Amy Winehouse and Why Our Rock Gods Aren't Supposed to Die From Self-Abuse

I just have to throw in my two cents along with everyone else under the sun about the tragic loss of perhaps the best singer of the last decade. If you don’t agree, go back and listen to her two albums in their entirety. Or, just watch this video of her performing “Cherry” live in Boston a couple of years ago:

Winehouse’s debut album, Frank, may be too varied (read: patchy) for it’s own good, but there’s no denying that voice is able to croon jazz, R&B, dance tunes, or straight up pop with sass and heartbreak. Her second album, Back to Black, got overplayed — and the hit single “Rehab” is certainly no fun anymore, considering how her drug abuse crippled her career — but go back and listen to the album with fresh ears. At barely more than a half hour long, this pop-soul breeze feels fresh and classic, which is why it’ll only gain in stature in the years to come.

Fortunately, almost as many news reports have covered her blessed talents as those that have covered her cursed habits, but much has been made of how she died at 27, the same age as Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain. The difference here is that, these days, our rock gods aren’t supposed to die anymore from self-abuse, even if Winehouse did spend half of the eight years since Frank‘s release as a drug-addled tabloid punchline.

We listen now to those previously lost musicians and marvel at how their Dionysian or depressive ways (or the two combined) can be felt through their art — perhaps because of their interrupted lives, they still speak to us on a level both visceral and profound. Premature death embalms and gilds an artist’s limited output, and Winehouse deserves to get this same sad treatment, though, really, I would’ve rather heard years and years of what she was going to do next.