I remember where I was when I was told to discover her, I remember where I was when I had gotten word she had died.
The guy in my Small Groups Comm Studies class was cute and he and I had struck up a conversation about music. I bragged about having a diverse and plentifully-filled iPod and he grabbed a hold of it and laughed…a lot. He might have seen that I had a few Barbara Streisand tracks (thanks, Mom) and this track that might, well, most definitely was the theme song to….Baywatch. I was totally embarrassed but that’s when he said, “You know, you should check out some real artists like LCD Soundsystem, Lily Allen, or Amy Winehouse.” After that debacle, I headed home for a weekend and downloaded all the Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse I could get my hands on…that was back in 2006.
It was summertime and I was listening to my iPod on shuffle while taking an afternoon shower. I’m not sure what I was doing before then, probably being lazy and enjoying a peaceful time alone. My family had all been down to the Delaware beaches and I wasn’t able to take time off because of my job. I regret that I don’t actually remember the actual track I had heard while showering. I’m thinking it was Just Friends from her Back to Black album–I know it was a slower track, a subtle track that is good relaxing, in-the-background music to listen to. With the shower off and a towel now on my head, I naturally ended up looking on my Twitter feed to read the tragic news. Amy Winehouse had been declared dead and unresponsive….July 23, 2011.
Director: Asif Kapadia
Run Time: 128 minutes
Productions: On The Corner Films, Universal Music, A24
Release Date: July 3, 2015 (limited release)
Summary: The story of Amy Winehouse in her own words, featuring unseen archival footage and unheard tracks.
When the trailer debuted, AMY sent chills down my spine. Obviously being a fan of her work and voice, I took the trailer more to heart than others who happened to see it in a commercial or as a filler preview. The haunting ending panning out to show a montage of pictures making up Amy Winehouse’s face–the music stripped, leaving the echoing vocals for her “Back to Black” track gives a spectacular creep factor and sadness. A feeling of tragedy and a sense of sorrow. I was determined to make my way to theaters even though I knew it would probably break my heart.
I finally had the chance to see the film and I wanted to share with you my thoughts. For some, when you say Amy’s name, you typically get an eye roll, a scoff, a pssh, a generalization about how she was a hot mess that had a crazy drug problem and got what she deserved. For others, you can see the sadness on their face because they realized that Amy’s voice was out of this world, out of this time because she could give some of the greats a run for their money! In watching this documentary, I was shown more proof on how some people are made for the limelight and some are just tragic artists who end up crumbling under pressure.
With a rocky childhood of her parents eventually splitting up and an absentee father, Amy admits in voiceover interview that her dad never showed up for anything of importance and when her parents officially ended things, she decided she was going to do whatever she wanted. This set up a path of wanting and needing a certain love, her father until the bitter end seemed to take what Amy gave but never returned the favor. Mitch Winehouse is painted as a father who steps back into her life just as she’s coming into her own as a successful singer and mysteriously is present for the big wins, BRITs, GRAMMYs, television show documentaries that really don’t have Amy’s approval. To see that unfold is tough because you see this raw talent and you just want to hug her and say you have something that is amazing, don’t get sucked in–be better than your demons.
To see her relationship and obsession with Blake Fielder, who inspires her songwriting–between breakups, makeups, marriage & divorce, he seems to be the leading factor into her spiral.
In the beginning, Amy’s friends show a side of her only wanting to purely be an artist, becoming one of the greats purely for music. She does maintain this notion throughout the film telling of her career but hooking up with Blake just as she was on the rise ended up being very dangerous. She smoked cigarettes, she drank, and she definitely smoked weed–that is abundantly clear to the audience but Blake introduces her to crack, eventually heroin is thrown into the mix as well as other highly fatal drugs. Learning about this on top of Amy’s very slim figure, you find out about her bulimia and the drug cocktails she takes never mixes well within her system.
The struggle for her rehabilitation is so sad because on the night of her GRAMMY win, her friend quotes her as stating that even though she’s sober things aren’t remotely enjoyable because there’s no drugs. It’s so upsetting to hear because you again see this girl with such talent, her voice is stunning–the notes she hits, high and low, raspy and sensual, drugs she have never brought her down. The fame and drugs took the heaviest toll on her body and in the end it seems like she was more willing to give in because the struggle would be forever.
The real treasures in this film are her pure moments: her first club performance, the first property she buys with her big-girl paycheck, the GRAMMY wins, her happiness and awe working with Tony Bennett, and lastly her songwriting. For other music documentaries that I’ve seen it’s amazing to see an artist put a melody to words, Amy was truly talented in this way. Her lyrics hit the listener hard, they’re eloquent, they’re solid, and they can leave you with an array of emotions.
I feel like I’m now just rambling because again, I’m a fan but I really do recommend you seeing this film if it’s playing in your area. Her music was genuine and unlike any other artist within the last however many years. Her sound is unique and soulful and she deserved more out of this life than being remembered as another tragic member of the “27 Club”. While the word “vulnerable” was thrown around many times throughout the film, that was more towards her demons and addictions but she’s actually a really strong person. Before the craziness, she developed a sense of throwback style, bringing back ’50’s style chic, pin-up girl tattoos, cat-eye lashes, and the biggest beehive hair you ever did see. She was cool and defiant in her own way. Strip away the pressure to produce, the paparazzi, to keep up the success, and her struggle, you’ll see what I see.
I also wanted to leave you with a few tracks that are my absolute favorites that she sings:
This track has an extra long instrumental but it’s the only one that was her recording…it’s my FAVORITE track!
If you ever followed the British Football scene, this song is so spot on for the WAG-lifestyle! It’s sassy and a very fun track
Just a haunting track and well worth the listen 🙂
If you’ve seen it, did you like the documentary? Tell me some of the artists documentaries you’ve seen before that you’ve loved and would recommend!
xx Linz aka The Kid
If you know of anyone that battles with drug use or an eating disorder please let them know there is help!
National Eating Disorder website:
References for Drug Addiction:
**GIFs & movie poster images not personally owned**