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A sad day for fools who get attached to the music we listen to.

I was listening to this song on a loop yesterday at work, in the evening, and when I was getting ready to go out this morning.  It was really eerie when I found out she was gone this afternoon.  Eerie and horribly sad.

Amy Winehouse is the only point where the musical tastes of most of my friends and me really ever overlap.  I adore her voice and phrasing, but it’s her lyrics that really make her special for me.

“Even if I stop wanting you/a perspective pushes through/I’ll be some next man’s other woman soon.  I cannot play myself again/I should just be my own best friend/Not fuck myself in the head with stupid men.”

She starts the verse off with a strikingly conveyed epiphany (“a perspective pushes through” is personification at its best), and finishes it with that common, crude admonition to herself.  That blend of poised enlightenment and visceral crassness is her trademark, and she somehow manages to do it deftly while still sounding genuine.

This successful blending of voices she employs in so many of her songs creates a speaker who sounds like thousands of real people I could walk outside my door right now and encounter on the street, or stay inside and encounter across the mirror.  And you could posit that that’s no great feat, since the only real person Amy Winehouse seems to model her speakers after is Amy Winehouse.  If writing a hit pop song in your own, real voice without losing lyricality is so simple, though, one wonders why so few songwriters are able to do it.

The chorus of the same song whose verse I used above, by the way, is probably one of my ten favorite lyrics of all time:

“He walks away/The sun goes down/He takes the day/But I’m grown/And in this grey/And in this blue shade/My tears dry on their own.”

It’s a soft kick in the chest every time I hear this song.

What’s especially sad for fans is that — even with all of the cancelled concerts and shenanigans, even with her voice deteriorating in the last couple of years –everybody still secretly believed that she would come back sooner or later with something even more evolved and transcendent than Back to Black.  It just seemed inevitable that all of that talent would triumph in the end.

Two albums are more than enough to qualify her as one of my favorite musicians, though.  Most all of her songs feel like major contributions, you know?

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3 responses »

  1. You write about her songs so much better than I ever could. “Blend of poised enlightenment and crassness,” exactly. She moved between genuine fierceness, hilarious wit, self-awareness, and this ‘open wound’ honesty. When I think of the other singers whose voices really seemed to let you in, I think of Janis Joplin, Elliot Smith, Billie Holiday, Cat Power. Curt Cobain, in the MTV unplugged session just before his death especially. These incredibly talented and profoundly vulnerable people.

    I think that it isn’t that the openness itself is damaging. The openness is a symptom of some structural instability. You have to protect yourself from people.

    This isn’t a Beyonce thing.

    According to wikipedia, she was recording another album. It was due out in January 2011. I can’t decide if I hope they release a few of those tracks posthumously or not, you know?

    Reply
  2. I forgot Fiona Apple.

    Reply
  3. Did I ever tell you how much I love your whole lazy fair/ laissez faire thing? Cause I do. Anyway, I really wish I could text you all the time. It sucks because if I had been able to get Blue Sky (AmSam AT&T) I could text the mainland. But since I’m going to paradise I could only get ASTCA (AmSam Verizon) which doesn’t text Blue Sky or mainland. Just other ASTCA phones. Isn’t that weird? Can you imagine if people couldn’t text between networks in the US? Anyway, I miss you. There are so many photo messages I want to send you.

    Reply

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