"Alcohol and pills, it's a crying shame. You think they would have been happy with the glory and the fame. But fame don't take away the pain, it just pays the pills. And you wind up on alcohol and pills." Todd Snider.
I first saw Amy Winehouse on the BBC's show Never Mind the Buzzcocks. As a guest she was sassy, overtly flirtatious, and slightly drunk. Her self-deprecating sense of humor won me over immediately. I was smitten and I hadn't even heard her sing.
A short while later I heard her album, Back to Black. Her searing lyrics, her impeccable timing, the sheer haunting beauty of her voice blew me away. "This woman is 23 years old?!" I thought. Outrageous. Where does that wisdom come from?
Seemingly overnight, Amy was a public train wreck. We all rubber necked at the crash. How could we not? Amy was making it too easy. Fucking absolutely out of her mind wasted. Forgetting words. Falling down. It was not funny, at all. It's been downhill ever since. When I saw the recent footage of her 'comeback' show in Serbia, I knew immediately: she is not long for this world. I even tweeted those exact words that night. Turned out I was right.
Tonight, at the news of her death, I am sad. Sad because she was so young. Sad because she was so good. Sad, most of all, because it didn't have to be this way.
"Really, Dave? She was a hopeless junkie. One foot in the grave for years" they'll say.
I disagree. My own drug and alcohol addiction, and recovery, have shown me that nobody, NO ONE, is hopeless. Nobody. Ever.
Until they are gone.
Why couldn't we get through to her? Where did it all go wrong? Couldn't she just have stopped? Many furious questions. Very few precious answers.
This I know for sure: Amy decided a long time ago, that she was, in her own prophetic words, "no damn good." It's really that simple. Take it from me, junkies believe above all else, the following to be true:
"I'm not worthy."
Not worthy of love. Not worthy of peace. Not worthy of admiration. Not worthy of health and well being. Not worthy.
As I type this I'm listening to Back to Black. It's all over the lyrics. Go put the album on. Listen to her words. You'll hear it. She didn't give herself much of a chance. When you can't feel worthiness, or give and experience love, why go on living?
After hearing the news, we took our little boys up to bed. We talked about Amy Winehouse. What do you say to a child about addiction without sounding trite, or trivial, or judgmental. Turns out we don't have to tell the kids anything. They tell us. My youngest, the ever wise Timo, summed it up beautifully:
"She must have been very sad, Papa."
That's right my son. Very sad. What I wouldn't give to protect my boys, protect them forever, from the pain that Amy knew. But it doesn't work that way. We can show them the land mines, but they gotta do the exploding.
Thanks for the tunes, Amy. If only you could have felt our love.