Do you remember when you first heard Amy Winehouse? I do. It was 2007 and although she was singing about drug rehab, I remember hearing the lyrics
"Oh I just need a friend/ I'm not gonna spend 10 weeks, have everyone think I'm on the mend/
It's not just my pride, it's just 'til these tears have dried"
and thought how closely they pertained to a situation I was going through. "Who is this person?"
I thought she was black. This woman had soul!
Turns out she was a little pipsqueak from London with bigger hair than a Texan and cat eyeliner that was all her own. I instantly loved her. If you don't own the Back to Black album -- download it. Great for cooking dinner on Sundays, dealing with heartbreak or painting your nails to.
The thing about Amy's untimely passing is that unfortunately, it's not untimely. People who did and didn't know her alike all recognized she was in trouble from the beginning, and was for a long while.
2007 was a crazy year in the media -- I was a sophomore/junior, and I remember being glued to Perez Hilton: in the same month Britney Spears shaved her head and had several run-ins with the cops; Anna Nicole Smith overdosed. Paris Hilton went to jail that summer. Lindsay Lohan was a hot ass mess. I remember thinking to myself that I thought Britney would be dead by the end of the year, and Lindsay would overdose within the next two. (My goal was to get to Hollywood, befriend them and get them to church.) I also thought Amy Winehouse wouldn't make it out of her marriage with Blake alive.
What's sad is that this woman was plagued with her demons in front of the world. They made her famous. Being an addict was Amy's schtick. Morbid when you think about it -- this woman was literally singing to the entire universe about her drug and alcohol obsession, and we would just clap and sing along. Cheer her on to perform the songs over and over. Such a beautiful voice with profound lyrics, that would come to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If one of my friends asked for me to listen to a song they penned, and it resembled a drug binge mixed with some heartbreak and a Motown vibe, I wouldn't be like, "Sing it again! That was an amazing rhythm! Smash hit for sure!" I'd probably sit her down and try to perform an intervention. Like, "Are you okay? We need to get you help." Unfortunately for Amy, parlaying all this in the public eye meant that there were people that actually relished her slip-ups from sobriety. It made for good headlines.
I have a hard time when I find out people are addicts. I know it's a disease and that it's hereditary. But that is not the only way you become an addict. It's not like you are born with the gene to be addicted to cocaine or whisky or anything specific for that matter. It's the addictive gene, and we all have one -- for some of us it's food, some of us it's illegal drugs, for me it's playing a song 7,500 times in a row when I first hear it; for some it's even porn or self-mutilation. But the thing that I want to point out is that addicts don't always come from a line of addicts. You can break the mold if you try a drug because drugs have addictive properties, much like cigarettes -- not to state the obvious or anything. For me, it's a matter of doing it in the first place: why try cocaine or heroin or anything like that when the outcome is always so tragic? The highs are never worth the lows.
If we keep making addiction an excuse ("But he/she is an addict!"), it means everyone is free to do whatever the heck they want. Show some restraint. Have self-discipline. This isn't just a principle humanity should want to perform -- it's a duty bestowed upon us from God. If we can be addicted to anything, then we can be addicted to shopping, cheating on our partners, stealing, sleeping in, etc. We can't eat sugar for every meal because, while it tastes good, it isn't good for you. While having sex is one of the most intimate and satisfying things we can do, having sex with other people (if you're committed) is not conducive to healthy lifestyle. If someone like to hurt themselves or others, it's not good to begin with -- and it's not good to continue. Everyone has their own demons to deal with. Discipline them!
So yes, I will say when I find out people are in trouble or pass away from drugs or an overdose, it's very hard for me to be full-heartedly sad and not partly angry as hell. You have to choose to seek help. You have to want to help yourself. No one else can do that for you.
Losing a life at 27 is tragic, however, the most tragic part is that we all saw this being acted out before us in the media and we essentially egged it on. We can blame her management and caretakers for not forcing her to take a break from whatever the hell she was doing and make it through rehab, but at the end of the day, they probably tried their best, and Amy herself made the decision that she wasn't going to get better.
What's most saddening for me are the people on Twitter basically talking sh*t about a woman who is now deceased. She can't even defend herself. She was someone's daughter and you're going to go on Twitter and say she deserved to die? I also found it quite tacky that people were quoting her song lyrics in relation to her death. I just find the whole thing morbid and disgusting, and while I enjoyed her music (and still do), how pathetic is it that we watched this human being go through hell over and over again but allowed her to keep doing it because she brought us some sort of entertainment?
I take that back. The most disheartening part is that nobody was surprised. "I can't believe Amy Winehouse died!" Nobody said that. It shocked us a bit to hear the news, but then it was like, "Well, given the circumstances, who is surprised?" It was a matter of what time, not when.
Rest in Peace, wherever you are.