I always love a story that makes me feel, a story in which the protagonist burns so fiercely that you cannot ignore them. As a child I could not get the Karen Carpenter story from my head. Then as a teen it was the 27 club. Later Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf and Sarah Kane would haunt me. So naturally I was drawn towards Amy’s story.
Amy first appeared on my radar the same time as most other people were aware of her (maybe rehab?) I don’t really remember. I do remember making a beeline to see her at Glastonbury though. She was playing the Pyramid Stage and we went to see the inevitable car crash. I didn’t really know much about her other than she was bound to play up. And she did, too trollied to perform and picking fights with the crowd. It wasn’t the experience I expected; I felt like a sick voyeur watching somebody self destruct in the public eye. The spectacle felt wrong and the audience were baiting her for a response. She gave it and we left feeling dirty from the cheap thrills of watching someone fuck up.
Only later did I hear her music properly and appreciate what a unique mesmerising soul she was. She sang from the heart and with such raw emotion, she was clearly one in a million. I fell in love with the story that she was singing. But yet again she was too fierce and burnt too bright. Then the news came that she was dead.
Once again the scrum for her story began and missed the point entirely. It seemed like the world was saying ‘I told you so’. But this was the world who had hunted her down and foreseen the demise and did nothing. In fact the world was egging her on, and I had been part of this.
Then came Amy the film, a well told story using original footage by the director Asif Kapadia. I was glued to every second, Amy is mesmerising in her every moment. Moments captured that are ugly and beautiful. Completely vulnerable yet she commands everyone she meets. A true old soul in a youthful media world. So yes it’s a story, a film constructed to portray a one sided tale (one that has been challenged by others). But when we stop pointing the finger of blame and focus on what Amy was truly about it opened my eyes to her music. Her handwritten songs and naive teenage poems sung with a wise and mature ‘beyond her years’ voice. She says herself she’s happiest when making music.
I love Amy as a hero and someone to look up to. Yes I love the romance of her story and the rebel in her appeals to mine. But what she stands for for me is all the fierce yet vulnerable, damaged yet expressive women out there. I know my creativity continues to save me, I just wish it could have saved her. I would love to hear what music she had left to give us. Love you Amy, I’ll fight on for you.