Saturday, the first news headline I saw was: “Amy Winehouse found dead at 27”. For some reason, it felt a little more crippling that it was supposed to.
“It was a long-time coming”, is what most say (someone won an iPod by predicting the date on the website whenwillamywinehousedie.com) and maybe it was a long-time coming, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that however you look at it, the music industry has lost a really good singer and one of the most influential artists of the late part of this decade; Lost a voice that embodied what Motown legends were made of; And essentially, if you believe in the oddidy of the so-called Forever 27 Club – we lost another talented musician to the club of dead rock stars — those that never lived to see 28. An age we cautiously outgrow, thinking of their fated (and un-fated) deaths at least once during the age of our own 27th year of life.
Essentially speaking, “27” seems to be rock and roll’s most unlucky number. Sure there are those who have passed at this age due to overdoeses and drug addictions and battles with depression, it’s the age that as we all know now took Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and now the second female in the club, Amy Winehouse.
There are more members of the Forever 27 Club; some died because of medical conditions, car accidents and just plain, weird occurrences, and tragedies. Any way you look at it, it is weird that so many musicians can’t seem to make it to the age of 28. Other members of the Forever 27 Club include: Ron “Pigpen” McKernan of the Grateful Dead, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Chris Bell of Big Star, even Robert Johnson a famous blues musician died at 27, cited for unknown reasons.
The creepiness of the amount of rock stars that die at this age poses the question, what about the age of 27 has put so many rock stars into the ground? Is it behavior we expect from them (abusing drugs and alcohol, making bad decisions, driving drunk, getting on small planes?). Is 27 an exceptionally hard age to live through when you are that famous (mine was a good year, but I am not famous)? Or is it a question of just wanting more and more and more. Twenty-seven is an age, after all that is old enough to be an adult, but still not old enough to understand the world. Although I am not sure that has happened to me yet, and I am 31.
For Amy Winehouse, the tragedy of being part of the Forever 27 Club means not having to slide into a vauge mediocre music choices to keep up with the wretched”singers” who would outsell her lovely, husky sound with computer generated vocals and gyrated movements with snakes and backup dancers.
In her death, she has left us with a small collection of music to take from — all beautiful, all tragic and all for us to keep our arms tight around. From her two Cd’s she inspired a sound that made music a little better, if only for a little while. Her sound brought out the funk and beat of a broken heart in a time when hipster, gothic, hang-yourself love songs were topping the charts, paving the way for singers like Adele, Cee Lo Green and Bruno Mars to get a little funky with broken hearts.
You can hear her fate in the song that made her a household name, “Rehab,” a smart, self-aware song about her struggle with going to get help for drinking, drugs and depression. A fight she would essentially lose.
Winehouse sounded wise and wounded beyond her years. And like Cobain, Hendrix and Joplin, Amy Winehouse’s music had a sense of strength and purpose that she — and they — failed to summon in their own lives.
I hope when I get to the pearly gates one day, I am greeted by the “Forever 27’s”, heaven’s best band ever. Well, either them…or the Beatles.
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