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Rehab

Rehab – Amy Winehouse

I know nothing of Amy Winehouse except those unflattering things i read in magazines on breaks at work, and i’ve heard nothing of Amy Winehouse save for dull 10 second clips i catch in passing on TV commercials. It’s that same soundbite that keeps playing over in my head this morning. Why? I don’t know. So really, on downloading it this morning, this is the first time i’ve ever heard it attentively, and i really do not think it’s that great of a song. This might be the first time i’ve posted a song i don’t like. It’s not an intense, active hate, just polite dismissal in response to something that doesn’t appeal to me. Controversial…

Ok. Maybe i can hate it, and launch myself to an uncomfortable moral highground at the same time. As said, i only know Amy Winehouse by what i read in tabloid magazines, and as virtuous a journalistic platform they are this song, these lyrics, this autobiography, her visible tendencies and behaviour at once celebrated and condemned by public and media all point to someone who may benefit from some kind of rehabilitation. But to benefit, you would have to admit the problem, want recovery and accept help offered, and this song is plainly renouncing that path. So Amy Winehouse has substance abuse problems that cannot and will not be dealt with in the traditional celebrity, public eye appeasing method of the rehabilitation clinic. Stated. It is on the threat of divorce from those things that give her being in her life – music, inspiration, family, friends, relationships both good and harmful – that she denies rehab. Her problems run to a depth she believes incurable through clinical help. Who doesn’t? It sometimes can help.

Her problems. I am not writing about a person here, i am writing about a construct of expectations, from both her status as an r&b/soul singer who lives, breathes then sings the hard life and the horrible tabloid circus of that life we see. All throughout, we pray for her to get cleaned up and have her life, her relationships, everything that drives her to a life she needs rehabilitation from all sorted out. Yet at the same time that life gives fuel and authenticity to her as a musician. Where would she be without this hard living? There comes a purity with the life this character leads to the music she plays, the stories she tells, the soul with which she sings, elevating it to art, to the venerable, to something honourable, to the real. Substance abuse giving substance.

Reviving music associated with so much hard living in its time, to be inattentive to that aspect of it would render the music trivial and erroneous. Amy Winehouse’s precision in capturing and carrying that aspect that gives her a respected place in this music’s canon, possibly above all her evident talent as a musician. It is to this legitimate artistry you can award Mercury music prizes, Grammys and Rolling Stone articles. It is to this music snobs grant their attention and praise. It is to this she is of consequence. This is living, this is compelling, this is romance, this is heart and soul, this is worth, this is life. It is never dying.

It’s unfortunate attention is concentrated to her on this rather than her music, which, while not my cup of tea, she undeniably loves. It’s unfortunate how marketable it all is.

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