Monday, 26 September 2016

MusicMonday - Lost In Music: 'Amy' - The Movie

They say that you never forget the big moments in history

9/11, Obama's Induction, any number of celebrities passing from this Earth. If there was one that stuck out in my mind though, it was when a certain member of 'The 27 Club' left us, after a seemingly endless battle with drugs and alcohol. I remember exactly where I was when the news broke that Amy Winehouse had lost her battle. I was in a meeting with my then two PA's, and every phone in the venue suddenly went wild. Reading the headline, and the estimated time of death, I realised that I was approximately three roads away at the time, going past on a 253 bus caught up in delays around the stop that you would get off to walk to her house. With a careless shrug, I simply said that "It was inevitable"; and went back to brainstorming with my girls. 

Watching the film 'Amy' last week, I couldn't help but feel a personal sense of shame, as I listened to her friends and family speak - including a personal favourite singer of mine, Juliette Ashby - about how they struggled to break the troubled singer free of her drug habit, worsened by her then husband, fellow addict, Blake Fielder. The early Amy is the one that I remember meeting and speaking with briefly at her HMV instore signing at Oxford Street in the early 2000s. A lovely, warm, personable girl, who breathed only to sing; she wrote the sweetest note inside my CD inlay, which I'm gutted to no longer have, due to a rental storage accident. I felt like I met the real girl, and she couldn't have been lovelier if she tried.

That's why I couldn't understand her descent into the unrecognisable person she became. The person that I had spoken with and discussed music and it's effect on the rest of your life with, did not match this person that I was seeing in front of me in the news and on TV. Not only that, but as her drug use became more prevalent, I became angry at her for wasting and disrespecting the God-given talent that so many (including myself) would kill for. I turned my back on the tabloids, stopped listening to the news stories, and basically switched off from all but the music she churned out, which was so achingly good.

The more I watched, the more shame I felt as I began to understand the story behind the scenes. To hear of her fight with depression, bulimia, her obvious body dysmorphia, and plain insecurities stemming from her relationship with her father, I realised that I, more than anyone, should sympathise with her plight, suffering from each of these at some point in my own life. Amy didn't drink or do drugs for the fun of it; she did them to escape the demons that tormented her mind. I'm Blessed enough to have had a stronger support system around me to prevent my ever contemplating that path; turning to my talents as a coping mechanism instead.

Several times over, we heard recordings of Amy stating that if she ever considered herself famous, that she would kill herself. These were not statements that should have been taken lightly by anyone in her circle. The fact that she openly made those claims - especially so repetitively - should have been a huge cause for concern. Instead, even when those who were worried, like Juliette, who went so far as to steal Amy's passport to prevent her from performing abroad, to try to get her the help that she so desperately needed instead, was met with resistance from people like Amy's manager, and father, who saw a money-making performer first, and a desperate, drug-addicted daughter/client second.

It took far too long for those in the strongest position ie. her parents and manager, to respond to the problems that Amy faced, and by then it was too late. It's easy for me to sit here and point the finger, I wasn't caught up in the melee; but it truly seemed to me, based on the accounts we heard, and even the songs that Amy wrote, both combined to tell us a story that was frankly, in some parts, hard, and shocking to hear. If your drug-addicted daughter/artist begs you to let them out of a show, and goes so far as to risk their lives to get out of it, that should be an indication that they are mentally unfit to handle that activity. To put her passed out body into a car, send her to the airport, and further put her on stage in that state is not looking out for, nor protecting her, in the way that she is desperately begging you to do - and that's a very sad thing

Her support group was divided in a way that it shouldn't have been, and the world was cold, and lacked understanding. As a result, the approaches to handling her and managing her illness were fractured, and thus, ineffective, Those, like Juliette, who really had Amy's best interests at heart could only take a back seat to those in the greatest position of power, and watch, slowly as they did what suited the brand and the label best, with the most tragic of results. Ultimately, Amy is one of millions in this position, and it should give us all pause to think about the person next door, and what they may be going through. We all have an Amy in our lives, it's just a case of recognising the condition they are truly in, as opposed to the one that best suits them, or us, and doing something about it whilst it still matters.

I don't know about you, but watching that film has made me think of a few friends and family that I want to call. See you next week Music Lovers, or Wednesday for your weekly dose of fashion.

Until the next...

Film poster courtesy of