Category Archives: jazz

30 songs: 13

13: A song by a musician that has passed away.

Some weeks ago I watched Amy, the documentary about Amy Winehouse, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since then. I just can’t stop thinking about the tragedy that was her life. I found three scenes particularly painful to watch:

  1. An interview with Amy after her debut album Frank was released. Someone asks her if she thinks she’ll become famous, and her answer is that she’s sure she won’t because she’s a jazz singer and that is not a commercial genre. Hearing this was just painfully ironic, knowing the influence her work would end up having in the music industry and knowing fame would end up playing a big role in destroying her.
  2. A brief moment about 1:22 into the movie. Amy’s standing by a car. A few paparazzis are circulating around her. They are all hidden behind their camera lenses and constantly taking photos. Amy doesn’t look at them even though they are inches away. This scene resembles predators approaching their victim, except this is grown up human beings. Approaching another grown up human being, who they know is in deep trouble and in desperate need of help. I cannot emphasize this enough: they know about her situation. Yet they keep disturbing her, comfortably distansed by their cameras. How can a paparazzi photographer sleep at night or even spend money they’ve earned without feeling sick to their stomach? They are literally – in many cases such as this one – stressing people to death. You can never justify something like that by saying that you’re “just doing your job” or “if I don’t do it someone else will”. What also strikes me while watching this documentary is that all paparazzis are men. Enough said.
  3. The Belgrade concert. Despite having been in very bad condition for a long time, and despite currently being passed out at home, Amy is driven to the airport and put on a flight to Serbia to perform. The documentary shows Amy on stage. She’s apparently too drunk to do her job. Some people in the audience start booing. The look on Amy’s face is devastating. It is the face of a confused and horrified child. My thoughts watching are: “Seriously? They are booing a fellow human being who is clearly agonized and broken? Who does that?” Some people are even laughing at her. Everything about this scene is so tragic. What her life became. How people treat other people.

When you’ve got a couple of hours to spare, I would really recommend watching Amy. If you have a heart the movie might exhaust you, like it did with me. But it will be worth it, because improving your empathy is always important.

Amy Winehouse – Back to Black

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