About two weeks ago, my best friend Michael and I met up at a free concert at South Street Sea Port in NYC. The vintage post 30’s NY crowd was neatly arranged into hot hipsters, stubbled ink clad men in perfect fitting blue jeans with an array of runway girlfriends with red red puckered lips and long black fingernails. We are all sinners and I was strutting around with my antique camera that screams, I’m shooting film! I’m the most vintage!
As the extras took their place as audience in this mellow drama, I adjusted my light meter, positioned my camera and, action!
But not really. The headlining band took the stage, although “took” might be too strong an action to describe what they were doing. The best thing they had going was the guitar player’s hair cut, (long on the sides, bangs in the front) and, as in most situations, the woman, the drummer, doing all the work, barely visible in the back. Something with distortion and long drawn out, lingering chords and it was all very boring.
What’s so important about you? I said, to the band or nobody in particular. And after a couple of songs, we left.
IF we travel back in time to 2006, “Back to Black” hits the United States.
Not what’s so important about you, but “Ms. Winehouse, you are so important.”
There is a space where we all get lost. We begin this journey for different reasons. Those of us without any positive relationship models or control of our hormones possibly took our first steps as adolescents or teenagers. Some may have smacked into this wall, completely unaware, convinced that their relationship to love and romance was infallible.
It’s an awful place. Full of pain and self doubt, suffering and heartache, other girl-women who are prettier than you, cheap vodka, American Spirits, and Amy Winehouse Songs.
It didn’t matter that she was 10 years younger than me, this skinny little bitch was belting out shit from I don’t know what, and what? I knew exactly what she was talking about and she took my lack of self-control and low self-esteem and made it, well, she made it sexy. All my indiscretions, all my indecipherables, all my indefensible actions… she made them cool.
I embraced my inner Amy Winehouse and wore my darkness like a badge of honor, like anyone who ever had their heartbroken and smashed to pieces did post-2006. Her songs were a weapon to fight off the darkness, a tool you could use to begin to climb yourself out.
And I feel like we all drink a little too much to try and cushion the blow when we somehow fall, stumble, careen into love with an unwitting rival who can’t or won’t reciprocate our misguided advances, right?
Except, on my way out of the darkness I could graduate from my inner Amy Winehouse and evolve, slowly, finding strength in my inner Kathleen Hanna, and then solace in my inner PJ Harvey, until I reached the light and could see myself again.
It’s easy to say Amy didn’t like what she saw when she found herself again, but I can’t help but think about some mitigating circumstances, about some meddlesome parties who maybe wouldn’t give her the right mirrors so she could see herself as the light of the sun that she was.
Manic and hungry, she was assaulted by an unforgiving media, comprised of unevolved and unvisionary spokespeople against anything useful or pretty who made easy jabs at a young girl who was really, a prodigy, and had a problem with drugs.
It’s a terrible thing to watch someone you love be consumed by drugs. I can’t imagine what this time means to her family and friends and fans. Addicts are the only ones who can control themselves and get sober. But sometimes it helps when someone is shining a light into the darkness and giving you some direction so you can figure how to get the fuck out.
The media who now lament her passing, who as recently as Belgrade masked petty opportunistic gossip for music news, relished her in her self destruction, needed Amy sprawled on the ground bleeding from her fingers and starving from her belly so they could justify their existence.
And I can’t help but think whenever something was posted on youtube or with every comment on late night comedy disparaging this young woman who was doing something truly amazing, who was shining a light in our darkness, they were looking at all of us, right in the eyes, asking, “What’s so important about you?”