Judge the work

I’d like to write a post about Amy Winehouse that doesn’t get too trapped. Or that’s what I was thinking. Partly because although there is no question that she was a talent, and it is (always) a loss, I have to confess that I found her voice affected rather than affecting.

By that I think I mean that I felt she was kindof pitching at some role rather than truly expressing her self.   Consequently I let the music drift away – or maybe even pushed it. Right now that feels a pretty shockingly harsh judgement, but my soul’s response to that salty/soaked velvet croon was to simply fail to believe in it. It was unreal. And in the face of so much contrary emotion, I find that interesting, even if it does reflect badly upon me.

Now I’m aware of the absurdity – insensitivity even – of indulging in this particular moan at this particular moment. It may be something to do with wanting to ‘balance’ the understandable hyperbole. And I am heavily aware of the relative weakness of my position in terms of critical opinion. But when the critics and many of the great unwashed are foaming, look out, right? Especially when so much cool factor is invested, right?

Acclaim is surely a fickle and politicised beast; sometimes we suspect its motives as well as any intellectual quality it may have or lack. In addition, in the Winehouse situation, the thing is loaded with edgy but marketable ‘issues’ – drugs/irresponsibility/stridency/the inevitable car crash factor – all, arguably, clouding anyone’s ability to judge. For how many of us remain neutral in the Heroin debate, the What’s Her Family Been Doin’ debate, the Rehab With Your Loyal But Heavily Disappointed Fans debate?

On the one hand, cruelly, it seems Amy had a lot of support. On the other a void, an absence – her own. She wasn’t there when she needed her and presumably neither were the real friends that might have supplanted the illness. Or likely not.

We are fortunate that the music persists; the relatively small back catalogue that so gripped the handers-out of major awards as well as millions of ‘ordinary fans’. As is always the case with an artist – judge the work.

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