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Monday, 25 July 2011

The Before and After Of Amy Winehouse

Article first published as ‘The Before and After of Amy Winehouse’ on Technorati

‘… Without the yetzer ra ( an evil inclination or a e desire to satisfy personal needs), man would not build a house, marry a wife, beget children or conduct business affairs… (Talmud) …’ 

The Greeks said: “Those Whom The Gods Love Die Young’.

So London Jewish rock-singer Amy Winehouse has joined the pantheon of the The Forever 27' Club and the guys on Mount Olympus will have welcomed her with open arms.

Within hours of her sudden death  at home, the media was rife with lavish tributes – and mounting speculation - as to how it happened.

The easy answer is that her slight frame and battered system could not longer tolerate the constant beating from drugs, drink and rows with her lovers and friends.

Fans on  social networking sites have also argued that her trouble was due in part to her parents’ divorce and a split home-life as a child. But I don’t quite believe that either. The real reason must be more complex.

I am not convinced that she wanted to be healthy as her emotional illness is what drove her art. She had several chances of recovery but declined them all.

During the summer of 2008 she was supposed to go to the Barzilai Medical Centre, Ashkelon, Israel on a drug rehabilitation course. But she denied this was her intention and never made the journey although Dr Andre Waismann, who heads the clinic, claims  his patients recover in full because while addiction is generally considered to be a social and psychological problem, he believes it to be neurological.

The split picture (right) shows Winehouse as a healthyAmy.Winehouse.02 person  and then skeletally frail after years of self-abuse had taken their toll. I believe she preferred to see herself like that  because it was self-proof of her artistic success just as an anorexic chooses to remain unhealthily thin because of the ‘fat’ image projected into any mirror at which he or she may glance.

James Rhodes wrote in the Telegraph online: “There is a certain screw-you apathy and repressed anger that drives these artists – you can see it in their strut, in their stage-presence, in their day to day lives, in their unleashing of opinions rather than their offering of them.

”It is attractive and heroic to those of us with 9-5 jobs and a yearning for expressive freedom and it is an aspiration for attention-deficient children who have become tourists in their own skin.”

But there is yet more:

Winehouse’s passing came hot on the heels of that of the artist, Lucian Freud who lived a wonderfully long, rich, successful and often hedonistic life but  reportedly routinely misused and abused all those nearest to him, starting with his brother, Clement and continuing with the many women on whom he sired swarms of children. 

Many people may retort that the only commonality between Winehouse and Freud was their Jewish heritage. But they also shared a passion for their respective art, which crushed as it created, demolished as it built and razed as it enriched.

But while Freud destroyed others, Winehouse – who wanted her grandchildren (!) to learn that she once sang with Tony Bennett – finally annihilated  herself, any future music and the generations which should have followed her.

But as I am most certainly of the wrong generation to speak for Amy,  I’ll let DJ and producer Mark Ronson conclude for me: He said:

"She was my musical soul-mate and like a sister to me. This is one of the saddest days of my life."


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