Amy Winehouse died today. Anyone who has read a newspaper, or a gossip column or a tattle rag in the last three years shouldn't have been surprised by this news. She was a train wreck, a cautionary tale, a disaster waiting to happen and everyone knew it. We all knew it. We saw the botched concerts, the pictures of her with red-rimmed eyes and bones with her skin barely clinging to them, and videos of her so addled by drugs and pure excess she didn't know what she was doing. We saw all of that.
And then we would hear her sing.
For a few minutes, a few bars of a song, and sometimes a whole concert, she would be clear and the clarity and sincerity and truth of her voice would rise us up and take us to that place only a few artists can ever truly take us. And we would hold out our hands like four year old children and beg to be taken there. Her voice was a gift and it was simply too big for her to handle. It is a tragedy told over and over again in the worlds of the truly talented.
As an author, another kind of artist, the news was astonishing. I first felt a paralyzing loss in my heart at the tragedy for her parents. Then the true depth of the loss sank in. We have lost her voice. We have many like her, trying to sound the same as her, but there will only ever be one Amy. Just as there was only one Curt and one River and one James and one Chris and one Marilyn and one Diana. Sometimes our world is too cruel and too unkind and too insincere for the truly gifted, the truly precious, the truly special.
So, as an author, as an artist, I mourn Amy. I mourn the music she would have made and the gifts she had left to give the world. I know why she isn't with us and I won't pass judgment. It is what it is. Many articles will be written, dissecting her life and asking questions and supplying answers. I won't do that. I know just how I will feel. Regardless of what she did to end up where she did, I will still miss her. I just want to tell her one thing: Join the choir up there, Amy. I promise, they'll love you.