Saturday, July 23, 2011

RIP Amy Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011)

Amy Winehouse's "Love is a Losing Game" had just started playing on my iPod, in a mix that I was preparing about my recent departure from Oxford, when I read that she was dead.  Her songs were musically very rich and often quite fun.  She blended many disparate different musical styles into a melange and fired it in the crucible of deep soul.  Plus she had a knack for an amusing turn of phrase.  

There was so much to love about her sound that to focus on her private life is to miss out on the most appealing aspect this artist..Her life was full of controversy; public bouts of drug use, trouble with the law, and other, bizarre behavior.  Plus her tattoo covered, wraith like frame, and bee-hive hairdo left her open to easy ridicule from people who never cared her music.

I hate to think that to some, her death is the subject of ridiclule.  Soon after her death was announced, the net began to fill with unkind comments, celebrating the supposed inevitability of her dying young.  Her public struggle with addiction was known by many. At this time, there is no official report about the cause of her death, but it isn't hard to imagine that drug and alcohol abuse (whether she was currently using  either or not) had a hand in it. Addiction  is a horrible disease, one that affects the mind as well as the body.  It is cunning, cruel and all-consuming.  Trying to derive humor from someone who is afflicted with it is as tasteless as making fun of the terminally ill.

"Love is a Losing Game" is a 21st century decedent of Billie Holiday's "The End of a Love Affair."  Recorded near the end of her career,Holiday's voice is tired sounding,  sometimes gravelly, staying in the lower register.  It is easy to imagine that both artists were singing their own elegies; the romance was gone, the joy had passed, and the glory had faded.  There was little left but to remember what had been lost.

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