I cheated myself, like I knew I would.
— Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse has been on my mind lately. July 23rd marked the fourth anniversary of her passing and even here in Poland radio stations have been playing her music in tribute.
It’s hard to separate the Amy Winehouse of everyday, who was a complete mess, and Amy Winehouse, the musician. She wrote a lot about her struggles, candidly documenting her weakness for men, alcohol and other substances. I’ve often shied away from admitting she’s an influence on my own singing, but I don’t think I should any longer. For one thing, I know I’m not like her. And for another, I see her life as an example of how not to live so that, even in death, she is an inspiration to me.
Maybe cautionary tale would be a better term to describe how I feel about Amy.
Amy was consumed by her base hungers and her ill-placed love for a man who served as an instigator for her own addictions. I don’t want to be that kind of person. I think much of why she allowed others to dictate her life was because she was deeply self-conscious and wanted to be taken care of so she wouldn’t have to think about problems herself. That’s not the kind of person I want to be.
Amy never got the chance to change her ways. Her body gave up on her long before she was ready to change and so now she is frozen in time, a specter that will not change or evolve. Thankfully, blissfully I live and I can change. We all can. Each day that we live we have the opportunity to change the way we act or feel or behave. That’s one step forward that Amy Winehouse will never get to take. That’s the biggest tragedy of her death and why I will continue to mourn her for years to come. She didn’t want to die, but she couldn’t continue to live the way that she was living. She could have changed that, but the effort was too much for her. Those of us who want change, welcome renewal, are the lucky ones because we get that opportunity. Let Amy Winehouse be a cautionary tale for all of us.