Our Thoughts On Amy Winehouse

Whether you dug her retro style or not, it was impossible to deny the absolute talent and charisma of one Amy Winehouse when she hit the UK scene in 2003 with her first album, Frank. Her jazz leanings and smokey, soulful voice made her stand out like the proverbial sore thumb on a music scene that was trying way too hard to be cutting edge and modern.

The first time I saw Amy Winehouse sing, I was quite smitten by her. It was so refreshing to see a gal who wasn't just another a bottle-blonde, spray-tanned pixie stick who - GASP! - could actually sing! Sure, she may have been a little chunky (perfectly so), but had a face and a carefree sense of humor about her that radiated cool confidence.

By the time her second album, Back To Black, hit the streets in 2006, I was somewhat taken aback by the change in direction and the brooding darkness and defiance that had crept into songs such as the international smash hit, "Rehab". I was puzzled by this development, to put it mildly.

Then when I saw Amy perform for the first time in a almost three years, what I saw shook me to my core. The Amy Winehouse that seemed to barely be singing at all, so disconnected from the groove and the world around her was a rail-thin, gaunt and ghost-like figure. Gone was the playfulness and confidence that she had exuded so easily just three years prior.

At the 2008 Grammy awards, she was awarded five trophies, but could not even attend because of difficulties obtaining a visa due to her drug use (a video of her smoking crack and admitting to having done ecstasy and other drugs had surfaced, eventually making it to the police, who brought her in for questioning).

Even by then, it was clear that Winehouse had given herself completely to her demons and that there would be no third album. Numerous "comeback" attempts were made - often in places like Belgrad and the Arab Emirates, far from the eyes of the western media, but, sadly, not far enough from the camera phones of disgruntled audience members who filmed a slurring and stammering Winehouse forgetting words to her own songs.

By then, she had become so entrenched as a media sensation for all the wrong reasons. You couldn't help feel that most people who attended one of her recent shows did so hoping to see a meltdown. Her rocky (to say the least) marriage to a fellow junkie was an almost daily soap opera played out in the UK tabloids.

Sadly, it seemed dying was the only news left to make.

I don't know what scum bag introduced her to crack - whether it was that scum bag she married or not - but it seems that within that dirty rush, she found something she'd never had and she let it have its way with her, at the ultimate expense.

While I was never a fan of her music, it always seemed so obvious to me that we were watching the slow-speed car crash of a little girl who just wanted to be loved. It's heartbreaking to imagine that moment when a happy, care-free kid's world runs butt-up against a father's hand or wakes up to find half her family gone and in their place a lifetime of loose ends and unanswered questions to play with your head.

I could say something along the lines of "at least she's at peace now", but the truth is death is not peaceful. It's death. Peace can only be found in life and, sadly, sometimes the psychic damage done to us at our most innocent and vulnerable makes it so that the only thing that gives us momentary peace also charges the highest price.

I think Amy knew the price and paid it willingly.

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