Sunday, July 24, 2011

"I Tread a Troubled Track"

-Amy Winehouse (Back To Black)

My last real post "remembering a martyr" was about the passing of Gil Scott Heron and now one month later I find myself taken by the same concept with the death of Amy Winehouse. Martyrdom by definition is "the suffering of death in adherence to a cause". I do realize that it is a bit dramatic to use it in reference to a rock star but somehow it seems to be pretty accurate.

Yesterday I was having a conversation about Ani Difranco who was famous for her angry and painful rants about life. Yet somehow her popularity took a nose dive when she got married, had children and became "happy". I also don't think it is a coincidence that Amy Winehouse's record sales got a boost every time she was in the tabloids for ODing or walking around the city in her underwear while she was high on crack. I wasn't surprised that Jay-Z had the number 1 album after getting arrested for shooting Jay Unrivera at a nightclub. The truth is, we love the drama and we love the suffering. We believe that we celebrate the lives and music of fallen rock stars like Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimmie Hendrix but the truth is, all we really do is glorify their pain, suffering and tragic deaths.

From her first hit single "Rehab" we fell in love with Amy Winehouse for being a total train wreck. I even recall reading in a magazine about how it would be disappointing if Amy Winehouse DID clean up and go to rehab. We loved her for being a 'hot mess'. If she cleaned up, and became "normal" she probably would not of been as popular as she was. She was a martyr, she suffered and died for a cause. This "cause" would be our relentless (media driven) addiction to other people's drama. We saw this tragedy from a mile away and it is almost as if we were counting the days. To some extent I even believe that her blood is on our hands.

Even though her turbulent life 'upstaged' her musical talent Amy Winehouse was a very gifted singer/songwriter with a sound that eerily resembled Billie Holiday. Her voice was seductive and rich. Her music was deep and compelling. Qualities like this are not as common as they need to be, and I do believe that the sounds of her passionate soul has had a very strong and positive impact on today's pop music.


  1. Our connection to each other is far deeper than we may feel comfortable admitting. Some react with vile when confronted with such in-your-face degradation of human life, while others empathize. I suspect both ends of that spectrum are actually one and the same. We see in others what we dislike and fear the most in ourselves. Our flaws are universal, demonstrated uniquely.