Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse is dead. This is not surprising. It is a shame but it is not surprising. As I was cruising headlines one caught my eye; it said something about her dying right before our eyes. That is so true and it has been true so many times before. Rock musicians who make consistent headlines with rehab stints and arrests and outrageous behavior as they travel a quick road to the grave. Jim Morrison did it quite extravagantly in my day. I loved the man; he was a poet first, a rock star second and he hated what the music world did to him, the way it controlled him and limited his creative expression. Imagine what a guy like that could have done without corporate restrictions, the pressure to sell so many records, or record a certain number of albums in a certain amount of time. And that was during the infancy of the music industry. It is horrible now, completely corporatized and stifling.
I am not familiar with Amy Winehouse's music except of course for the obvious. Rehab was cool and made me think of my lovely wife. "Joey - we should get you into rehab, it will do your soul good." I said no, no, no. OK that's not true at all but I could certainly envision it when I heard the song. Carol's problem is she sees alcohol as the problem; I am trying to re-educate her into seeing it as the solution. It's an uphill battle.
I enjoyed the irony of Rehab because Winehouse had to know deep down in the darkness of her soul that she was on a death trip, and that escaping the clutches of drugs and booze could save her.
I didn't pay her much attention. Maybe I should have. I read many articles in Rolling Stone about her, but only casually. I focus on members of my own generation, the people who satisfy my soul, and occasionally on a newcomer who blows my mind. And I really get furious when Justin Bieber shows up on the cover. Makes me want to cancel my subscription to the Resurrection but I can't; been reading the magazine since it came out in 1903; I have a soft spot for it. So I admit I probably miss people who might spark some life in my tired soul. Amy Winehouse might have been on that list.
And what's up with the 27 thing? Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Pigpen, Kristen Pfaff, Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson, Peter Ham, Rudy Lewis, and Robert Johnson, to name a few. A mathematician could probably come up with an equation taking into consideration various combinations of substance abuse relative to physical constitution and accurately predict who will croak at that age.
Another thing that caught my eye was Tony Bennett's high praise for Amy Winehouse. They recorded together in March at Abbey Road. He complimented her glowingly as a singer, calling her "an extraordinary musician with a rare intuition as a vocalist, and a lovely and intelligent person." Those are amazing words coming from a guy much revered in the music industry. And a guy who has demonstrated his open mind time and time again regarding young musicians and singers. Exceptionally rare for a member of that generation.
The flip side to that are the words from Universal Republic Records lamenting her death. "We are deeply saddened at the sudden loss of such a gifted musician, artist and performer." What they meant was " we are deeply saddened at the loss of a reliable revenue stream, and a general pain in the ass."
Another thought. It is a lucky thing that we wee folk do not have the money and time on our hands that well paid entertainers do. Or we would be dropping like flies. I work in a Booze Emporium and a liquor store; trust me I know. Friday night, baby - it is one wild rush to oblivion. In the Booze Emporium everybody struts up to the counter clutching their bottle of happiness; when you ask how they are doing, they point to the bottle and say "better now." And of course Friday night in the bar is an orgy of alcohol fueled release. We all drink excessively, and some mix it up with various drugs and other creative pursuits. It's called survival, baby. The only thing that keeps us on track is the fact that we have to work for a meager living so we can pay the mortgage vampire. And buy more booze. So I am always amused when a celebrity OD's, and people shake their heads and wonder how that could have happened.
No one is surprised that Amy Winehouse is dead. She died right in front of our eyes. But it is sad to see a talent snuffed out so publicly and well before she had a chance to establish a solid career, a deep body of work. And who knows what it was really all about. The intelligent approach is to let it lie and not judge too harshly, or not judge at all.
There but for the grace of god..........................

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