Saturday, August 29, 2009

Back to Bad-Amy Winehouse/Billie Holiday

The last time I posted on Bad Girl Blog, I said I was done with my bad-girl obsession and was going to focus only on being good from now on. Well, I lied. Turns out that goodness just isn't as fun to write about as bad behavior. So I'm back to bad, at least some of the time. And even when I do write for My Good Girl Blog, there's going to be some bad mixed in.

So. Somehow that makes me think of Amy Winehouse, who I've been thinking about a lot lately, ever since I bought "Back to Black," started listening to it obsessively, and learned that she wrote all the tracks herself. I don't care what anybody else says, I think she's an exceedingly good girl. But she's at war with her demons, which makes her that much more beautiful.

I was similarly obsessed with Billie Holiday when I was younger, and so was sad to hear Amy say "Fuck her" in a 2008 interview when asked if Billie was one of her role models. I didn't believe Amy, anyway. She was probably being defensive because Billie was a poor, alcoholic junkie when she died at the age of 44 in 1959, and Amy's critics think she's headed down the same path of self-destruction, even though she's only 25. (The world is so speeded up these days.)
But you see both of them sing, and you see the same musical brilliance and emotional vulnerability.

The videos below show Amy and Billie singing songs they wrote, and their similarities are plain to see--the way they get lost in the music, their confidence while singing, the bluesy repetition of their self-destructive lyrics about the tragic and addictive gamble of love that makes you hurt.

Here's Amy, in Love Is a Losing Game: "Played out by the band/Love is a losing hand/More than I could stand/Love is a losing hand/Self-professed, profound/Till the chips were down/Though you're a gambling man/Love is a losing hand"

And here's Billie, in Fine and Mellow: "Love will make you drink and gamble/Make you stay out all night long/Love will make you do things/That you know is wrong/Treat me right baby/I'll stay home everyday/But you're so mean to me baby/I know you're gonna drive me away"


maxiu said...

like ur blog.. keep up the good work!

Joyce Hanson said...

Thanks so much, Maxiu. If I could speak Italian, I'm sure I'd like your blog, too!

Anonymous said...

I was totally pissed to hear Amy say that about Billie. I really love Amy but she was nowhere near as amazing as Billie. Sometimes Amy came across as a total sweetheart and other times she could be a total b. I love Back to Black but I doubt she could ever have created another album to match it. She never possessed the depth Billie had. But for what it's worth, I hope she has finally found some peace.

Anonymous said...

Amy Winehouse performed "Ain't Nobody's Business" at the Billie and Me tribute concert back in 2004 and this is what she had to say about Billie Holiday back then:

"As a singer, there is little you can do that Billie did not pioneer. Her range of skills was vast and mostly overlooked, which is why these "Billie and Me" shows are so important."

"Just Billie's intonation alone made her a singer that thousands followed. She never acknowledged a vocal line. All her singing was what she felt rather than what was written. This in itself endeared her to musicians and vocalists alike."

Joyce Hanson said...

Wow, thanks for sharing that 2004 Amy Winehouse quote about Billie Holiday. It's a revelation. Amy W. was such a talent, with artistic intelligence. It's a shame she died so young and couldn't overcome her demons.

Anonymous said...

I hope Mitch Winehouse and the Barbican Centre will come to an agreement regarding the rights to Amy's performance of "Ain't Nobody's Business". I would love to listen to the entire cover. Billie and Amy were both extraordinary singers and I pray they're at peace where ever they are now.

Anonymous said...

“I love Billie singing Autumn In New York, and I love that song The Man I Love.” - Amy Winehouse, 20 years old

Anonymous said...

Amy also performed "Travellin'" and "I'll Be Seeing you" with the rest of the artists at the Billie and Me tribute concert.