Sunday, 27 July 2014

Remembering Amy Winehouse

This week sadly marks three whole years since Amy Winehouse died (where on Earth did they go?!), and I couldn't let it go by without paying my own little tribute to her.

Those who know me can vouch for the fact that my music tastes can often seem a tad outdated (much to the amusement of visitors to my uni house, our radio was often set to Smooth radio - oh those soul tunez). So coming across a singer who inhabited 21st century London but who also happened to channel the very best of 60s Detroit was one of the happiest discoveries of my teenage years.

Clearly, I wasn't the only one to fall under Amy's spell. The unique blend of soul, jazz, R&B and hip hop in her music, coupled with the zing of her personality, earned her a place as the nation's very own bitter sweetheart.

I remember once reading that Love is a Losing Game had been presented to a group of Cambridge English students in their unseen poetry exam for analysis. Being somewhere that you'd generally expect to find the words of a long dead Victorian guy, the appearance in its place of those of a young, beehived girl from Camden gives a good indication of just how special she was.

But really, one of Amy's biggest talents, aside from that incredible voice of hers, was her ability to perfectly capture the depth of something as cavernous and tenuous as heartbreak in the space of just three or four minutes - an ability that meant you didn't have to be a clever clogs English student to figure out what she meant in her songs; she just made you feel it.

Yep, above all else, in her music, it's her humanity that shines through. One of my favourite Winehouse moments (apart from this hilarious appearance on an American show, where an accent has never seemed so incongruous), is an interview I once watched where she spoke of her influences. One of them was the Shangri-Las:

"I love the drama, I love the atmosphere, I love the sound effects. And they wrote the most depressing song ever: I Can Never Go Home Anymore. When me and my boyfriend finished, I used to listen to that song on repeat, just sitting on my kitchen floor with a bottle of Jack Daniel's. I'd pass out, wake up and do it again. My flatmate used to come in, leave bags of KFC and just leave. She'd be like: there's your dinner, I'm going out. It's the saddest song in the world." 

This is not your typical celebrity anecdote. It would obviously be wrong to romanticise too heavily the life of someone who was clearly very troubled at times, but considering the rose tinted, Instagram filtered view of popstars' lives that we're more often than not presented with, Amy was (and still remains) a complete breath of fresh air.

I'll let her sing me out with one of my favourites...