I was never a huge fan of Amy Winehouse as a singer - those who praised her "unique" gift and talent struck me as people who had forgotten that Dusty Springfield ever existed. There was, in my mind, nothing particularly original about Amy Winehouse's voice (in fact, for a long time, I believed that I'd never heard her sing because I thought her earliest hits, like Rehab, were actually by someone of the Dusty-ilk). But I can't deny that she brought a certain type of voice back to the forefront of attention, and that that certain type of voice is one that I like (big fan of Dusty, me).
Even more difficult for me to adhere to was the person. Her evident lack of guidance, her lack of self-control and her compulsive behaviour all seemed unreal. Countless stints in rehab (of course) had no effect. She was, as so many people so frequently pointed out, a total trainwreck of a person for many years and I can't believe it comes as a surprise to anyone that she was found dead this afternoon in her flat in London. Officially, her death (so far) remains "unexplained" but I shouldn't think the actual cause will come as any surprise. I'm sure drugs and/or alcohol were involved.
She was 27 years old, and already she's been linked in to the "Forever 27" group of artists who died at that age (Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrisson, Brian Jones...). It is undoubtedly sad - tragic, even - for a young women to die. And you don't have to be a fan of an artist to feel sadness at such news and sympathy for those who loved her.
I've been on my own now for 5 days. I'm not under any kind of spotlight, I'm not being pressured by agents or publicists or record labels or hangers-on or journalists or what have you. I'm not a slave to a musical talent (of any kind, believe me) that pushes me to create, to perform. I'm not addicted to drugs or alcohol.
And yet, during these 5 days, I've realised how very hard it can be to exert self-discipline. I have achieved absolutely nothing. I haven't left the house since Tuesday afternoon. I've been going to bed at dawn, getting up in the afternoon, watching all kinds of crap on TV, eating little. I've done the bare minimum in terms of work, almost nothing in terms of cleaning or tidying. And I can't seem to pull myself out of it, pull myself together, get my arse in gear. I just can't do it.
It's easy to blame someone like Amy Winehouse for her outrageously self-destructive behaviour. "Why couldn't she just stop drinking?" is easy to say. Rehab may have helped temporarily, but she was clearly surrounded by temptation (including - at least at a certain period of her life - her dreadful ex-husband), she was just as clearly under pressure and even more clearly not receiving the help and support she needed.
Her death may have seemed inevitable for a while now. And perhaps it was. But there are almost certainly a not insignificant number of people out there who should be feeling pretty damn guilty. People who pushed her down the wrong paths, who didn't provide her with the support she needed. People who are, to varying degrees, responsible for the death of a young woman who should have been entering the prime of her life.
I am no particular Amy Winehouse fan, but her death saddens me because it is, undoubtedly, a huge waste. A waste of a life, a future.