Monday, July 25, 2011

From Within

I'd been working on this--mentally--for the longest. Turning the idea over and over in my head determining what to do with such a great piece of vintage striped fabric. Finally got it out.


So. I kinda feel the need to talk about the whole Amy Winehouse situation just because. There seems to be an energy that can’t be sufficiently put into words that is affecting those who were fans of her music, and I’m noticing that her passing and all that led up to it--if it was the seeming hopelessness, drug abuse, and alcoholism--is especially deeply touching many of my creative and artistic friends {online and off} who were fans of hers. I haven’t been able to put words to what this at all about, but somehow even though a.) all of us likely realized early on that she was on a path leading towards destruction, b.) we were not necessarily Amy Winehouse fanatics and c.) we did not approve of her behavior or lifestyle, we still greatly appreciated what she offered creatively, musically, and vocally as a songwriter and more importantly as an artist and have some sort of understanding of the emotions and sense of depression that she must have felt just existing. Not to say we feel negative and down and out in general, but it's as though we... or maybe I should just speak for myself...can see it. Even if it--those negative, hopeless feelings-- is something we just get a glimpse of from time to time and have no thoughts of turning to drugs or alcohol for a seeming release. And it's likely that I shouldn't even be saying this is the case just for other artists. Maybe I can attribute this to anyone who has understanding of and passion/feeling for human spirit and emotions.

I don’t know y’all. There’s something I’m trying to say, but it’s a feeling. Therefore words don’t really suffice.

I was introduced to her music by my friend Attallah in Summer 2007 while in Atlanta and since then have held a deep appreciate for her voice and what she does with music. For me Amy fits into a specific category of female musical artists who do things with song and use it in a way that’s comparable to putting paint on a canvas. Others are Jill Scott, Chrisette Michele, Erykah Badu, and India Arie. All of these ladies have great voices, and believe me, I’m a voice person, have been since I can remember, come from a musical family, and have a very deep love of voice and song. But for me, with Amy Winehouse or any of them it’s even greater than that. There’s something about their rendering of what it is they’re singing.

And this is probably a bias, but I really love when I hear or discover that a musical artist mentions or pays tribute to those who came before or who inspired or moved them in some way, and these same artists moved or inspired me as well! {A few instances I can think of off top: Amy Winehouse does it with Donny Hathaway in "Rehab"--although, if indeed she took her own life, this reference makes the situation even sadder; she does it with her tribute to Nas--who I have much respect for--in "Me and Mr. Jones" {and recognizes Slick Rick in that one, too}; and even her putting her own twist to the classic song "Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul, a classic that takes me back to my youth; then there's the "Tears Dry On Their Own" sample of Marvin Gaye and Tammie Terrell tune. etc. etc. etc. }

I love the soulful, sort of 50s smoky lounge tone of amy’s voice, but that’s not all there is in those songs. There’s something even more than the sincere raw emotion. And like I mentioned before, this is a feeling, not something that can be verbalized.

Reading comments on You Tube and what not, I come across a lot of people comparing her to some singer or another. I read people arguing back and forth about her trying to emulate soulful, black singers, etc. Now trust. There have been some singers who I’ve given the side eye (lol!) for some of the crap they try to pull off in songs, but not Amy. She could have been neon green for all I cared. It was about the art. I've also read comments saying how people give so much credit to soulful, white singers when there are so many black soul singers doing the same thing, and sometimes better. And I feel this, too. I could go back to my hometown right now and easily round up several ladies who could out sing Amy Winehouse on their worst day--even as good as she was/is. Sometimes reading comments like this becomes cliché for me, though. Sometimes they are fitting, but I don't get bent out of shape about it. Comments like this become irrelevant when for years you've been embracing, appreciating, and giving credit to the music of the soulful black singers such as those they're talking about.

The drugs and all really do a number on the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional bodies. I'm not sure what her cause of death was, but I'm just saying in general.

Having said all that--or having tried to say something--here’s one of my favorite of the singer’s musical offerings.

Any thoughts?...


1 comment:

Julie said...

I agree! You've managed to string together many of the thoughts that have been swimming around in my head regarding Amy Winehouse and her work for some time now. There are more technically gifted singers out there, but you really can't argue with the emotional truth behind her delivery. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us on this subject.