When did Amy Winehouse make it big?

The news of Amy Winehouse's death on July 23, 2011 shocked the world in a way that came as a surprise. For years she had destroyed herself on a brightly lit public stage, pumped full of crack, cocaine and alcohol. She had to be rescued more than once, again and again, and the aim of this brutal shot was absolutely clear. And yet. And yet this death moved so many, because one was used to the eternal ups and downs of Amy Winehouse, that one did not want to believe that it could really come to an end. Because perhaps one had hoped that her talent would save her again and again, because it was not allowed that such talent would be stopped by something as mundane as death. This disbelief about their end, the sudden bewilderment, broke through a storm of breaking news, Twitter messages, Facebook comments, forum entries, the first obituaries, countless everything, countless. Because the young woman was world famous and world notorious, which is why everyone, it seemed, had to have and express an opinion about her, many of them so certain that it took your breath away. In view of this, perplexity is perhaps: the last resort, pure self-defense, the only dignified attitude.

Amy Winehouse, the lost one

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Dignity is a popular category in connection with Amy Winehouse. With her, the sensitive obsessive, only ever used in the sense of a devastating: dignity. In this assessment, art and people lovers of the boulevard and the feuilleton, i.e. the boulevard of the upscale estates, always quickly agreed. Those who babble, stumble or completely absent and broken in public, who show their vulnerability in brutal self-oblivion and don't give a damn about the opinion of others, who so casually disregards all normal bourgeois categories of decency, somehow have their dignity lost. That is, it has to be said so clearly, is probably the most ridiculous category of all categories for judging real artists. One's own boredom, one's own self-control, one's own addiction to control as a yardstick - that of course cannot do justice to free spirits like Amy Winehouse.

And before we deal a little more with what has unfortunately shaped her image too often and too overwhelmingly, also with how she has shaped her image too often and too strongly, because she is much less the victim before we deal with this shadow that stuck to her larger than life and seemed to occupy her more and more, let's quickly express a few simple, great truths quite calmly.

A Few Truths About Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse was an exceptional talent who had fallen out of time. A great voice of its decade. A real solitaire that stands for nothing other than itself. She is not the voice of her or a generation; not even that of her own biography. She sounded far too old for her age, too experienced, too serene, too cryptic and mystical. Like no other, she has interwoven her art with life, oh, what does interwoven, it was an inseparable source from which her art and her life fed. With just a few steps and a work that can only be described as very clear, it immediately climbed a permanent place in Olympus. She will still be sitting there when the whole circus around her will be nothing but an unclear slide, in front of which she will shine all the brighter. It was one of those exceptional phenomena that made the masses dance with real art, with music that was once considered a niche work as incompatible with the mainstream. She was not interested in these limits, she burst these limits, perhaps by accident, perhaps on purpose, but most definitely through the power of her music. She created one of those rare pop highlights of the unity of mainstream and criticism, when the magic strikes everyone and there are only winners.

So there she was, the mainstream artist with her penchant for excess, which was described as a rock'n'roll lifestyle and accompanied by lustful voyeurism from the outside, although there was probably nothing rock'n'roll about it. It was recorded meticulously, when and where again how brutally let go.

But if you think you have to argue and judge with dignity, you can of course, with unbearable self-confidence, blow all the certainties in your demise into the storm, all the conjectures, all the pathologizing and blaming, optionally addiction, fame, the music industry, the media, the wrong friends, the wrong ex-husband.

None of this could have killed Amy Winehouse on her own. She only died alive, like we all will at some point. Most of them just take more time to do it.

Amy Winehouse died alive

And by then they will not have lived as hard as Amy Winehouse apparently did, so it is recorded in an unmanageable number of published pictures and videos. Some of them were made by someone she herself considered a great, true, one love for a while, at least that's how she was quoted in interviews: Blake Fielder-Civil, formerly video assistant, now a convict.

The night before these pictures and videos from the Fielder-Civils digital camera were published, one of those stories was created that has become so rare in pop journalism. No star, management or record company would grant insights and access for this. Or maybe there wasn't anyone but Amy Winehouse who would have offered similar material, literally. Even this story, however, as the reporter Claire Hoffman wrote for the American "Rolling Stone", reveals nothing about who Amy Winehouse may have been and why she did what she did. The text provides, if you will, only further indications of a life that was neither revealed in journalistic considerations nor in art. One wanted to find truth in her music, especially in the songs on the second record BACK TO BLACK, the most heartbreaking love album of the noughties, Amy Winehouse's Opus Magnum. This also reinterpreted the soul and blues through the congenial co-production of Mark Ronsons, who presumably did not even know exactly what he was doing himself. Because even if he is the greatest soul nerd in the world, BACK TO BLACK only became so modern because it was ultimately a DJ replica of soul; had Ronson been a better musician (and Salaam Remi an even better producer, but the Dap Kings a worse soul backing band for the recordings), BACK TO BLACK would have been a musical copy.

So it was the night of June 8th, 2008, a Sunday, a few hours earlier the Czech Republic had opened the European Football Championship with a 1-0 win against host Switzerland in Basel, and a few hours later a few million British people would be playing at breakfast Open up the Sunday newspaper "News Of The World" and watch Amy Winehouse taking drugs and other activities of a more private nature, including singing a racist song, which Winehouse had done at the request of her new wedlock - and in a precarious state . An alleged friend of Winehouse allegedly passed on almost a hundred pictures and a lot of video material from Fielder-Civil's digital camera to the Schmuddelblatt to warn her about her husband, according to its explanation for publication. It is of course an absolute coincidence that this "News Of The World" of all things is discontinued two weeks before Winehouse ‘death - the artist will not have felt any satisfaction, the media game was probably too indifferent or too familiar for her.

At four in the morning the reporter was waiting in front of Winehouse ‘Stay in London with the paparazzi crowd when suddenly the door opened and Hoffman was invited inside. She spent the next five hours with Winehouse and her close friend Remi Nicole in the trashed house, jotting down everything that was said and done that Winehouse looked deranged and disappeared into the bedroom every half hour, apparently to reload whatever. When Hoffman's notepad was full, Winehouse gave her more paper to write on. In addition, she asked a paparazzo at the door to buy the three women beer, which he did, but then wanted the money back, in vain, like a pizza delivery boy who had been cheated on.

"I want to fall in love like Amy," Nicole said at some point while she was massaging her friend, "I think I've been in love before."

Winehouse then raised his head and said, "No, no, if you had really been in love, you would be dead now, because you didn't get together with him."

Then she got up and went into the kitchen, while Nicole and Hoffman clicked their way through the pre-uploaded photos on Winehouse's laptop on the News Of The World website, including a blowjob picture of the two of them Looking away in shame, Winehouse shouted from the kitchen, to whom the whole scandal about her person did not seem to reach, on the contrary, who seemed primarily concerned with finding the right outfit for her appearance in front of the paparazzi: “I was never long in the clinic, have hardly withdrawn seriously. I'm young, I'm in love, and sometimes I'm booming. But it never got to the point where I thought, 'Amy, you have to get your life under control.' "

Claire Hoffman had her scoop, she had been inside, in the eye of yet another Amy storm, not the first, not the last, just the one, as it turned out: the largest for the time being. While everyone was watching from outside, half disgusted, half amused, at least fascinated by the continued self-destruction of a young icon: we were all eyewitnesses, from a distance.

But Hoffman didn't really have a story either, because how surprising it was that Amy Winehouse's self-perception was so completely different from the devastating image the world had now made of her. Almost two years after she became really famous with BACK TO BLACK. At best, one could have pondered whether Winehouse's perception was already hopelessly clouded by all the substances with which she had treated her body - or whether her view of the world had been fundamentally different. Always, from the beginning, and whether, contrary to expectations and against all clichés, the fame hadn't changed anything, only the external circumstances: the sudden attention, the obligations, the sudden money. She herself said in interviews that she was never interested in becoming famous; and that she really wanted nothing more than to be a good wife to her husband.

But how seriously could you take her wording, when each of her interviews (there weren't that many) was subject to the reservation that the interviewee might not be completely sensible and sober? Or, that was a variant that she herself brought into play: Has she always been mentally ill, a manic depressive who, according to her own statements, refused any drug treatment? Then why didn't anyone seriously step in and protect them from themselves? Because nobody was interested in it? Or was it not allowed to intervene on principle because it was Amy Winehouse ‘free choice to sing? Because all that followed - fame, attention, commitments, and money - were just side effects of that singing. Side effects long awaited by most artists.

Amy Winehouse took her truth to her grave

You can ask the questions, maybe you even have to. But any answer would be speculation, and the truth, if there is one, Amy Winehouse ‘Truth: She took that with her to the grave. So let's leave that. And better ask: about us. And then what role Amy Winehouse had for us. You don't have to speculate, and if you do, it hits the living: They can still defend themselves.

The fact that artists create projection surfaces for the fantasies of their viewers and listeners with their art is really nothing new. What is only slightly newer is that their media-mediated lives outside of art, whether they are carefully staged like art itself or just happened, for better or for worse, can be consumed by all of us as a surrogate for life: in the better case, we want to be like them , the stars, rich and beautiful and famous, in the worse we are glad that what happens to them does not happen to us. We keep adjusting our dreams and fears to the stars and their supposed have and do. We regulate our ethical and moral standards. This is the psychosocial arousal and control function of all gossip, from the garden fence to the endless expanses of the Internet. We drive away the boredom with them and the stories about them, which are about ascent and fall and resurgence, about happiness and suffering and excess and mostly about crossing borders.

This is what most of us lack in life, unfortunately or fortunately: the good stories, the tough ones. And the more intense and extreme the story, the more violent our reaction to it. Only then do their main characters become true substitute religious, even messianic (fellow) figures of suffering: Amy Winehouse suffered, drank and lived on our behalf. So we didn't have to do that. Has she died for us now?

Amy Winehouse suffered, drank and lived on our behalf

In any case, her death is the greatest possible anti-climax in a story that only promises redemption and catharsis in life, but not in death: the eternal comeback.

The lifeless, but also annoying monotony of Amy Winehouse's last almost unconscious years, her endless stumbling and falling was already a counterpoint to everything she had become for her audience through Back To Black: The album just worked in Winehouse's lyrics as Comfort for those who may never have loved as hard as the narrator sang to them. Mercilessly consistent also against oneself and all reason. So love can be so great, that was the romantic hope for the audience; as terrible as it was to endure and overcome, that was the warning. But nobody could have imagined that things could get so terrible afterwards, when love really starts, not in art but in life. That was when Amy Winehouse got serious about falling into the darkness of love.

That everything could get this far was due to an acoustic deception: This voice was too serene and trained for its owner, too experienced for a 22-year-old, Amy Winehouse was still a very young, but not precocious girl during the recordings to their second, now last album five years ago. She was, which also made her look so unique, one of those somehow primeval, seemingly archaic natural talents that come out of nowhere. Even if there was musical training at various theater schools, and the great human marketer Simon Fuller, who signed it - to build a counter-figure to those he had invented and invented himself, all the good, ambitious cast members. Fuller probably knew exactly: The audience's longing for the authentic, especially in its extreme form, is a marketable constant. Amy Winehouse swept everyone off the stage. When she was done, literally, she had cleared the way for neo-soul and other British women who didn't seem so extreme, but also authentic and who sang about their life, the less extreme: Lily Allen, Duffy, Adele and so on.

Amy Winehouse was a classic system flaw that made the Pop system work. A cheap illusion that looked real and believable. On this basis, which has been functioning since Elvis, the media rocked each other up and the industry was able to use its marketing mechanisms learned over decades. Amy Winehouse was an imposing figure who has long shown us that true inspiration and genuine suffering can even survive in the form of goods. A cynical, a fatal fallacy. For the really big game you need the unpredictable with the will to the ultimate in self-exploitation. This is the only way to guarantee a certain calculability of the general excitement. Human inadequacies feed a voracious machine. Ultimately, Amy Winehouse, who will lead posterity as a pop culture icon, is completely out of control. Against all common sense, we have all long believed in the innocence of this inspiration. A fateful mistake that Amy Winehouse herself also made.

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