Amy Winehouse Book Recounts Birth of ‘Rehab’
Singer's father recalls how the star shaped her signature song with Mark Ronson
Mitch Winehouse’s memoir Amy, My Daughter arrives tomorrow, shortly before the one-year anniversary of the British singer’s death. Passages available to the press last week indicated the book isn’t kind to his daughter’s ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil (a.k.a. Blake Incarcerated). Now Rolling Stone has provided a lengthier excerpt that explores the star’s creative processes. Mitch Winehouse writes about how his daughter’s beehive hairstyle was adapted from “some of the Hispanic women she’d seen in Miami” and how she picked up vintage girl-group vinyl records in London’s Camden market for inspiration. He also describes how she met Mark Ronson following her decision to switch management (and mistook him for the engineer, not the producer, in an embarrassing moment), and explains how “Rehab” went from a 12-bar blues song to the ’60s-inspired “jangly” tune that raked in three Grammys in 2008.
According to the book, Ronson connected the dots for Winehouse on “Rehab” by encouraging her to expand on a story she told him about a time when her family scolded her about her alcoholism following a stint in the hospital. Ronson suggested the tale could be translated literally into its opening lyrics, calling the line “You know they tried to make me go to rehab, but I said no, no, no” “quite gimmicky” and “hooky.” “Of course, Amy had written that line in one of her books ages ago,” Winehouse writes. “She’d told me before she was planning to write a song about what had happened that day, but that was the moment ‘Rehab’ came to life.”
Referring to the “Beatles-style” chord progression Ronson suggested, Mitch writes, “Amy was unaccustomed to this style… Most of the songs she was writing were based around jazz chords — but it worked and that day she wrote ‘Rehab’ in just three hours.” The album that won Winehouse five Grammys in 2008 was completed, her father writes, in five months.