I have a tortured relationship with time that music soothes and stokes. Without a soundtrack, my brain cannot catalogue experiences. To remember when something happened, I often go through complex contortions trying to recall what I was listening to at the time. And yet a few notes of a memory’s song can conjure a sharpness of detail more like time-travel than recollection.
I had such a moment this week.
It is ten years since Amy Winehouse died. So, the newspapers said. A timelapse of dozens of memories, scored by her unique voice, played in my heart as I read this astonishing fact. I was undone.
We make intimate relationships with certain voices. Voices that hold within them the joys and pains we feel, but deeper than we dare, more bravely than we dare. We turn to them for understanding, comfort, and inspiration, and to celebrate their gift.
Amy Winehouse had one of those voices. With the technical prowess and individuality of tone, pitch, range, and power that define voices labeled ‘unique’. But that was not the heart of its allure. Her delivery makes her voice captivating. Her pacing, word placing, jerky intonation, unpredictable rhythms. She sings what she likes, how she likes. No constraints.
It is impossible to sing along to an Amy Winehouse song, you sound mannered and insincere. And sincerity, — constant, shameless, naked sincerity, — is its essence. We listen, heart-in-mouth because we know we are not able or willing to be that exposed.
Such voices, such spirits, can never die. Their bodies may leave us, sometimes tragically, sometimes triumphantly, always too soon. But the music remains, and so the love affair can continue, sustained by a living, expanding intimacy with their legacy.
My deepening relationship with Amy is rooted in my love for singing Love Is A Losing Game. Every time I sing it, I sing it for her. I hope you like my version.
I started singing this song after watching Asif Kapadia’s testimonial to Amy, a masterclass in documentary filmmaking, that is both beautiful and tragic in every frame – as was she.
Do watch it. Focus on the early footage of her luminous, unbridled talent. Amy’s was a rare gift, that we were very lucky to share.
Yours Hopefully is an experiment in living hopefully. With music and musings, from a singer-songwriter-scientist. Why not subscribe and get a post every Sunday in your inbox?