You sexy, filthy thing. You charmed us with your old-school bebop style and sailor-swearing Cockney chatter. You repulsed us with your hideous heroin-skinny limbs and helpless alcoholic pathos. You introduced us to Mr. Donny Hathaway and the term “fuckery.” You were hard-core and brittle as an old bubbe‘s bones; you made the nervous breakdowns of pop tarts like Britney and Demi Lovato look like toddler tantrums.
Most of all, you held us captive, our mouths hanging open, our toes tapping no matter how old or self-righteous, with that voice—that soulful, husky voice that reached deep down and brought heaven and hell together, funneled forth from a 90-pound songbird teetering on F*@# me stilettos.
You were never a nice Jewish girl. Too many tattoos. So much public barfing. But watching you tearfully hugging Mama Winehouse with an armful of Grammy awards, we felt the pride for one of our own. We concentrated on the music, not the shanda. That’s why “Rehab” could pop up ironically in bar mitzvah DJ rotation. No longer.
In terms of creating your own legend, you couldn’t have picked a better time to self-combust: All the great ones died at 27. Jimi, Janis, Jim, Kurt—they all killed themselves through whiskey and needles and pills and playing with guns. Whatever your special recipe for destruction was, you join the pantheon of those who couldn’t handle the fame and fortune and artistic pressure, those who possessed heart-breaking talent but no sense of self-preservation. Welcome to the club.
Though many have recently reveled in the schadenfreude of your stage stumbles and wicked hot messiness, so many of us were rooting for your salvation. To hear that sober album. To maybe watch you marry a nebbishy Jewish businessman who adored you and see the tabloids scurry over how you got fat when you had babies. To cheer when you appeared svelte and mature in 2018 to release a smokin’ comeback that knocked us out all over again.
Instead, for generations to come, your songs will resonate with and be downloaded by every disenfranchised global youth with a penchant for jazz and weed. Your addictions will serve as a morality tale. You will be the poster icon for the ultimate Bad Girl. Whatever you believed came after death—if you ever thought about it at all—you’ll achieve immortality, at least in this current cycle of human civilization. It is in our sick world, I suppose, the zenith of artistic achievement. So congratulations.
We only wish we could have heard more.
great tribute and well written as usual.
I hope her example creates a new type of legacy and teaches the ones behind her that there can be grave consequences to all types of addictions. I loved her voice and sad we won’t have the opportunity to hear more of her music. My heart breaks for her family…
What gives you the right? You have no idea why she drank and did drugs. Self-destructive people want to live, too.
Amy was beautiful, fragile, awesome, talented, self-destructive, a one-of-a-kind without a mold. She was so different that even you stooped to remember her.
“. . . we felt the pride for one of our own.” Yet you could not, will not try to understand her pain. One of our own? All humans belong to the same tribe. “To maybe watch you marry a nebbishy Jewish businessman . . .” It was her life. Amy claimed to be “just a little Jewish girl.” If that included not marrying some nebbishy Jewish businessman, then that was her right.
Let her be. She’s gone. Let her be. Even in death some people are being unkind. I never thought you would be one of them. Then, maybe again, I did, or I wouldn’t be here now. (SIGH)
Really great lost for music.
Ami had an Amazing voice .
I will miss her .
Great eulogy. I am perplexed by the comments of Limner. I did not hear unkind words, but rather the raw truth that comes with self inflicted, senseless loss. Whatever Amy’s pain, alcohol and drugs were not gonna kill it and I am not sure that her own death will either. We cannot erase her pain or her music and now there is no chance for healing or redemption. Many artist feel isolated and strangely immortal. Her public battle was obviously a raging private one. I think Yoyenta was cheering like us all for her to grow out of pain or into a more healthy way of dealing with it since after all, death hath no mercy. Now her suffering is over, but her family’s has just begun. A singer has to sing their truth, and a writer has to write it. Yoyenta expressed what a lot of us were feeling which is slight ambivalence. We loved her music, her raunchiness, her sexy voice. Her act was not an act but rather her reality and that authenticity is what makes legends. We wanted more of that and less death. Simple isn’t it. She gave it her all and then gave up. Can’t blame us for noticing.
AMEN El Yentaman, amen. I too was perplexed by Limner’s comments and could not have responded any better!
I love her music , great lost.