Friday, September 18, 2015


Tonight I saw the documentary Amy, about the life and death of singer Amy Winehouse.

We only said goodbye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to black 

I always loved the music of Amy Winehouse. Her lyrics stung the way the best lines of prose attack you—her voice a rare seduction in a sea of trendy, chirpy female voices. She epitomized sexy jazz.

Unfortunately, like so many musicians before her, she died at the young age of 27. This film, crafted together like a scrapbook of home movies by director Asif Kapadia, chronicles her life.

We see a young girl emerge rebellious from her parents' separation (she was 9 when they split), an undeniable gift for music cultivated and a dangerous substance addiction present throughout. At the end of the day she was a junkie. An incredibly talented genius, but still a junkie.

The love of her life was her husband Blake, and the film implies he made a great effort to keep her high (he, also a junkie). Couple that with a battle against bulimia and the pressures of intense international fame and you have a recipe for disaster.

The film captures her spirit well: a painfully shy, wounded little girl mixed with a bold, raw, authentic woman. It's sweet to watch her rise to stardom in the early days when she hadn't yet disappeared into addiction; gut-wrenching to see her staggering around the stage near the end, not fully knowing where she was.

The whole story is simply sad but at least she left us the legacy of her beautiful voice, and now, though this moving portrait of her years, we can see perhaps why she left us the way she did.