Este post lo escribió Katie Bird, Queitiber para los amigos
The newspapers were filled last week with news of Amy Winehouse’s life and death and I have weirdly felt the need to get a daily update on the ins and outs of this story in an attempt to answer my questions about her.
I have wondered what exactly did she die of? Who went to her funeral? Why did her addictions overshadow her music so much?
I haven’t come to any great conclusions as her death has been strange in a variety of ways. Firstly, because a lot of people, including me, felt surprised by it. I was surprised because I’ve heard about her problems for so long in the tabloid press and on the news in England and here. We all knew she was a drug addict or had been a drug addict. We had all suspected what might happen. But then last Saturday it finally did.
And the reality of it hits you, the reality that you can only live that kind of lifestyle for so long. That behind all the fun, crazy, mad nights getting pissed and high, there is a body that has to endure it and can’t anymore. So that was strange.
But another strange thing is that her death has led to a rediscovery of her music and her voice which for years had been forgotten about. It seems strange, not right somehow, that she worked to become recognised, for people to know her and her music and then just publicly melted, unable to continue doing what had made her famous in the first place.
And finally, another strange thing is that everyone assumes she’s died of an overdose and yet her father said at her funeral that she’d given up drugs but had a problem with drink that she was trying to sort out and she was in a happy period in her life. This is all at odds with the idea you get of her from the press. She has been painted as a troubled drug addict who lived an unhappy life that ended badly.
So there’s something mysterious and surprising about her death and something mysterious about her.
Scouring the internet, I’ve tried to draw conclusions about her but it’s difficult and maybe that’s the attraction. All those contradictions make her interesting. They make her seem real, complicated and make her seem human unlike all the other pop princesses with their blonde hair and stuck on smiles who always seem endlessly upbeat and unreal.
She was a young girl from London who liked Jazz at a time when not many people her age did. She acted in a rebellious and aggressive way and had lots of attitude but sometimes when interviewed seems awkward and shy. She’s someone who craved attention, fame and success and also seemed to be doing her best to destroy everything she’d worked for.
She liked to act as if she was just a normal girl who wanted to go out and get pissed with her friends. Someone who didn’t listen at school and who hadn’t learnt much. But she wasn’t really that simple and normal. Her musical talent set her apart from everyone else. She understood music and was more articulate than she let people believe. So that’s what I’ve found out since reading article after article about her. She was and wasn’t (yet another contradiction) just the mess I thought she was.
As when someone you know dies and you want to look back on the time spent with that person, I’ve done a similar thing with Amy Winehouse. Thinking back, I had read some of the stories and I had watched her on TV at home. I had had enough interest to buy her first album and I thought it was ok. I’d seen her appearances (bad and good) on television. I knew the songs from her second album and thought her cover of Valerie was good too. I had once seen someone who I thought was her in Camden around 2006 but then again there were lots of girls copying her style at that time so it could have been anyone.
I didn’t really have much interest in her and her music before her death. And with all her dabbling in drugs and drink, I put her in the category of a female Pete Doherty – the category of a potentially interesting musician if she could stop getting off her face and start producing some music. I’ve never been particularly interested in people who seemed more famous for living a rock and roll lifestyle than for actually being good at what they do and just doing it.
I’ve never been interested in clichés and stereotypes so dismissed her as maybe many other people did. Since she’s died, however, I’ve learnt more about her and seen other sides that I didn’t know were there. I’ve also thought since that maybe being a mess, acting like the drunk mess was a way of hiding herself and her vulnerability by pretending she was only interested in having a good time and getting high.
She did herself a disservice really and I realise now that maybe there was more to her than met the eye. She wasn’t just the mess that she and the press led us to believe. I’ve also considered how the constant hounding by the press might have helped speed up her early demise. The press in England is pretty ruthless and recently they’ve proved capable of breaking the law just to get a story and sell more newspapers. I wonder how many people have benefited from Amy’s meltdown and how maybe we all contributed to it.
Our relationship with celebrity is a strange one as we long to hear they’re mere mortals with problems just like us. We build them up and knock them down. In the Rolling Stones’ song “Sympathy for the Devil” Mick Jagger sings:
I shouted out: who killed the kennedys? When after all it was you and me
It’s an interesting comment. Amy’s death raises lots of questions, about her, her life, celebrity, fame and addiction. It also highlighted how good a singer she really was. It’s just a shame she had to die before people like me started realising that really.
Anyway, if you are at all like me and morbidly interested in finding more about Amy Winehouse, here are some links and videos that could be worth watching:
Jools Holland appearances:
Appearance on Mercury Awards: