Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Back to Black

This time three years ago, Matt and I were in full newlywed mode. We lived in a loft style apartment in the busy medical district of our city and were both working as teachers.

Back then, I had a difficult commute that spanned three different highways. In the morning, if I left at just the right time, I would be ahead of the traffic and the drive would take me 30 minutes. In the afternoon, there didn't seem to be a good time to leave. Bare minimum, I was in the car 45 minutes to drive 17 miles.

These commutes lent themselves to uninterrupted music playing. I would listen to several different artists, but one album made it into the CD player every day without fail.

That album was Back to Black by Amy Winehouse. The raw desperation and honesty in her voice captivated me. The jazz and blues undertones coupled with her throaty voice were unlike anything I had heard before. I've admitted in the past my weakness for British songstresses and Amy was no exception.
I quickly fell in love with the tiny, beehived British girl.

Sure, her antics didn't escape my notice. As someone who has a past with a loved one who suffers from addiction, I waited for her to hit rock bottom. When I became very upset with her, I wrote her an open letter on my now defunct Myspace blog (yeah, I had one, what of it??).

In my open letter, I explained to her that if she didn't clean her act up soon, her disease would take her life. I remember telling her that I would be so angry with her if she died too early because I wanted her to make more music. I wanted to be able to experience how her musical talent would evolve once she made it to the other side of her addiction.
Back to Black, while brilliant, was the creative outlet for a lovesick addict and the lyrics reflected a painful time in her life. I was anxious for her to turn a corner; I wanted to see how her music would sound in happier times. There was so much potential.

Y'all, I wear rose colored glasses a lot of the time.

Turns out, I didn't get angry when I heard the news of Amy's death, as I promised I would. Instead, I became despondent.

When I heard the news, we were in hour fifteen of a sixteen hour road trip to Iowa. I decided to use my last few minutes of battery life on my cell phone to check out what was going on in the world.

I gasped as I read she had died. My eyes brimmed with tears and I thought about the open letter. I wiped the tears away and realized that there would be no anger.

No anger; just sadness.

Sadness that a beautiful life was lost to addiction.

Sadness that such talent was squandered.

Sadness that she never got the help she needed.

I no longer have the long commute to work every day; when we bought our house I traded my 30 minute commute for a brief 10 minute jaunt.  I don't listen to Amy quite as much as I used to, but I think on our way home I'll pop Back to Black in, for old times' sake.  .

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City Life to Ranching Wife said...

Thank you for this. I haven't stopped thinking about her death and I've been listening to both her cds back to back since Saturday. She's the first musician I've cried for and I will definitely miss her and the anticipation of waiting for her next cd to come out. Addiction is an awful thing, and Amy's death to it makes me terribly sad.

ShontaeB said...

i loved Amy Winehouse. Sad to see such talent wasted and gone so soon. Hopefully she can now Rest...in Peace.

English said...

Very well written. I think with artists of any type (but especially musicians) we really do find the rare few that we connect with on a real visceral level. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose one of those artists that touch you in such a way. Its more than just music at this point.

Enjoy embracing her through her music!

Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

Great post. It's so, so sad when someone dies so young like this.

lvrana said...

Ginny, that was beautiful. I was not a fan of Amy Winehouse, not because I didn't like her, but because I just never really listened to her. Your tribute to her was very nice. It's funny how singers and other performers really have no idea how much they impact our lives. Whether it be a comedian/actor that brings you your regular Thursday night laughter after a long day at work or a songstress who helps you to unwind on your daily commute. They impact our lives in so many ways they will never know. I, too, am sad she never got the help she needed like so many others in our world both close to us and far away.
Enjoy your trip! I miss my lunch buddies! :)

jellybelly said...

I was not a fan but she had some songs that I liked. It's sad that it happened to her. She had a lot of talent.

The Twerp and I

thepsychobabble said...

It's always sad to see a life cut short. Especially such a talented one.

Anonymous said...

It's so sad to lose such an amazing talent. 27 is way to young to leave this earth. Way.Too.Young.

This was so well-written, Gin. I could really feel your emotion come through and I think Amy really spoke to you on this one.

Well done, amiga.

Barbara said...

so sad that such a young and talented person was lost way before her time!

Kristin @ What She Said said...

What a lovely tribute to a talented artist who, like many before her, died too soon. Her music obviously spoke to you, and I really enjoyed reading this.

Visiting from Mama Kat's!

Danielle said...

Great post! I've read so many posts lately about how her people are making too much of her death. I do agree that there are tragic things happened every day, everywhere. But it's not often that a musician possesses such raw talent and an amazing ability to captivate an audience. The mark of a true musician is someone who, like Amy, can make the listener FEEL. I think that in itself makes her death a big deal. Thanks for sharing!

Mama Kat said...

You did a great job wrapping up how a lot of us feel. Talent wasted for such a sad reason. You're right, she had such promise!