Much like every other human on the planet, I love music. Love it love it love it. What’s more, I love music of all styles. I know it’s kind of cliché, but I really do. Jazz, Classical, Pop, Classic Rock, Hip Hop, Rap, you name it. Granted my musical diet has become much more exclusive in recent years, but I still love most music made before the year 2005.
I don’t know why, but music to me has kind of lost its luster since then. That’s why when a really really good singer or musician comes along nowadays, it means that much more. Amy Winehouse was one of those musicians. Regardless of her personal life or what you may think of her, she was one of the most talented musicians of the last 20 years. Amy Winehouse sits with many of the other music greats who died before their time: Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, the list goes on and on.
She had one of the most amazing voices I’ve ever heard. But not only did she have a great voice, she had a great band behind her. They built the jazzy-hip-hop-soul scaffolding that held her up. Really good jazz/soul music kind of fell flat after the late 1960s. Sure there were artists like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder that tried to keep it going (sort of), but they went too poppy and killed it. It wasn’t the same as the ’40s and ’50s, even the early ’60s where artists had feeling to their voice. Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday immediately come to mind. Billie, not only for her vocal qualities, but because of the downfall of the once-great singer.
There have been a few other artists in recent years that have come close; Duffy, Adele, Joss Stone, etc., but none of them had what Amy had: feeling. I’m listening to Frank (which in my opinion is much better than Back to Black) as I write this, and you can feel every word that passes through her lips. It’s beautiful.
I’m not trying to make a point with this blog, I’m just sad. She would’ve been 33 years old today. Can you imagine what kind of music she would’ve made after the success of Back to Black? Of most of the recordings that exist today, I think her acoustic performances are my favorite. Her voice is powerful when it’s in front of a band, but it’s even better when it’s front and center with an acoustic guitar.
Something you might not know is that what she really excelled at was ska. I found this album in 2008 at Waterloo Records in Austin, Texas. It’s definitely one of my most prized records in my collection. I’ll leave you with my favorite track off the record, and hopefully it’ll brighten your day. I give you permission to skank at your desk while you’re listening to it.
You know what they say: the star that burns twice as bright burns half as long.