Thursday, 24 January 2013

the talent behind the drama

Having spent the best part of the last few days in a slight Amy Winehouse trance, I fear I should return to reality and contribute to society once again. To many of you though this comes as no surprise (that is, however, going under the assumption that anyone other than my own mother is reading this. Hi mama!).

If I'm going to procrastinate, I might as well do it right.

The whole process, however, has been a little disheartening, because as I was traipsing through articles, documentaries and tributes, I started to notice that a lot of it is directly related or dare I say, focused on Amy's personal trials and endeavours, that you start to forget what made her such a sensation. Her talent. Her raw, incomprehensible, effortless gift. It's as though we've all become so engrossed into the whole propaganda of being a 'celebrity' that we forget the whole reason they've shot to fame, the talent no longer becomes relevant. Many youngsters filled with talent and hope are so eager to get to the top, the question is no longer 'how do I get into the business?' it's 'how do I become famous'? I mean we're all guilty of it, I'm no saint, I've fallen into the trap and have sure as hell done it. But, are others so lucky to be as self critical?

That was until I stumbled upon a little BBC Two program that showed Amy performing in the remote area of Dingle in Ireland, a small performance of around 85 people as she took the stage at St James' Church. The production team at the BBC brilliantly assembled together Amy's performance, her interview and the praising comments of those involved with her on her trip to Ireland. It was essentially a simple documentary about a small girl with a big voice. Nothing more. But that was the beauty of it, what made it artistically praising and accurate. 

I don't recall the program ever focusing on Amy's personal life, instead it reminded us all of just how brilliant she was at her craft. As an onlooker, I felt I finally started to understand Amy Winehouse the artist, not Amy Winehouse the tortured soul. Once the acoustic performance of her second album, Back to Black was recorded, the interview centred around Amy's inspirations and musical journey, which I'll quite openly say was pretty darn insightful to see how she was progressing in the industry. When speaking about such treasures including Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, Shangri-Lad and Dinah Washington, I think I learnt more about the greats in music in that hour than I ever did back at school.

Having Amy perform acoustically with a very small and intimate band just felt like a little bit of magic, without sounding unnecessarily melodramatic, it felt like a scene from The Grinch where his heart grows three times the size, Amy had, or even still has the ability to make my heart grow three times in size. You can't deny people like her don't come along every day, there are not enough metaphors, similes or even elevated phrases I could use to drill the idea, listening to Amy sing, that voice just puts you in so much awe of her. So in true British style culture we celebrate and praise Amy, worthy of her work, once she's passed away.

But to avoid me going over board with the sentimentality and without making this into some sort of creepy tribute, I'll leave you with my all time treasured performance.

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