Hearing the initial news that my favorite singer had died was hard to believe. And here today, it’s hard to believe that it has already been a year that she’s been gone. Hard to believe that outside of a leaked version of an unfinished track or two, and couple of posthumous collaborations, we’ll never get a proper Amy Winehouse release again.
I hate to say it, but on the path she was on, in the back of my mind I figured it was only a matter of time before the inevitable. But I never expected it to happen so soon. In fact, I held out hope for the opposite. There were reports she was doing alot better, looking alot better, and sounding alot better than she previously had been. Had a new album in the works, and had been performing again.
I was first introduced, albeit unknowingly, to Miss Winehouse’s music in December of 2006, on Ghostface Killah’s album “More Fish.” I’m not sure if it’s a testament to Amy’s ability to capture (and in essence, BECOME) that throwback sound I’ve long been a fan of, or an embarrassing lack of ear on my part, but on Ghostface’s “You Know I’m No Good” I could’ve sworn the hook which Amy sung was a vintage vocal sample the producer dug up just for Ghost. It was until later on I went searching for the original sample (which I so often do, especially on beats with vocal samples) that I discovered the amazing voice I heard belonged to a young artist from the UK set to make her U.S. debut soon.
The day was March 2nd, 2007. I had downloaded both of Amy’s albums “Frank” and “Back to Black” (hey, I couldn’t wait. Don’t worry, I bought both 11 days later on the first day of the latter’s official U.S. release) and I don’t think I listened to anything else that day. I was instantly hooked. Those that know me know I’m no fan of the “current” or “modern” R&B sound, with a few notable exceptions. I’ve always been fond of the style from the old soul artists from the 60’s & 70’s, and took a particular liking to modern artists to emulated and paid homage to that sound. So when I laid my ears on these albums, I instantly fell in love, with both her and her music. She not only paid homage to that sound I so loved, she had MASTERED it. THIS is what I wished modern R&B sounded like, and on this day, it did. My initial thoughts were this was the beginning of a long and productive career. Little did I know this would pretty much be the bulk of it.
Over the next couple of years I’d discover unofficial compilations, unreleased tracks, and remixes of songs and past collaborations, but never that next classic album that we all longed for. Between her drug, legal, and personal issues, hoping for another release seemed like nothing more than a pipedream. We’d eventually get another album, which was great music in it’s own right, but it was scraped together from unfinished demos, remixes of past b-sides, and til-then unreleased one-offs. Almost half of the album we’ve heard before in one form or another. Again, it was damn good, but certainly not the slow-crafted masterpiece that she was capable of, that both she as an artist and we as loving fans deserved.
So here we are a year later. Amy is still gone. The questions of “what-if” still linger. The sadness still remains. But so does the joy of listening to the handful of wonderful music she left us with. And that is what’s most important.
R.I.P. Amy Jade Winehouse 1983-2011