25 July 2011

Missing Ms. Winehouse

This weekend, while everybody was doing a whole lot of talking (that is, texting, tweeting, or trolling the sewer of the internet otherwise known as the YouTube comment section), I did my best to remain quiet, and just listen.  After all, Amy said of Back to Black, "I think the record speaks louder than any of my stupid actions or things that I say."  So that's what I did; I listened.  I listened to an album that I first came to love on my parents' recommendation, and then all over again when Brendan gave me the Deluxe Edition, packed with an additional nine tracks.  I listened from start to finish, moving my lips but not quite singing along.  It was no easy task to hear this music with which I was once so familiar suddenly be filled with so much sorrow.  The music took on a new shape, assumed a darker and more daunting tone, and echoed with more foreboding lyrics than I remembered.  Amy Winehouse used to be someone I would listen to when I was feeling upbeat, or maybe a little spiteful, or maybe just when I wanted to feel badass.  But listening to Amy on the very day of her death transformed her music, and it was no longer upbeat, but bittersweet.

I'll admit I was shocked when I first heard the news, but not surprised by the news, if that makes any sense.  I got a lot of texts Saturday morning, all within the span of about an hour.  Some people were kind and compassionate, and I was reminded of how many people called my mom when George Harrison died.  Others were slightly cruder, as though they just wanted to be the first to relay the news -- because that's the world under which Amy rose to fame and was heavily scrutinized during the entirety of her eight year career: the digital world.  I avoided the internet like the plague on Saturday, but had a sick feeling that the news was spreading around more like gossip than lament. 

I thought back to the surge of negativity surrounding Amy's attempted return to the stage in Belgrade, and how people were offended and angry with her for doing such a thing to her fans.  She clearly had minimal control over her addictions, and expecting her to perform and give her fans what they "deserve" may have been asking a little too much too soon.  It made me consider that many people maybe don't take addiction quite as seriously as they should.  As I read the final pages of Infinite Jest, a book that tackles America's addiction with Drugs and Entertainment from every angle imaginable, I can't help but think back to these people that we idolize and expect to entertain us whenever we want.  I am currently lucky enough to be experiencing an almost uinimaginable resurgance from one of my favorite bands because their lead singer/guitarist was able to overcome his daunting addiction to pain killers and alcohol, turn his life around, and get his band back together.  Now Phish is on the third year of touring since their return, but it wasn't until rock bottom was reached that they were able to climb back to the top.  Trey says he was lucky to get pulled over while driving under the influence, be administered to the drug court system, and come out clean on the other side, or else his life as he knew it would have certainly been over.  Now I get to see Phish give or take twice a year, something I am ecstatic about, but never once expected.  We saw Amy nearing rock bottom in the first part of her 2011 tour, and what did we do about it?  We went on YouTube and whined and complained about how she didn't care about us.  Sick yet?


  1. I do believe however that there is another side to Amy's fans...or even the American public in general, but it is those people who are just not quite as vocal on internet threads or trolling youtube comments to put in their useless two cents. There is a certain breed of people that constantly comment on youtube videos, message boards, and other internet outlets. Generally, it is the people who focus on the negative. Especially on youtube where there is no reading or reflection on a piece involved, it is just instant feedback to a visual. When that video surfaced of her bombing on her comeback tour there was certainly a significant portion of the population who saw the video and thought exactly what you posted “look at this washed up has been celebrity singer, she owed us more than that,” but that was only one side. There were plenty of people (you and I included) that said, “That sure was one talented woman and this performance is just plain sad.” Sad not because that is what she gave her fans, not because she didn't care about us as you say, but because such a gifted person had fallen into such a low place. You bring up Phish in your post, which is a perfect example of the negativity that the internet brings. If you look at message boards for past shows you will most likely see more negative reviews and complaints than those of positive reviews (aside from the few recognizably amazing shows as deemed by the phish phan gods), but if you are at any one of those shows you will see the entire place enjoying the show and having an amazing time. It really just goes back to the majority of people who troll threads and comment on others posts, they are mostly just looking to be negative and cause a stir.

  2. "There is a certain breed of people that constantly comment on youtube videos, message boards, and other internet outlets. Generally, it is the people who focus on the negative." Exactly right. And community sites like YouTube that allow anyone to write what they think creates a voice for the otherwise unheard fanbase. But if the negative ones are the only ones vocalizing their opinions, then they become a part representing the whole, which in this case is a bad thing. By addressing them as the whole I could arguably be undercutting this synechdoche, or potentially perpetuating it. Although either would require a substantial reader base.