Amanda Petrusich has published a think piece in Salon wondering if we loved Amy (if we did) because she was “authentic” and that her life-style validated that authenticity. Interesting. But misses the point. I approach it from the music first, and for me her music was always undeniably authentic. I didn’t crave her self-abuse. I craved her music. Her music may have been impossible if not for her self-destructive nature. Art is funny that way. But I’m not sure how thus makes me (us) complicit. It pains me terribly that she’s gone, actually. I thought she was a wonderful talent and as has been noted elsewhere, she paved the way for others in the same way that Janis did (hello Lilly Allen).
It wasn’t like her music was a straight rip-off of soul music. It was such a new and wonderful hybrid that was her own. Often when you hear cover versions of songs, you’re satisfied with that. I always sought out the original. The Rolling Stones led me to the discovery of Robert Johnson. I appreciated that. There’s a fine line between reverent tribute and straight ripoff. Pat Boone’s Tutti-Frutti made me gag. I didn’t appreciate that. Amy’s music was original (although peripherally, she led me to Sharon Jones for which I’m grateful).
How the press reacts to an artist is how the press reacts. Don’t we know them by now?
The body of music she left us with is far to small for the enormous talent that she could show onstage. That’s the saddest thing of all.