Friday, July 29, 2011
Goodbye Amy and why I love Russel Brand...
When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. The sincere hope, is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you that they've had enough, that they're ready to stop, ready to try something new.Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative, telling you it's too late, she's gone.
Frustratingly, it's not a call you can ever make, it must be received. It is impossible to intervene...
...As I made my way to the audience through the plastic smiles and plastic cups, I heard the rolling wonderful resonance of a female vocal. Entering the space I saw Amy on stage with Weller and his band; And then the awe. The awe that envelops when witnessing a genius.From her oddly dainty presence that voice, a voice that seemed not to come from her but from somewhere beyond even Billie and Ella, from the font of all greatness. A voice that was filled with such power and pain, that it was at once entirely human, yet laced with the divine. My ears, my mouth, my heart and mind all instantly opened. Winehouse. Winehouse? Winehouse! That twerp, all eyeliner and lager, dithering up Chalk Farm road under a back combed barnet, the lips that I'd only seen clenching a fishwife fag, and dribbling curses now a portal for this holy sound. So now I knew. She wasn't just some hapless wannabe, yet another pissed up nit who was never gonna make it, nor was she even a ten-a-penny-chanteuse enjoying her fifteen minutes. She was a fucking genius.
Shallow fool that I am, I now regarded her in a different light, the light that blazed down from heaven when she sang. That lit her up now and a new phase in our friendship began. She came on a few of my radio and tv shows, I still saw her about but now attended to her with a little more interest.Publicly though, Amy increasingly became defined by her addiction. Our media though is more interested in tragedy then talent, so the ink began to defect from praising her gift, to chroniciling her downfall...In the public perception this ephemeral tittle-tattle replaced her timeless talent. This and her manner in our occasional meetings brought home to me the severity of her condition.Addiction is a serious disease, it will end with jail, mental institutions or death...
Now Amy Winehouse is dead, like many others whose unnecessary deaths have been retrospectively romanticized, at 27 years old. Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today. We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease. Not all addicts have Amy's incredible talent. Or Kurt's, or Jimi's or Janis's, some people just get the affliction. All we can do is adapt the way we see this condition, not as a crime or a romantic affectation but as a disease that will kill. We need to review the way society treats addicts, not as criminals but as sick people in need of care.
We need to look at the way our government funds rehabilitation. It is cheaper to rehabilitate an addict then to send them to prison, so criminalisation doesn't even make economic sense. Not all of us know someone with the incredible talent that Amy had but we all know drunks and junkies and they all need help and the help is out there. All they have to do is pick up the phone, and make the call. Or not. Either way, there will be a phone call.
Russel Brand July 2011