When “Rehab” made Amy Winehouse American famous (you know as opposed to the rest of the world, which doesn’t really count) I wrote her off as bad pop. As a bandwagoneer, I was compelled to listen to her music when she died and joined the “27 club” this July.
How pathetic that she had to die to earn real credibility. There really is no one else who makes her unique genre of music. Had she seen a therapist and successfully made it through rehab a clean and sober Amy, would this music even exist? Its hard to say, not to mention insensitive to speculate. But the push and pull of what made her a media spectacle and punchline is apparently what killed her in the end. Days of stone cold sobriety followed up by binge drinking a frat’s worth of hard liquor in a night killed her early.
The Hidden Treasures is beautiful. Yes, it most likely is a final attempt at record companies cashing in on what recordings they could find of hers, as album sales always soar after the artist dies. She covers her own songs as well as famous songs such as the iconic “Girl from Ipanema,” adding her modern-bad-girl-of-the-fifties foul language and drawl to the track, usually a soft listening classic. She almost mocks the words as she is sings each lyric.
But the best tracks are those that were not recorded for an album and were never planned for release, the original recordings. In “Wake Up Alone,” there is quiet guitar strumming along with an almost stream of consciousness reflective of her final days “So sick of crying/ so just lately/ when I catch myself/ I do a 180/ I stay up cleaning the house/ at least I’m not drinking/ walk around just so I dont have to think about thinking/ That silent sense of content that everyone gets/ Just disappears when the sun sets.” Its sad and melancholy but as beautiful as Audrey Hepburn singing “Moon River,” perched in a windowsill.