When Amy Winehouse burst unto the British scene in the early 2000s with the cool and fresh take on soul that her debut album “Frank” held, she stood in stark contrast to the endless stream of talent show stars that were being churned each year. Moreover, she seemed to bring back not only a sort of music and style that was neglected by the mainstream for a few decades, but the kind of old-school cool that was missing from the music scene. Further down the line, when her off-stage antics of substance abuse overtook her career as the focus of media attention, the Amy Winehouse Rehab phenomenon and comparisons with the rock-stars of the 60s and 70s became even more appropriate, but increasingly tragic so, a story that culminated in her demise, age 27, in the summer of 2011. Here are 5 Amy Winehouse songs that complemented her life and struggles, and which you can watch on YouTube.
In 2005 and early 2006 Winehouse went through a period of drinking, heavy drug use and weight loss, the first public signs of a future rollercoaster of such spells, issues augmented by the death of her grandmother in 2006, described as a “stabilizing influence”. That period coincided with the writing of her sophomore album, “Back to Black”, which further increased her fame and visibility, becoming one of the best sold albums of the decade, for which mp3 versions millions of people rushed to download. It also included the mega-hit “Rehab”, an anthem of rejecting institutional support for her issues, which went on to become closely associated with her career and lifestyle. It’s a song that manages to live on in any version, be it the original or almost any remix.
2. I Hear Love Is Blind
Her love life was not spared the drama that the rest of her life was mired in, either. Throughout her 2 years-long marriage with Blake Fielder-Civil, the two were famous for having loud and violent arguments, with Winehouse admitting on several occasions of being violent against him after she had been drinking: “if he says one thing I don’t like then I’ll chin him”. Just a few months after their wedding, they were photographed in the street, bloodied and bruised, after an alleged fight. Later on, Winehouse spoke of the marriage as being “based on doing drugs”, while Fielder-Civil’s parents called for her fans to boycott her music, fearful that the two newlyweds would commit suicide together.
3. In My Bed
While on a break with her on-off boyfriend and future husband in 2006, Winehouse also dated singer-songwriter Alex Clare. The affair would have been easily forgotten if Clare wouldn’t have went ahead and sold the story to notorious, now-defunct, tabloid rag News of the World, which took a break from their usual Amy Winehouse Rehab Scandal coverage to publish the piece under the now famous headline “Bondage Crazed Amy Just Can’t Beehive in Bed”. In addition of making for a great listen, watch the stunning video created for this song.
4. Back to Black
The end of her marriage was every bit as dramatic as the beginning. In January 2009, she was spotted in holiday in Santa Lucia with actor Josh Bowman, where she said that she was in love again and didn’t need any drugs, referencing the roles of drugs in her relation with Fielder-Civil and that “for the time being I’ve just forgotten I’m even married.” Shortly after, her husband filed for divorce and despite saying that she doesn’t want to divorce her husband and that “I still love Blake and I want him to move into my new house with me—that was my plan all along”, the divorce remained uncontested and was granted just a few months after. Undoubtedly, both the chords and lyrics meaning of this song remain, even after her demise, incredibly touching for her fans throughout the world.
5. You Know I’m No Good
A US reporter once described Winehouse as a “victim of mental illness in a society that doesn’t understand or respond to mental illness with great effectiveness”. She also described herself as being manic-depressive and her well known bouts of self-harm and generally self-destructive behaviour lead to her to seek assistance in having her involuntarily committed, just weeks after the “Amy Winehouse rehab miracle”, which was a two-week long voluntary admission to a treatment centre in early 2008. That year she quit illegal drugs, but ended up relying on alcohol to treat the withdrawal, a pattern that lead to her death by alcohol intoxication in 2011.