It’s a week since Amy Winhouse died. I’m weary of reading reviews, obituaries and supercilious observations. Undoubtedly, the 27 year old North London girl was troubled – her abuse of alcohol and narcotics is well documented – even photographed. That in itself, should reveal a little about the society we now live in; a society where illegality and self-destruction themselves are newsworthy when associated with celebrity.
There was a time when we were happy to look, listen and be entertained. Now, our appetite for minute, salacious detail has overun our media – and a performer like Amy Winehouse became as famous for her lifestyle, as for her awesome talent. But it’s the awsome talent of Amy Winehouse that makes me smile today. Smile as much as I did seven years ago when I first saw her.
She appeared on BBC 1’s Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. She was 20 – sweet, curvy, funny – and as sharp as a razor. She giggled, smiled and winked with host Jonathan Ross. A good guest for Jonathan – but it was nearly midnight and I had to be up early, so I clicked record and headed for bed – just pausing to hear the first few bars of a track from her debut album ‘Frank’, Love is Blind. Did I say pause? She stopped me in my tracks. Thirty seconds later I was a fan forever.
She wrote her music on the guitar, and played it well – rather than the piano, which she played also and would have a crack at the drums on occasion. But her voice was truly the hook from which there was no escape. And with that glorious voice she captured the hearts of a generation of fans and critics with lyrics that were soulful, sometimes laconic. As Jonathan Ross said in 2004, ‘I’d hate to be an ex of yours’ – the pen is indeed a weapon of power, and never more so than in the hands of an acerbic and talented lyricist. Amy wrote brilliantly about love, revealing a heart that had been hurt and curiously frustrated. To think she was so tender in years when these songs were written is unbelievable – to think she’ll write no more, equally so.