Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse

A Facebook friend made a great observation in the wake of the announcement of Amy Winehouse’s death:

“Don’t know why I would be sad about Amy Winehouse, but I am – life is tough. And I don’t even have the whole world mocking me.”

Perfectly said.

Life is tough. I’ve written here about that simple truth many times.

Another of my friends rightfully pointed out that the news of the death of a troubled starlet shouldn’t take precedent over the horrific news coming out of Norway.

I agree, but in some senses, I think people are gravitating to the Amy Winehouse story for two basic reasons:

Number one is simply that we’re vultures. We’re shallow and we like celebrity gossip. Nothing new there.

Number two is that this story hits closer to home than the events in Norway.

A politically motivated madman does some awful stuff and it’s hard to wrap your brain around that. You can’t grasp the fear, horror, the pain, etc. Of the two, it’s obviously the more important story, but…

…a girl like Amy Winehouse flushes her life down the toilet and you kinda understand that. It’s not as tragic as what happened in Norway, but there’s a flash of reality in that one.

That one coulda been us.

I guess we could be victims of a Norway-like situation, too, but those odds are a lot taller. There’s a much higher chance of me ruining my own life.

Life is tough. And every one of us has some kind of problem. Demons. Secrets. Skeletons in a closet. A past. Addictions. Crutches. What have you.

And you and I don’t live an Amy Winehouse kinda life. We don’t have that pace to contend with. We don’t have the eye of the world on us. Celebrity gossip rags don’t sell extra copies when you and I get drunk or wasted and do some dumb and embarrassing stuff.

Try to live with all that. Try living with all that, especially, when you’re obviously already prone to self-destruction and addiction.

Amy Winehouse had incredible talent. She was something special. Something different. She was authentic (unfortunately).

SIDE NOTE: Speaking of unfortunate authenticity, check these lyrics:

“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” - from “Rehab”

“I cheated myself / Like I knew I would / I told you I was trouble / You know that I’m no good” - from “You Know I’m No Good”

Amy’s star burned bright. And just like so many others whose stars burn bright, it burned out too soon.

I want to point out; I don’t believe Amy’s self-destructive tendencies had anything to do with her talent. I saw Steve Earle – who’s famous for having his own self-destructive past – at a book reading/signing a while back and someone asked him about the connection (self destruction and talent) and he poo-poo-ed the idea. He said he knew just as many self destructive carpenters and painters as he did artists. He also pointed out that “the real badass of the Beat movement was Alan Ginsberg…because he lived!”

Amy’s addiction didn’t have anything to do with her greatness. But it does make this whole thing all the sadder.

She was an extremely talented girl and a special artist who also happened to be a human who had a disease. And we watched her. Watched her perform and watched her burn out. And clicked our tongues and shook our heads.

And now that she’s gone, we say, “We knew it” and comment on what a shame it is but that we all saw it coming.

It IS a shame, of course. But, back off a little.

Life is tough. You deal with it your way and I deal with it mine and Amy dealt with it her way. None of the above are probably “good”…but Amy’s just happened to involve higher stakes.

The tragedy isn’t that Amy Winehouse died. The tragedy is that she couldn’t pull herself up. She couldn’t get past it, couldn't deal. The tragedy is that those around her couldn’t do anything to help her do that (not their fault, by the way). The tragedy is that people loved to watch her fall apart. The tragedy is that this girl who had so much talent to share and whose brightness, in some cosmically artistic way, actually made the world a little better (as all genuine artists do), couldn’t deal with life.

Life is tough.

Rest in peace, Amy. Thank you for sharing what you could.

1 comment:

  1. Amen, Ryan. It saddens me to see someone lose a battle with such addiction. The saddest part is that there are hundreds of folks--around the world, around the country, around the street corner--dying everyday from addiction and self-destruction but we only seem to take notice and acknowledge the issue when someone "famous" falls victim.

    I think Amy's death is an opportunity to shed light on these problems, especially as a "Christian" community. This is our chance to say, "hey, drug addiction and self-destruction are real things. Many of us suffer, let's sit down and figure out how we can help each other."