I’ve deliberately stayed away from most things Amy Winehouse the past week, save for the obligatory Facebook post last Saturday notifying friends of her demise. But let’s face it — I’ve loved her music since I first heard “Back to Black” in 2007 (and subsequently cursed Universal for not having the balls to release her debut album, “Frank,” here in the States when it first came out). And the album became the gateway to me discovering the band that backed her — The Dap-Kings, and, of course, Sharon Jones.
And, well, how could someone enjoy this terminally damaged talent (for her talent, not the terminal part) and not have her music stuck in their head all week? Thus, I gave in to my better musical angels and, well, here goes: the Amy Edition of Five Songs. And not one “Rehab” in the bunch.
In addition to my three favorite Amy songs not called “Rehab” (and actually, “Tears Dry on Their Own” is my favorite), I tossed in two interesting twists I hadn’t been aware of: a great mashup I stumbled into of “You Know That I’m No Good” and Linda Ronstadt’s ’75 hit version of “You’re No Good”; and Ronnie Spector’s love of her. You can hear Ronnie’s previously unreleased studio version of “Back to Black” accompanying her tribute to Winehouse on rollingstone.com; the version here is from B.B. King’s in Manhattan last December.
I didn’t know Ronnie was such a big fan, but it makes sense: “Every time I looked at her, it was like I was looking at myself,” she wrote. “She had my beehive, my eyeliner, my attitude. She had such a great soul in her voice and her lyrics were so amazing that I couldn’t help but sing one of her songs. I was so happy to see an artist like Amy, because she reminded me of my youth. And she loved girl groups. Damn it! I thought she would carry on.”
And it made for a poignant artist-artist connection. As Ronnie recalled in her piece: “Amy came to my show in London about six months ago, and she was so shy. She was hiding behind somebody, but I could see the hairstyle, and I knew she was there. That was all I needed. When I sang ‘Back to Black,’ I could see the tears in her eyes, and there were tears in mine.”
And thus, a Five Songs I wish I was posting for much better reasons.
Tears Dry on Their Own — Amy Winehouse
Fuck Me Pumps — Amy Winehouse
Me and Mr. Jones — Amy Winehouse
You Know That You’re No Good — Amy Winehouse/Linda Ronstadt mashup
Back to Black (live) — Ronnie Spector