Read Amy Winehouse the biography 1983-2011 in 2 days (which is pretty good for me). But that’s more of a testament to an interest in the subject matter, than to the quality of the delivery. But I rarely listen to critics myself; so by all means don’t let me put you off reading it for yourself. But if you’re gonna buy a copy use the Amazon feature of buying one second hand. (After all, you’ll only read it once before passing it to a friend, tossing it in the trash or giving it to a religious acquaintance who’ll donate it to the book stall at the next church fête).
I actually picked my copy up whilst passing thru’ Manchester airport, on my journey back home. I guess the fact it was written by someone with the moniker Chas should’ve rung some alarm bells. The only other people called Chas, that I know of, being: one half of the cockney pop sensation Chas’n’Dave and the other of course Liz II’s eldest lad (and next in line to the throne). Neither of who’s biographies I can imagine diving into (armed with a cup of cocoa and a choccy-biccy).
Don’t get me wrong; I knew the book didn’t have a happy ending. Plus, maybe I could be accused of having a morbid sense of curiosity. (Now she’s ceased to be, gone to meet her maker etc). So perhaps I didn’t deserve to be entertained or perhaps come out of the deal any happier than our heroine did. But I still can’t help feeling cheated by Mr. Newkey-Burden. This book is more of the scrap (-book) variety. Let me explain.
Love Amy Winehouse’s music; but I’d long since lumped her in a camp with the artist formerly known as symbol. He’s one of the most talented guys on the planet, but you have to admit that the needle on his freaky-meter has a tendency to stick in the red zone (unless you tap on the glass occasionally). Once I listened to Prince I was hooked. But it took me a while before I could watch him with a straight face and a good while before I actually went to see him in concert. (Never regretted that btw).
With Amy Winehouse it was more a case that I’m no more into tatooed ladies than I’m into bearded ladies. Not my bag baby. That, coupled with all the British gutter press had to say about her troubled life (bless their cotton socks); I was content enuff to limit myself to giving her discs a spin. I could always go see her live later…right? (Suppose I’ll have to get my concert footage off DVDs and youtube now).
Having lived outside the UK for the whole of her short career, I happened upon this talented individual first thru’ the single Rehab, then her 2nd album (Back to Black), followed (very shortly) there-after by her debut album (Frank); (out of pure curiosity). Much the same as American audiences I shouldn’t wonder.
Come to think of it I discovered Adele…(who tips her hat to Amy for opening doors for UK female singers)…pretty much the same way. Single (Rolling in the Deep) first, 2nd album (21) next, followed by her debut album (19) by way of checking her back catalog. If you haven’t checked out Adele yet, then I highly recommend that you do. If you like your singers eased out of the Disney mould or spat out of the X-Factor(y); then it may take a while for your ear to tune into Winehouse or Adele. But it’s well worth the effort; I promise you.
Anyway back to the point I was trying to make: Came across Amy later in her short career. Thought I had more time to get over a hesitance to jump to the concert phase of our relationship. Mostly ‘cos I was fed up of the gutter press sticking the knife into people who’s troubled lives make them an easy target. I was no more interested in reading about (or witnessing) Amy’s misfortunes and transgressions, than I was in reading about Brittany Spears’ melt-down or Lindsay Lohan going off the rails.
So I was more than a tad disappointed that this book was more of a scrap-book of gathered newspaper articles, open letters from family members (to the press), concert reviews (some flattering, some scathing) and what seemed like easily gleaned facts about Amy’s short life. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by biographies a little more auto or perhaps semi-auto in nature? But at least then I get to see what it’s like inside someone’s head or at least in their shoes. With this book you only get to see what it was like walking in Amy’s f**k me pumps during her downward spiral. (Didn’t seem to be anything here I couldn’t glean off the web)?
Chas tries to put a sympathetic spin on things at times I think; but it didn’t really come across as any more genuine than it did when (following Amy’s death) the press started referring to her as Our Amy and talking about the loss of someone special. (Having spent the previous n-years slagging the poor girl off). Whatever sells I guess.
Watched Amy Winehouse on the BBC One Sessions last night and she kinda summed it up herself, in just a few short sentences (between sips of booze and the next song): “I hate that. You write all these songs ‘cos you feel a bit f**ked up. When it comes to the actual gig, you have to sing them in a row. F**kin’ depressing. Know what I mean”?
Guess that’s it in a nutshell. Gifts that made her stand out; money to burn; troubled love life; on and off booze’n’drugs; husband doing porridge; press hounding her and using all of that as inspiration for her song writing. Meant she had a constant reminder; even during the happier times. Didn’t need to read this particular book to tell me that. In fact it mainly played out the newspaper articles I’d been avoiding all this time.
If anyone knows of a more insightful book wrt her life story. What inspired her; where she came from (dream wise); what her likes/dislikes were. (Rather than a rehash of her demise). Lemme know. This book did have it’s moments, but on the whole…didn’t really do it for me. ;o(