Valentine's Day is next week. Now, I know some of ya'll will be rolling your eyes while everyone else is doing the sappy "moon, spoon, June" stuff. If you like your "love" songs raw and ugly, I suggest you make Amy Winehouse's "Frank" and "Back to Black" releases part of your V-Day soundtrack. For all her effed-upedness and suspected racial shadiness, I confess I dig Amy's music. The girl can sang and I appreciate the sly wit and fearlessness in her lyrics. She is unabashedly a mess and doesn't play the pouty coquette or the vixen or the girl next door--all typical archetypes for the modern pop chanteuse.
Instead, on "I Heard Love is Blind" from "Back to Black," she pleads forgiveness for a sexual indiscretion. After all, her beau left her alone and "I drank so much and needed to touch." Besides:
I couldn’t resist him
His eyes were like yours
His hair was exactly the shade of brown
He’s just not as tall, but I couldn’t tell
It was dark and I was lying down
On "Frank's" "Take the Box," Amy sneaks into an ex-boyfriend's flat to return his things--"the Moschino bra you got me last Christmas...Frank's in there, I don't care"--after a break up caused by an overheard ugly remark.
The neighbours were screaming
I don’t have a key for downstairs, so I punched all the buzzers hoping he wouldn't be there
And now my head’s hurting
You say I always get my own way
But you were in the shower when I got there, and I don’ wanted to stay, but I got nothing to say
"Love is a Losing Game" is my favorite Amy Winehouse song. It's beautiful, despite the downer lyrics. There is no talk of cheating, post-drinking impotence or stolen Marlboro Reds; there is just regret: "Oh, what a mess we made."
I am not fetishizing Winehouse's alcoholism and drug addiction. The life of a tortured artist is better in fantasy than reality. This artist has a fierce talent and a way of bleeding into a recording that makes her work uniquely compelling. I hope she stops looking for salvation in men, the bottle and the pipe.
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