It’s been a year since the tragic passing of Amy Winehouse, yet her legacy continues.
The late 2011 release Lioness brought some songs from the vault to light featuring her sultry duet “Cherry Wine” with Nas (he of “Me and Mr. Jones” fame) on his excellent new album, Life Is Good.and Amy’s father, Mitch Winehouse, has released Amy, My Daughter, a gripping book chronicling Amy’s meteoric rise and tragic fall that lead to her untimely death.
Hesitant at first, I remember the “Daddy’s Girl” tattoo on Amy’s upper arm and quickly realised that this is no passing glimpse into the life of a lost talent. Early into Amy, My Daughter, with the notes from Amy to her father and his constant support of his daughter, it’s clear this is no publicity stunt or cash grab.
I’m a big fan of her records and had the pleasure of seeing her play a concert at Toronto’s Mod Club, yet I was not surprised by her death. However her death riddled me with many questions, most notably who allowed the poor girl to take to the stage in Belgrade when she was very obviously in no condition to do so. Amy lived her life out of control and in the public eye following the massive global success of her excellent second album, Back To Black.
Amy, My Daughter does not take long to burrow itself into your skin. It is at the same time a heartbreaking, frustrating and shocking read. Soon enough I found it impossible to put down, knowing the tragic outcome but completely bewildered by the path to it and those in her environs.
One thing this book drove home was that Amy was someone’s daughter, sister, friend or family member, something I think that gets lost in this era of celebrity scandal. Reading about Amy’s wild drug and alcohol-fuelled weekends may make for shocking reading in the tabloids, but this fodder dealt those close to Amy a more heartbreaking hand.
Mitch’s determination to get his daughter the help she so desperately needed made for compelling reading as much as Amy’s determination to get drugs. I’m not a father, but Mitch’s continuous support of his daughter in the face of setback after setback goes against everything I have learned from watching episodes of Intervention. Did Mitch make the right decisions dealing with his daughter’s abuse? Who am I to judge? And he knows this is something he will inevitably ask himself for the rest of his life.
Ultimately, Amy, My Daughter is a gripping look into a good girl who got into some bad, and her family’s struggle to keep her on the right path. The sacrifice Mitch makes largely at the expense of his own personal life with his second wife and family, in the futile pursuit to protect his daughter is heartbreaking.
Yet an undercurrent of hope and real love ripples through every page and was largely the fuel in a battle that I myself might have given up on after page 120. It answered many of the questions I had, but also raised others that won’t be able to be answered now. It will also be cause for a complete re-evaluation of Amy’s lyrical content the next time I visit her catalogue. Or maybe I should just enjoy it for the fine talent the catalogue exhibits.