Saturday, July 23, 2011

Back to Black, One Last Time

The untimely death of Amy Winehouse hit me in the chest with the same impact as Michael Jackson's passing. There's a great sense of guilt I feel as a member of the culture at large - a culture that mocks people who are in the mental and physical pits of hell, battling addictions and past (and ongoing) traumas; a culture that revels in the degradation of human beings as long as it's televised for our leisure. I hate lecture-giving, holier than thou people like the next person, but I can't help but feel this way. When Amy released her single "Rehab", we took it as nothing more than lighthearted fun. I can't listen to that particular song ever again without feeling a sense of even the slightest bit of shame. Late night talk shows lambasted Amy - and Michael for that matter - and I, like you, took part in the fun. It makes my stomach churn, in retrospect. The saddest part, of course, is that the game doesn't stop and history will continue to repeat itself. Lindsay Lohan is only two years away from reaching the age of twenty-seven and joining that ominous 27 Club. Will she get her act together or meet the same fate as Amy? Can "The Little Girl Lost" be rescued and become "The Little Girl Found"? They tried to make Amy go to rehab. They didn't do a good enough job. Who really embraced her? Who really cares...?

At the moment I can't stop listening to Amy's Back to Black LP, with the title track in particular playing on repeat. The chorus alone is a prime display of the absolute rawest of human emotions delivered vocally. In my book, "Back to Black" by itself rivals anything in Diana Ross & The Supremes' catalog - just to name one appropriate example - and that alone is testament to Amy Winehouse's artistry and the grand tragedy of her early departure. To quote Robert De Niro in A Bronx Tale, "the saddest thing in life is wasted talent."