Friday, October 19, 2018

The Amy Winehouse Catastrophe

by Jessamyn Cuneo (writer), Los Angeles, December 24, 2007


Behind the beehive...perhaps.

It appears that with Amy Winehouse’s destiny comes a tremendous burden. Many, many musicians have battled her battle before her; the battle of how to handle an incredible gift with a deeply depressed mind. Many have lost, and some have won. The last year has proven to be a tumultuous one for Winehouse, and we’ve all left wondering which side she’ll end up on.

The success of her second album, Back to Black, seems to have coincided with the young diva’s plans to lose herself to her horrific relationships with both the jerk-off in the fedora (but I’m sure he’s charismatic as hell...) as well as intoxicating substances. The record apparently wasn’t created to win her worldwide fame as much as it was intended to win back the guy she feels she was meant to be with.

Both of the two cover interviews in Spin and Rolling Stone this year depict a love-crazed and rebellious Winehouse who scarcely pulls her lips off of her husband long enough to tell reporters that the whole LP was written during their seperation. She seems to hold Blake Fielder-Civil responsible for every watt of her spotlight. There’s no apparent personal pride in Winehouse, just the need for complete self-destruction in her total devotion to Fielder-Civil.

And so, we read interviews that shamelessly depict her to be uncooperative and ungrateful for all the media and public attention. I turned the last page of both the major feature stories aforementioned and still knew next to nothing about this woman with an uncanny ability to sing. It was frustrating that the rare opportunity to present such a walking legend to the public had been given to two journalists who failed to show a less obvious side of Winehouse. After spending time with her, they were unable to shed much light on the mystifying tornado inside the head piled high with unruly dark hair.

The reason I’m writing all of this is that I just opened the latest issue of Rolling Stone and saw that they named Winehouse “Train Wreck of the Year.”

Says Rolling Stone, “…Maybe it was actually going to rehab (multiple times), or canceling her tour, or starting to look less like the spunky functioning alcoholic with the voice of an angel we’d all come to love and more like a John Waters grotesque.”

It filled me with the urge to write about her downward spiral with a little more empathy than anyone else has given her lately. The “trainwreck” is 24 years old and one of the most talented voices in the industry. She is struggling, yes, and for good reason.

I’m not trying to be like Chris Crocker, sobbing and screaming to everyone, “Leave Amy alone!” It’s beyond the shallow Britney nonsense. Winehouse has unbelievable genuine ability. What we’re all trying to understand is why someone with talent this huge chooses to throw it all away.

Most of us have no experience grappling with a power as large as she’s been given. She hasn’t necessarily asked for it as much as she’s done what’s natural for her – creating music – and in doing so, has come to a point where she must face the true extent of her greatness. That’s an unbelievably terrifying thing to grasp – mainly because of the massive responsibilities and expectations that come along with it.

Her career has nothing to do with her as a person; it has to do with her capability to make music. This she’s already proven, it won’t be disputed. But now, she must deal with all the obligations that society presses onto her. She never tried to appear wholesome and completely in control. She never tried to be anything but herself, and no one seems to have given her any credit for that.

Winehouse’s music is nevertheless a reflection of who she is; fierce, powerful and at the same time scared shitless of her power. She can’t help herself any better than anyone else you know with a substance abuse problem and/or an abusive relationship.

Even though all the doors in the world are open to Winehouse right now, she’s not physically or mentally free enough to walk through any of them. She’s caught in many self-inflicted traps and the only way for her to taste what she thinks is true “freedom” is through drugs and alcohol. She’s just not ready to accept her gift. And until she decides she has the strength to flex the power she’s capable of possessing, it’s a complete toss-up as to how she’ll handle herself.

About the Writer

Jessamyn Cuneo is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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4 comments on The Amy Winehouse Catastrophe

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By Steven Lane on December 25, 2007 at 12:45 am
You get everything that you have wanted and dreamed about and then purposely flush it down the toilet. I would like to be sympathetic if I could find the barest of a reason to be so.
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By yesteryear on December 25, 2007 at 10:54 am
i agree with steven, it's hard to feel sorry for someone who's now got everything she wanted when she set out to make music and throws it away. i'd rather spend my time feeling sorry for a single mom who works at applebee's and can only afford to get her kids cheap crap from walmart for christmas. and as far as her being a 'walking legend'... i don't think so. sure, she has a nice voice... but so did aretha franklin 40 years ago and i don't remember her traipsing around like a homeless prostitute. it takes more than a pretty voice to be a legend.
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By Annonymous on December 27, 2007 at 10:47 am
I'm not sure I see your point. Are you trying to evoke sympathy for Winehouse? All I can say is that I don't feel any sympathy for her. We all struggle with things. Are her struggles worth more because she is a celebrity? The bottom line is this: at 24, you can make your own choices. If your choices keep landing you in rehab, it's no surprise that people will see you as a train wreck.
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By James Hershiser on December 28, 2007 at 02:18 pm
I do feel sympathetic, in a sense: after all, this shows that many times we are our own worst enemies. And to those that judge her so harsly: he or she who is without sin, cast the first stone. Or are you all perfect?
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