Skip to main content

Where did all the soul go?

To the UK, apparently. Last year it was Amy Winehouse's deep and brassy voice that entered the musical consciousness of Americans, and made us remember that there ever was such a style as soul. Her album, Back to Black, is largely a throwback to 60's Rhythm and Blues sounds, although some songs, such as "You Know I'm No Good," are "enhanced" with modern pop beats.

I first learned about Winehouse while catching the tail end of a late night talk show one night. The now nauseating, if not still catchy, song "Rehab" was being performed by Winehouse and her male backup singers/dancers. I was instantly drawn to the song and the stage performance, and I soon thereafter purchased her album. It seems that in the next few months, the rest of America was hooked as well, and what became her anthem song, "Rehab," (in which she protests going to rehab) also made her the butt of many a joke, for the formerly stoned diva could not personally receive her FIVE Grammy awards because she was, in fact, unable to leave her new rehab facility.

Later last year, Winehouse's first album, Frank, was released in the US. The images inside the CD program are shockingly different from the Winehouse we see in the later album photos, which is clearly a testament to the sadly addictive lifestyle she plummeted into. In one photo on the Frank album, Winehouse looks nearly pristine, like the girl next door, whereas more recent photos portray a more strung-out, emaciated Winehouse, always sporting her signature black, tattered beehive hairdo.

So what happened? Is this the price of being a phenomenal soul artist?

Perhaps we will see in the coming years with the newest UK breakout star, [Aimee] Duffy. So far her public image is a striking contrast to Winehouse's, save for the mod eye makeup and occasional mini-beehive. It is too easy to compare the two soul songstresses, for they both embrace a similar retro style of music which is complimented by sultry voices full of depth and range.

But Duffy's breakout album, Rockferry, is notably different in its content than either of Winehouse's. While her subject matter does largely include spurned lovers like Winehouse's (what artist's songs don't?), there is an element of self-preservation and refinement that is nowhere to be found in Winehouse's songs. But perhaps it is the very raw and unwholesome nature of Winehouse that people find so intriguing. She continues to publicly crash as her public continues to hope for her recovery. Meanwhile, newbies like Duffy will continue to put out albums that leave the listener feeling less grimy, shamed, and hungover, and more inspired, nostalgic, and even uplifted, as track 10 of Rockferry, "Distant Dreamer" connotes.

Comments

bryon said…
That article could have been on the onion's av club. nice one! \m/
Fantastic post, Lee! I couldn't agree more about your Amy Winehouse observations, and I look forward to checking out Rockferry!
Lee Davidson said…
RIP, Amy Winehouse.

People Liked to Read...

Surgery Chronicles: 12 Weeks and Progress

I'm now more than 12 weeks recovered from my second (and final!) foot surgery, and life is starting to feel a little more normal. When I last wrote an update, seven weeks ago (still blaming Irma for all of my delays), I had just gotten off of crutches but would wear my boot for two more weeks. I've been out of the boot and walking in shoes for just over five weeks. The constant discomfort I've felt in my foot from swelling is finally starting to wane. I work in the office now, I do my own groceries, and I even attended a work conference recently, which meant lots of walking at airports and the conference hotel, frequent standing, and few opportunities to elevate and ice. I was very concerned about how my feet, particularly the left one, would endure. And while it wasn't comfortable, I made it through, no worse for the wear in the end.

I joined a new gym/community center recently, with a new and beautiful outdoor pool, and I'm so happy that I'm able to use it n…

Irma: A (Mostly) Photo Essay

For nearly three weeks I've struggled to find the right words to write about Hurricane Irma, which destroyed islands in the Caribbean, then hit South Florida, eventually coming up the center of the state. The Tampa Bay region got really lucky in the end, as it avoided a direct hit and the storm had diminished to a category 2 by the time it arrived. And now Puerto Rico is experiencing a humanitarian crisis after being pummeled by Hurricane Maria. My heart goes out to those people.

My plan when severe weather is forecast to for Tampa is always to go to my sister's house, as the area I live in is highly flood prone and she is on higher ground. This time was no exception; however, her plan was different. She wanted to leave, head north, get out of the state, and she wanted me to go with her and the rest of the family. But I was not in a place to pack up and leave. I had real concerns about my foot recovery; I was about eight weeks post-surgery and very newly out of the boot and in…

Surgery Chronicles: I Exhale

I've really been holding my breath with this recovery, more so than the last one for some reason. After getting past the three-week point (which was two weeks ago, when I started to write this), I felt a little more at ease. Since then I've been changing my own dressing daily and slowly weaning off of crutches so I can now walk around in the boot—hands-free! I'm still a slave to icing and elevating as much as possible throughout the day. But the very best part? There's no other foot left to do. After this, I'm done, done, done. I can start to return to a life not defined by sitting and waiting and feeling confined and limited and trying my hardest to heal but having little actual control over any of it.

I wrote in my last post about the difficult emotions I'd been having throughout this second surgery recovery. I think I underestimated the psychological toll I would take doing one foot right after the other. And while there was a feeling of elation after gettin…