Monday, July 25, 2011


The untimely death of singer/songwriter and musician, Amy Winehouse last Saturday, has shocked the music business and her global network of fans. Sadly, she has become an honorary member of the 27 CLUB; a group of supremely talented individuals, who lost the war, prematurely, against their demons at the age of 27. The list of outstanding curtailed talents includes names like Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and River Phoenix.

The song, REHAB was my first introduction to Amy Winehouse, and I was immediately captivated by the deep velvety tones and quality of a voice, that was reminiscent of Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington; an old-school sound with lyrics, pertaining to the 21st Century. She hit the music scene just at the right moment. The public were tiring of electronically-enhanced versions of the art of singing; of performing. There had been a glut of sugary girl/boy bands, that lacked any real substance and precious little soul, which, with perhaps the odd exception, will almost, certainly not, withstand the passage of time. There hadn't been a female artist that could REALLY sing since Alison Moyet, and now, of course, singer/songwriter Adele, who is mesmerizing listening audiences with her phenomenal singing of soulful songs that she has penned herself; about herself.
Amy was an enormously gifted young person, who was probably born with a pre-disposition for addiction. It was well-reported in the media, that her inability to cope with the pressures of a rock and roll lifestyle and the runaway success of her second album, in particular, led her to fall under the bewitching spell of drugs and alcohol. These habits, disguised, at first in friendship, which promoted relaxation and recreation, slipped off its cloak of amiability, sneakily and craftily, they finally destroyed her.  

Her appearance in Belgrade, Serbia, which was part of her comeback tour, was absolutely pathetic to witness. She was totally incoherent and hadn't a clue what country she was in. For the life of me, I cannot understand, how her minders could allow her to go out on stage in such an abysmal state. She was only a waif, and was in no way able to put up a fight, and could have been dragged out of that theatre, and strapped into a hotel or hospital bed. The plug was pulled on the tour, but no-one could argue that this disasterous appearance, that should NEVER NEVER have happened, did not contribute in some way to her accidentally overdosing or making a conscious decision to end her life, last weekend.

Some of the reactions to the self-distructive exhibition in Belgrade were severely unkind and unsympathetic, but nevertheless understandable. Somehow, it is easier for people to empathise with those suffering with heart disease or cancer, even though alcoholism to take one addiction, is recognized as a DISEASE by the World Health Organisation. I came across a poem five and a half years ago, whilst in rehabilitation myself, for alcoholism, which captures the torture and the isolation of addiction. I apologize for not knowing who wrote this poem, in advance, and should someone recognize the following piece, as their work ... their outpourings of grief and despair, I can only thank you from the bottom of my heart for its inspiration.


I am your disease,
You know who I am - you've called me your friend.
Wishes of misery and heartache I send,
I want only to see that you're brought to your knees,
I'm the devil inside you,
I am your disease.

I'll invade all your thoughts,
I'll take hostage your soul.
I'll become your master, in total control.
I'll maim your emotions,
I'll run the whole game,
'Til your entire existence is crippled with shame.

When you call me I come, sometimes in disguise,
Quite often I'll take you by total surprise.
But take you I will and just as you feared,
I want only to hurt you with no mercy spared.

If you have your own family, I'll see it's destroyed,
I'll steal every pleasure in life you've enjoyed.
I'll not only hurt you, I'll kill if I please;
I'm your worst living nightmare;
I am your disease.

I'll bring self-destruction, but still you can't tell;
I'll sweep you through heaven, then drop you in hell.
I'll chase you forever wherever you go
And then when I catch you, you won't even know.

I'll sometimes lay silent, just waiting to strike,
What's yours becomes mine, cos I take what I like.
I'll take all you own and won't care who sees;
I'm your constant companion;
I am your disease.

If you have any honour, I'll see it's destroyed,
You will lose all your hope and forget how to pray.
I'll leave you in darkness and while blinding you stare;
I'll reduce you to nothing and won't even care.

So don't take for granted, my powers sublime
I'll bend and I'll break you time after time.
I'll crumble your world with the greatest of ease;
I'm that madman inside you;


I am one of the lucky ones! Thankfully, I dug myself out of alcoholism and the extra crushing shame and guilt, that comes with being a WOMAN and a MOTHER, by finally forgiving myself! Without that, I would still be in hell or dead, or perhaps, even worse still ... alive, but without the love of my beautiful family and friends. I am so so grateful, that I never think about, or indeed crave for, a drop of something out of a glass or bottle, to sigh with or to glow with! I hope my admitting to being an alcoholic, albeit in recovery, does not offend. I thought long and hard about it, but somehow, my paying tribute to Amy Winehouse, without mentioning my own addiction, seemed dishonest. It might be argued, that each and every one of us suffers from one form of addiction or another, that might not necessarily manifest themselves in the same way as alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, food, or sex do. Examples of those might be: perfectionism; workaholism; a need to control. By the same token, the diagnosis and prognosis of addiction, like any other disease or illness, should be discussed openly and frankly in the public arena.

I only wish that Amy Winehouse and thousands like her could have been saved. I just hope that wherever she is singing now, she is at peace!


1 comment:

Christopher Kelly said...

Just Read your poem again Maureen... It's beautiful!!