"It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."
-James Joyce, "The Dead," Dubliners
Also, I stole Warren G. Harding's campaign promise for the title of today, but before I get to that, I did want to say a few things about Amy Winehouse.
For those that haven't heard for whatever reason, the singer died on Saturday at the age of 27. Seems to be a popular age for musicians. And before I say more, I should also say that I obviously didn't know Miss Winehouse personally, and I am also aware of Never Speak Ill of the Dead. Furthermore, it should also be noted that this isn't really about her. She clearly had some demons without the means to cope with them in a healthy fashion.
It always happens when somebody dies, especially celebrities. Even celebrities who aren't famous for much. Do a search for Winehouse on CNN. There are a ton of hits remembering her after she's died. Far, far more than when she was alive. The internet was ablaze with these types of stories. Here's one from Grantland, as an example. Here's my thing: she was much more famous as an addict than she was as a musician. Why is she suddenly the most important thing to happen in music in the last ten years?
She put out two albums. They got a lot of critical acclaim, though the first one, Frank, did very little in the US until her "signature" album, Back to Black, was released. Black did well, hitting number one on many charts, peaking at number two in the States. That album produced five singles. "Rehab" was the big one, peaking at number nine in the States. The other songs really didn't do much. All failed to chart in the US, except "You Know I'm No Good" (peaking at 77).* So, essentially what we have here is a one-hit wonder who is being lionized because she died young.
*"Tears Dry on Their Own" charted at 40 on Billboard Hot Adult R&B Airplay, but I was only taking the general singles chart into account.
I'll admit that I didn't like "Rehab" as a song. Just not my thing. I'm not going to complain about that. But, as alluded to earlier, we're going to make a queen out of a woman who sang about refusing to go to rehab for her drug problems, then stayed in the news for her continued drug and alcohol abuse, and soon afterwards died from said abuse?* It's sad she couldn't kick the habit, but let's not make her into some sort of hero. I'm sure if Amy Winehouse had never had her hit, Adele** would have done just fine. Plus, she's three times the signer and ten times the role model.
*The toxicology reports haven't come back yet, but I think we would all be shocked if there weren't some substances that made a huge contribution to her death. Most 27-year-olds don't just drop dead without help.
**That seems to be the argument that a lot of these articles are making. Winehouse revitalized British music and paved the way for Duffy and Adele. I don't know Duffy, but I do like Adele.
It just rings hollow to me to have all these glowing obits written about a singer who spent most of her public life being trashed in tabloids for her lifestyle. Don't act nice now. I wasn't a Winehouse fan, but I think I would be a little upset if I were seeing various media sources falling over themselves for the past few days to say the nicest things they can about her in death when there was no way that would be afforded in life.
For future reference, when I die, feel free to say what you think about me. We all ought to lie in the bed that we made. If I was a major asshole to you, don't be afraid to say so. I've tried to live a good life, I think most will have good things to say. But, if not, well, that's the consequence of the choices I've made.