Amy Winehouse: We Only Said Goodbye With Words

Shortly after hearing the sad news about Amy Winehouse’s death yesterday, I remembered a profile I wrote about her, a shorter version of which was published for a feature on “Musical Enigmas” in Cub magazine in January 2011. Here is the full, revised version.

When she’s not punching her fans or spitting on them, in rehab or too busy refusing to go, Amy Winehouse is as wise as they come. The twenty-seven-year-old jazz-soul singer crafts insults like quick-fire. Of all her witticisms, ‘like the news, everyday you get pressed’ (“Fuck Me Pumps”) is perhaps her most remarkable effort yet. Winehouse’s music isn’t just for laughs, though. Her music has real depth to it. Listening carefully to her two albums, Frank (2003) and Back to Black (2006), one gets the impression that “Love is a Losing Game” for Winehouse as each track depicts a tragicomic romance-gone-wrong scenario. To name but a few, her delightful beau keeps his dick wet with a safe bet after a break up, makes her miss Slick Rick gigs – what kind of fuckery is that? – and steals her weed…

Leaving aside Winehouse’s private life – the details of which the media continue to regurgitate recklessly on its gossip pages time again – the singer gives surprisingly sound psychological advice. Ironically, Winehouse is a firm believer in the “Help Yourself” mantra while her music doles out profound lessons in love. Winehouse encourages women to man up their men in “Stronger Than Me” as she asks her ‘lady boy’, in need of regular comforting and ego massaging, if he’s gay. She also advises ditching the break-up box in “Take The Box”, and goes so far as to get rid of gifts (‘the Moschino bra you bought me last Christmas… put it in the box, put it in the box’).

Winehouse’s songs are themselves embittered love letters, poured steadily from her heart like liquor from a bottle. There’s something despairingly beautiful about Winehouse’s music, pitched with just the right amount of “lady sings the blues” – just before it gets self-indulgent – and inflected with the woes of failed relationships and her ongoing struggle with addiction. There is a sense, though, that she has learnt from the hardships love has served her to be “Stronger” until her “Tears Dry On Their Own”. At this point, though, she falls back in love all over again, as she sings to herself, “Amy, Amy, Amy, I know I’ve been here before”.

On 23 July 2011, Amy Winehouse was found dead in her North London home. She will be remembered, among many other things, for her iconic and unique voice, her music, and for the many facets of her enigmatic and interesting personality.

One Response to “Amy Winehouse: We Only Said Goodbye With Words”
  1. I couldn’t agree more, she was a great lyricist who bared her troubled soul in her songs. Such a tragic and disappointing end – so much talent, wasted! x

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