What Amy Winehouse Taught Us about Originality

Today marks what would have been the 33rd birthday of the one and only Amy Winehouse. The artist's music was an eclectic blend of jazz, soul, and R&B that combined with her raw, honest lyrics to create music that would resonate within the hearts of anyone who heard it. While the world lost Amy 5 years ago, her strength and her story live on through her music.



In an interview with CNN in 2007, Amy described how after a relationship, we tend to go back to what we know. For Amy, this meant throwing herself into music. "I wasn't working, so I couldn't go and throw myself back into work, I didn't really have anything to go back to so, I guess I went back to a very black few months." (CNN) Sometimes the best heart therapy is simply keeping yourself busy. But distraction doesn't work forever, healing is a process, and you have to know darkness to eventually recognize the light. 



"She was so utterly authentic"  -AMY, 2015

Amy Winehouse spent years struggling with drug addiction and depression. In many conversations about psychological health, people have discussed music as being a driving influence in getting rid of society's stigma associated with mental health. Amy was open about her struggles, and in response to questions about her Album, Back to Black, she expressed how songwriting was a means of dealing with depression (Fader). Through her music, Amy made it clear that she went through pain, and she was unafraid to show it.



"If anything is missing from the way we as a culture remember Amy Winehouse...it's her wit" -Fader, 2016

From her debut album, Frank, Amy winks at "wannabe footballers' wives of the early 2000s in a series of cutting couplets," (NME). We tend to mourn Amy Winehouse as a tortured soul, and forget the strength and wit that she had while fighting her demons. Even songs like Rehab that deal with a serious issue like drug addiction was written in mockery of Amy's former manager who tried to influence her to go to rehab. 


"It's impossible not to be seduced by her originality." -Josh Tyrangiel, TIME 2007

What people loved about Amy the most was probably her unapologetic attitude. Whether it was through her music, an interview, or a stage performance, her vibes were organic and she was always her true self. Just as the rest of her songs are, You know I'm No Good was honest and uncensored as Amy tells a story of adultery and the complex feelings that come with it. "I guess people know that I don't really do what I'm told to do, or that I don't really care enough about what people think of me to conform to anything." (CNN) 



Amy wrote this song about fellow legendary artist Nasir Jones. She and Nas shared their September 14 birthday and became close just before her death. Their project, Me & Mr. Jones Part 2, was never finished, but Nas did release Cherry Wine in her honor using recorded vocals that her manager confirmed she wrote specifically for him. 


Her autobiographical lyrics shamelessly told her stories of love, breakup, adultery, depression, and more, completely unfiltered. As she's repeated in many interviews, she didn't, "write songs because I want to be famous...I write songs about things that I have to get past...I have to make something good out of something bad." (MTV)



Happy Birthday, Amy