s personal life attempted to separate the couple for her own good and they did ultimately divorce, her love for Civil is something that many point to as her ultimate undoing.

Winehouse was a self-described hopeless romantic in the most unconventional sense of the phrase. The intensity which led her toward unhealthy habits and relationships is also what lent such heart-wrenching sincerity to her music and made her stand out amongst the homogenized batch of young female popstars out there. She was phenomenally talented as a vocalist and songwriter, an artist whose vision was established early in her life and never wavered. She incited and inspired music fans with her unique brand of genre-hopping and left everyone waiting for what she would do next.

Hearing the news of Amy’s death this afternoon – at only 27 years old – was absolutely devastating. Here was an artist who was my age and seemed to share so much of my own heart and soul and ways of looking at the world, suddenly gone. I, like so many others, had been pulling for her. I would see photos of her looking healthier, getting better and I’d be excited for her to get back on track, to return to singing which was the one thing which always brought her such joy. I was excited for myself and other fans as well for the opportunity to share in more of her experiences in the way that only music allows. And now it’s all been cut short.

So here’s to Amy Winehouse. For all her tragic flaws, she was an unabashedly honest and emotional woman, ruthless and extremely loyal to her own heart, just trying to find her way. Unfortunately, she will never get a chance to find it now but I will never forget just how much she helped me on the journey to finding my own.

Rest in peace, Amy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1318210631 Lara Streeter

    Such a loss.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=872025306 Wini Lo

    thank you for this.
    i’m heartbroken over this loss. i loved her.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000305819239 Ruci Kafka

    Amy Winehouse was brilliant.
    Rest in Peace.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Char.Menny Charmenny Nunes

    RIP!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ana.caceres Ana C├íceres

    Another one for the 27 club
    RIP

  • http://www.facebook.com/yajaira.n.calderon Yajaira Nuribeth Calderon

    So sad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001182434664 Manel Khedim

    RIP Amy Winehouse!

  • http://www.facebook.com/stacey.rushchak Stacey Rushchak

    The music world lost a great one. I’m deeply saddened by the fact that
    there won’t be any more new music from the tragic talent that was Amy Winehouse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Scottyflanagan Scotty Flanagan

    her death isn’t as important as the terrorist attacks on Norway, i’m sorry it’s horrible that she died but she doesn’t deserve this attention people should be focusing on Norway and Oslo

    • http://www.facebook.com/michelle.marron Michelle Ann Marron

      I’m sorry Scotty, while you seem well-intentioned, what is up with this moral posturing? First, we’re mourning Amy Winehouse because we just found out today. ALSO, I did not know that humans were programmed with a finite amount of sympathy and heartache. Last time I checked, we are capable of a limitless capacity for sympathy and compassion. Amy Winehouse has affected so many of us in a personal way through her lyrics and personal story. Why aren’t we allowed to have a strong, immediate reaction to someone we were all rooting for? If you believe that your “tragedy card” is all filled up and you have no room left in your heart for “another dead singer,” then that is a tragedy as well.

    • http://www.facebook.com/hippie.love.peace Sarah ‘Bunny’ Goldfarb

      you seem like you mean well, but this was rather rude. you may grieve for whatever you like, but pain is relative and all pain should be respected.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bridgetcarroll Bridget Carroll

    Beautifully, said, Jenn. RIP Amy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melanierose3 Melanie Boulanger

    awesome tribute. Back to Black is one of my favorites. very sad to hear the news. RIP Amy

  • http://www.facebook.com/shawday Sade Crossan

    UGH :( i just wanted another album like Frank. love amy forever

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrissystyles Chrissy Styles

    I think you’ve spoken for many young women who were so influenced by Amy’s music, including myself.
    Rest in peace Amy

  • http://www.facebook.com/melaniemichele Melanie Meeks

    I am beyond upset about this. RIP, Amy. I will miss you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.nickel Laura Nickel

    Thank you for writing this; I feel you really captured the tragic beauty of her and her music. It is a terrible loss, both to her family and friends and the music world. Rest in peace, Amy, and thank you for sharing your gift of music with us.

  • Marianna

    Jenn is perhaps one of the most eloquent writers when it comes to bringing out the importance of music and songwriters/singers. Frickin’ excellent piece.

    • http://www.facebook.com/MaryJoe28 Maria Jose Rojas

      I agree,this was so articulate and eloquent.I have never read someone describe the death of a beloved singer so beautifully before. I think we will all miss Amy dearly,she was a talented and troubled soul.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tiffany.egnew Tiffany Egnew

    This is such a beautiful piece. I’m sick to see all of the negative press she’ll be remebered by, and not the soulful, talented singer she was. You captured what she really was, in such an elegant way. Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/isagaga92 Isabella Vargas

    to post a comment

  • http://www.facebook.com/modestjune Amber Schmidt

    I woke up this morning and found out and I’m actually surprised how sad I am about it.. She seemed almost invincible to me, like she always got it together just before she was about to crash. When we thought she was out, she’d clean up a little… only now, she’s gone.

    My heart breaks for her family and those closest to her along with those who will never get to hear her voice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1217691107 Rick Cahill

    such a terrible loss. and at the same age as so many other great artists of our times.

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