Sunday, 24 July 2011

Pray for Amy Winehouse

Treating depression with alcohol and recreational drugs is always, always, ALWAYS a bad idea. Once upon a time, when I toddled into Student Services to see somebody about mine, the first thing she asked was how much I drank alcohol. I almost never drank alcohol. The shrink was relieved.

I am very sorry that Amy Winehouse is dead at 27. What makes so many artists really good artists is their capacity for deep feeling. Many artists are sensitive because it is sensitivity, in partnership with talent, hard work and Providence, that makes them good artists.

That is why artists seem so often to have mood disorders and also why sometimes they can be very hard to live with. Whenever I hear a conversation about someone I haven't met yet who has manic-depression, I always get very excited and ask if they make art. (I don't, incidentally, have manic-depression, but Graham Greene did. Evelyn Waugh also suffered from depression much of his life, and G K Chesterton famously had a nervous breakdown.)

I fear some people look down on Amy Winehouse for her crazy, self-destructive behaviour. But all I could see in the photographs flashed on the news last night was a sensitive young Jewish woman who was not pretty. Except for the beehive and the slashes of eye-paint, Amy was as ordinary-looking as most of us. And this was in an industry where, for women, looks are just about everything: there's a smidge of concern about actual talent.

Amy had talent and a gorgeous, smokey voice. She used her sensitivity to write and sing songs. Unfortunately, instead of working out an agreement with her pain, she tried to drown it with drink. And I'm very sorry about that.

So at Mass today I'll be praying for Amy Winehouse. I hope you will, too.


mary said...

I was so sad to hear about Amy. Her voice was so unique and so capable of conveying emotion. In the news report I watched, they showed a pic from 2004 (before the drugs/alcohol/problems had taken over), and it was heartbreaking to see her in good health and think about this loss of young life and talent. I'll be praying for her and for her family.

Multum Incola said...

Proof of your 'men like who they like' thing: I totally disagree that she "was not pretty". I always thought Winehouse was, in her own way, gorgeous.

I don't know why I felt the need to qualify that with 'in her own way'. Winehouse was a beautiful woman.

Requiem aeternam, dona eis Domine - et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Emma said...

Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace.

Irenaeus G. Saintonge said...

Agreed very much. I've been saying since Back to Black came out that she's going to kill herself with that lifestyle, and we as a society will be poorer for it. Such talent wasted... :(

Michelle said...

I have to echo the above commenter, that you could hear something ~not all quite right~ in Back to Black. It was a very dark, despairing album. Reminded me of a lot of Billie Holliday's renditions - i mean, I know soul singers need to feel, but the feelings here I sensed were pure despair. A voice crying out from a place of depression.

So I agree, the girl had a beautiful voice. In actual fact, she was beautiful. But when I listened to a couple of her songs for the first time (and really liked them) in 2007, that was it - I knew I didn't want to support her (by buying her music, going to her concerts), b/c I knew that by supporting her I was supporting her dissolution as a human being - and as an artist as well.

All in all a very sad story. I wish we could learn something from this, but that would be chasing many different threads down many different paths, too many at the moment; so all we could say at the moment: Eternal rest grant her O Lord.