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Gritty, soulful and Jewish: Why I love Amy Winehouse

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#1 jcable06


    Marilyn Monroe

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 04:23 AM

An old article which I thought was interesting..

A few days ago I walked into Unicorn Cafe to meet with a friend of mine. The short walk didn’t warrant the inevitable white iPod headphones that accompany college students on trips longer than one block, but when I walked in the front door, Unicorn was already playing the song I would’ve listened to had I brought my iPod. It was pretty trippy. The song was Amy Winehouse’s “Tears Dry On Their Own” from her recently released album Back to Black.

Now, normally Unicorn Cafe and I don’t always get along, musically — but in this instance we were certainly on the same page. They tend to be a little more grunge than me; I’m a little disconnected (particularly with R&B) when it comes to music. So for me to be addicted to an album that had already been claimed by Unicorn Cafe was saying something.

“They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no”
— Lyrics from “Rehab”
What is perhaps stranger is the fact that my dad let me borrow the album as an afterthought. While driving, he suggested a few different albums that he had been listening to recently. Amy Winehouse was the first suggestion. He liked her grit, he told me, and the split between her musical styling and her jarring, not-so-happy-ending lyrics.

He left no time to regret
Kept his dick wet”
–Lyrics from “Back to Black”

What’s so appealing about her? Well, maybe it’s her eurotrash/LA chic (her MySpace pictures look like an American Apparel ad campaign…), maybe the tons of tattoos, maybe the ever-present cat-eye mascara, maybe the absurdly huge bouffant — big enough to hide full handles of hard liquor in (see also “Rehab”) — or maybe it’s the fact that she’s got a gritty voice that vaguely reminds you of Lauryn Hill or Dinah Washington.

Regardless, she’s broken into the U.S. music scene with a risqué, lyrically over-partied fervor. As long as she doesn’t suddenly get forgotten or decide to stop in the middle of a highway to change a baby’s diapers, she’ll probably be here a while.
Concert goers have accused her live performances of casualness that only sometimes connects her to the song, but until her tour dates bring her somewhere near Chicago, I’ll have to wait to weigh in on this issue.
Critics who don’t care much for Winehouse pejoratively bring up that she’s British and therefore once-removed from the birthplace of soul, here in the States. She’s been criticized for co-opting the 60s-70s soul/R&B sound and linking it with her party-girl lifestyle to sell records. But I’m pretty sure that even Dinah Washington and Lauryn Hill probably leaned on their images to sell some records at some point…
Regardless, bitch can sing. Go get her album somehow (iTunes / listen on her myspace or her site / wherever you get your music) — few, if any, of the songs lag far behind in quality. And her voice changes impressively from one to the next.
Winehouse? Brickhouse? Anyone else see this Commodores connection?
Oh, and she’s Jewish.
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#2 antceleb12


    And I'm singing this song for you...

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 02:22 PM

I like that article. Funny and very true.
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"Amy is amazing. It's as if Bille Holiday and Dianh Washington had a baby and it was raised by Janice Joplin." - jazzblowin on youtube

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