Amy Winehouse: “All the Worlds a Stage” But For Some it Becomes a Gallows.

I was going to write the usual moralising pious sermonising twaddle that we bloggers trot out when tragedy strikes.

I could point at what I wrote three and a half years ago and say I told you so.

I could try to rationalise the appaling loss of young life in Norway, and the reasons for it.

I could try and rationalise why on this fine summer morning in this wonderful modern utopian world I can read a paragraph that says: “”Without access to south Somalia, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg — those refugees arriving in Kenya and Ethiopia,” Amaral said. “There are many more — we estimate 3.7 million — that need emergency assistance,” she added.

I could wonder why every day, in this opulent paradise called England I see people condemmned to beg for food and shelter,  by a British government to like to shout about how much foreign aid they send to the country where those destitute people are from.

I could look at todays newpapers, last weeks newspapers, and try to rationalise the amount of coverage all the above stories get, I could try to compare that to the coverage an eighty year old Australian meglomaniac banging his fist on a desk and claiming to be humble like some modern day Uriah Heep before all  24 hour news channels broadcast live pictures of him leaving fair Albion in his private plane gets.

I could do all of this, but it is not so with me.

After the events of the last week, I can’t  get my cognitive ability to stretch much further than the constant refrain from the narrative    Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five set in post firestorm Dresden:

“So it goes”

Amy Winehouse, Birmingham N.I.A. 14 November 2007


It was the worst of gigs, just the worst of gigs. The level of expectation produced by having a ticket for the first gig, in a nationwide tour of all the significant temples of entertainment that populate the land, by the most talented female singer this country has produced in two decades, would normally build into high excitement as the date approached. However 5 days before the date, the tabloids lurched back into overdrive, moving seamlessly from crime watch to suicide watch as the Blake Fielder-Civil (Mr. Amy Winehouse) show ended in incarceration, and an overwhelming sense of dread prevailed. It’s one thing to go to a gig expecting a car crash, and getting one; it’s another to go with that expectation and witness a motorway pile up.

After the last support act finished we were granted a ninety minute wait while an interminable backing tape pumped out monotonously bland R&B for what seemed an eternity, whilst all we had for entertainment was the venue security, a squad of Grant Mitchell look-alikes bristling with radio mikes, swooping on seemingly random members of the crowd like some high-tech press gang, dragging them off into the cavernous side-stage darkness with alarming regularity. Miss Winehouse finally teetered on stage at around ten p.m.; the industrial size beverage that was downed in one before the microphone was approached seemed a sad harbinger of what was to follow. The outlandish beehive of yore now perched like an abandoned rookery, defying gravity against all odds to stand, totem-like, for the full-scale artistic collapse we were about to witness.

It would be churlish to carry on describing in forensic detail the resulting performance, for that would be an unnecessary and self- indulgent exercise in the rhetoric of callous cruelty, except to say whatever the musical shortcomings of Miss Winehouse, they were not shared by her band, who were as polished as black japan and tight as a trap; they played peerlessly, never wrong-footed by the unpredictability of their singer.

Perhaps the predictability of the unpredictability is the issue, because she behaved exactly as most observers were expecting, the audience could see it coming, the media could see it coming, so why would those who no doubt put their invoices in with Germanic efficiency for their slice of the mighty financial cake which Miss Winehouse seems to consistently bake (5 million album sales, new DVD blah blah blah) let her perform in front of thousands while in such a fragile mental state? What kind of career move do they think it is to let her perform a raw emotional autopsy in front of thousands, calling your audience “mug c***s” for buying a ticket because they had the temerity to voice their opinion with boos after having had a cigarette butt flicked at them? Where is the duty of care for her that somebody must have?  How much longer will she be allowed to publicly implode, seemingly abandoned in a compassionless desert, left for tabloid carrion, her musical ability left to wither along with her mental stability?

It would seem for the moment that the financial juggernaut rolls on regardless of who gets hurt when it careers out of control. I just hope very soon somebody puts Miss Winehouse’s welfare first, before we are speaking her name along with Billy Holiday and Janis Joplin as we recall the litany of supremely talented but tragically dead female blues singers we have observed self-destruct. To paraphrase Hunter Thompson from Generation of Swine: “The entertainment business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the music industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men (and women) die like dogs, for no good reason.”

Get some sleep Amy….


2 thoughts on “Amy Winehouse: “All the Worlds a Stage” But For Some it Becomes a Gallows.


    I’ll be honest, I loathed the music of Amy Winehouse. I once aquired her first LP, played it once, then gave it away. I never particulalrly rated her singing voice (with all apologies to her legions of mourning fans who doubtless would defend it). There’s no accounting for personal taste. That said, I liked her fashion sense, her hairstyles, her tattoos, and I could empathise to some extent with her nihilism. I was angered when I saw the gutter press mauling her like dogs, and pursuing her as if she was a fox with the likes of Murdoch at the helm of the hunt.

    The media circus has a lot to answer for. I’m reminded hugely of Paula Yates who also fell foul to the same type of treatment by the press, which they in turn lashed out upon Winehouse. I was sitting in the countryside in front of a teepee discussing punk group THE GERMS when my friend received a text that Winehouse was dead, and a group of us sat in the sunshine and let the announcement hang in the air for a few minutes.

    Then someone uttered “Well, it doesn’t come as a surprise really”, and I ruminated and wondered whether her passing had come as a surprise to me or not. What I felt very much was that unlike the Stiv Bators, Sid Vicious’s, Kurt Cobains, and Darby Crash’s of the music industry, whose lifestyles all influenced their untimely demises, they were united with their punk fans with some sense of social isolation/rejection, if not total ostracision from the mainstream, but I’m not convinced that Winehouses’s audience were able to empathise with her very much at all.

    I eventually went home and listenened to THE PLASMATICS, and contemplated Winehouse joining the so called ’27 Club’, and tried to recall who I was and what I was doing when I was 27. It wasnt much of an age to live to. Bless her.

    I didn’t even hear about the Norway massacre until Monday, and then that twisted everything, and I was minded how young some of the victims of Breivik actually were. Gunned down by a self obsessed extremist who subscribes to a self validating belief system, rather like the 7/7 bombers. How much they all have in common with each other. It’s a paradox. Actually these people are a contradiction in terms, rather like suicidal fantasy, or perhaps even military intelligence.

    So I send my condolences out to the friends and families of anyone who lost a loved one over the weekend, from Camden to Oslo and as far as Somalia.

    There’s not much in the way of object permanence on the Earth. Life’s very precious This is not a rehearsal.

    “Punk is a state of mind, not a type of music” – Sid Vicious (1978)

    I’ve even heard tell that life’s a witch and then you fly…….


    1. strummerman Post author

      Very succinctly put Lloyd, the press has much to answer for, perhaps best summed up by this clip:

      “I would apologise to them if I could…but they’re all dead!”

      If there is any statement that encapsulates the hypocritical moral vacuum the gutter press operate in, then that is it. Oh, and if anybody wants to run the “we only give the public what it wants” argument, then that option would a) justify dealing heroin to kids and telling them it tastes of ice cream, and B) ensure we would be living in a country where capitol punishment was a spectator sport.

      As I said elsewhere “a Mucmullen” might shortly become a by word for the most morally repugnant, loathsome, reprehensible, odious wretch ever to keep a journal.

      I share Lennon’s view that “ what ever gets you through the night, its alright” as far as any ideology or life style goes, till it/they seeks to justify its own existence by needing to prove its superiority over other lifestyle choices by perpetrating harm to others.

      As Bob said:

      “ You don’t need a weatherman
to know which way the wind blows

      Twenty years of schoolin’

      And they put you on the day shift

      Don’t follow leaders

      Watch the parkin’ meters”


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