Amy Joins The 27 Club

Although a lot of people could see it coming, the death of Amy Winehouse was still a heck of a shock to many not wanting to believe that her addictions were so bad that they would ultimately kill her.  She was another one of those bright stars who burned herself out at a shocking rate, adding herself to the infamous 27 Club along with the likes of Kurt Cobain, Jim Hendrix and Janis Joplin, among others.

Amy Winehouse at Eurockéennes de Belfort (Fest...
Image via Wikipedia

These were obviously talented people, musical trend-setters who’s influence in the musical world was undeniable.  Some might argue that they had yet to even show us their best work, and maybe that’s true.  Having experienced relationships with musicians all my life, I can certainly attest to one thing:  a lot of the really talented ones have a side to their personality that has a desire to go right to the edge.  You might consider them “musical thrill seekers”.  And thrill seekers tend to be that way in more than one area of their lives.  Their boundaries are almost non-existent, and that’s what makes them susceptible to addictions to hard drugs and other extreme behaviour.

In Amy’s case, she turned her experience into the hit “Rehab“, a song about refusing to follow the advice of others to clean herself up:

CHORUS:

They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, “No, no, no”
Yes, I’ve been black but when I come back you’ll know, know, know
I ain’t got the time and if my daddy thinks I’m fine
He’s tried to make me go to rehab, I won’t go, go, go

I’d rather be at home with Ray
I ain’t got seventeen days
‘Cause there’s nothing, there’s nothing you can teach me
That I can’t learn from Mr. Hathaway

I didn’t get a lot in class
But I know we don’t come in a shot glass

[repeat CHORUS]

The man said, “Why do you think you here?”
I said, “I got no idea”
I’m gonna, I’m gonna lose my baby
So I always keep a bottle near

He said, “I just think you’re depressed
Kiss me, yeah baby and go rest”

They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, “No, no, no”
Yes, I’ve been black but when I come back you’ll know, know, know

I don’t ever wanna drink again
I just, ooh, I just need a friend
I’m not gonna spend ten weeks
Have everyone think I’m on the mend

And it’s not just my pride
It’s just ’til these tears have dried

[repeat CHORUS]

In a 1997 interview with The Daily Mail in the UK, she was asked how she writes songs.  She replied “With ‘Rehab’ I was walking down the street with Mark Ronson, who produced my last album. I just sang the hook out loud. It was quite silly really.” She was then asked, “Did you sing the ‘no no no’ bit as well?'” “Yeah, I sang the whole line exactly as it turned out on the record! Mark laughed and asked me who wrote it because he liked it. I told him that I’d just made it up but that it was true and he encouraged me to turn it into a song, which took me 5 minutes. It wasn’t hard. It was about what my old management company (run by former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller) wanted me to do.”

As they say in songwriting circles, write what you know.

The lyrics themselves are not remarkable, but the music, the production and Amy’s delivery on the song are spectacular.  And let’s face it folks, a lot of pop music (although Rehab might be considered more R&B or soul than pop) is more dependant on the production and the artist’s or band’s personality than lyrics.  It has always been this way.

Aside from her own songs, Amy was an excellent interpreter of older R&B and soul songs like “Cupid” and “Valerie”.  A great talent gone far too soon.

IJ

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One thoughtful comment

  1. I found this very sad, I was just up the road when it happened, Amy lived in Camden town and we were in London for two weeks staying at Belsize park which is the next suburb but one.

    I think the people surrounding the likes of Amy, Elvis, Michael Jackson etc. have a lot to answer for. No one seems to have the courage to stand up and say enough allready. Unlike say Pete Shotten, John Lennon’s lifetime friend who told him he was out of control and to pull his head in, which he dutifully did. This caused a rift between Pete and John but it most probably extended Johns life.

    I am not sure how good Amy actually was, or if she was actually going to do something great, and we will never know because she didn’t get the chance.

    I note the toxicology report said there were no drugs in her system when she died. I guess she had just trashed her body to an extent it just failed. Which makes it even sadder.

    GY

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