The following remembrance was written in the days following Amy Winehouse’s death on July 23, 2011. To mark the anniversary of her passing, we’ve republished this piece along with SPIN‘s cover story on Winehouse, which originally ran in the magazine’s July 2007 issue.
It’s inevitable, really, that we’d eventually choke a bit on the rock mythology that’s been crammed down our collective throats for most of our lives. The tortured genius, the hellion libertine, the martyr dying for the noble cause of nihilism — this is what we usually mean when we say “rock star,” and we’re always on the hunt for fresh blood. And truth be told, that sort of bloodlust accounted for much of the initial, explosive response to Amy Winehouse in early 2007. The natural ability was never up for debate; combine that with an equally natural self-destructive bent, and the ensuing reception was predictably breathless. Not proud of this, but it’s how your myth-making sausage gets made.
Let’s acknowledge, firstly, the folly of a media outlet reducing an artist, on the day after her death, to a product of her media coverage. But it’s all we can speak to with any real perspective, and moments like these call for perspective, however limited and strained. So, apologies. None of this is meant as a slight on Winehouse’s talent; others will put that in proper context, and with better skill than I could hope to. Plus, the few days I spent with her for SPIN’s cover story in 2007 were by no means an organic way of getting to know someone, but given the speed and force with which things began to unravel, I don’t take that opportunity lightly. It’s patently unfair to draw conclusions now about Winehouse’s doomed life from that brief, highly orchestrated experience nearly four-and-a-half years ago, but what’s the alternative?
By mid-April 2007, Winehouse’s reputation was already in full bloom, but hadn’t taken its dark turn yet, not publicly. She was still a roaring, tippling mess, a clutch of indulgences, garnering cheers every time she sipped from whatever was in the cup by her mic stand, a throwback in terms of music, fashion, and wholesale lack of concern over cultivating a debauched Rat-Pack image in a decidedly non-Rat-Pack age. (When I met Winehouse’s publicist, she downplayed the nascent bad-girl rep, saying the singer was no different from any 23-year-old girl who liked going out for an apple martini or two. Maybe this was typical spin, wishful thinking, or professionally-mandated denial. Most likely all of the above.)
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It’s inconceivable to think that the frantic spring of 2007 was actually the high-water mark. But the story quickly went from rising talent to wasted talent and ended there. Coachella that year was a coming-out party; just on my watch, Jarvis Cocker, Danny DeVito, and Ron Jeremy sought her out for a handshake and a kind word, which she accepted with indifference. Of course, indifference to the adulation of others is an artful pose, as much a part of the handbook as the hard-living sloppiness that we simultaneously laud and chide. There’s not a lot of dignity in looking like you want it. When she said she didn’t understand why a magazine would put her on the cover, she wasn’t being humble; she really didn’t understand, and explaining didn’t help. When we decided to put her on the cover, it felt like an exciting risk; by the time the issue actually hit stands a month and a half later, it was the second of its kind that week. Why was she barely worth talking about in December and the most fawned-over pop phenom in the world in April? And why was she of all people expected to have an answer for that? She was filling a role we needed her to fill, but it wasn’t the one she applied for.
Writing a profile of someone often entails forced intimacy, drinking beer, shooting pool, etc.; neutral locations are pre-arranged by interested parties. It is, more often than not, a negotiated, calculated transaction (there are also blunter terms for this). I can scarcely think of anyone I’ve ever spoken to at length who I felt less connected to, or who was less interested in having her brain picked than Winehouse; and sometimes that’s just how it goes. Bringing an interview subject an icebreaker gift is manipulative, but it also sometimes works. In the hopes of cracking her ambivalence or combatting concerns that we were just there to watch the wheels pop off the train, I gave her a copy of the Rhino soul artifacts box set What It Is! as an instant peace offering, attempting to say, “See? Music!” That she wound up leaving the thing in her trailer unopened could be interpreted several ways, none useful. It’s enough that she just didn’t give a s—t one way or another; that was an undeniable indication of what would follow.
But I don’t believe, ultimately, that her ambivalence was, or is, an entirely moot point. As far as it concerns a writer doing a magazine story, sure. But the problem — the problem, really — was the degree to which that ambivalence seemed to take hold so quickly and decisively. At that particular moment, the immediate concern was dependency, but not on any substance so much as on boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil. He’d been around only a few weeks, and they’d be married in a few more, but his power to distract her seemed superhuman. It’s no one’s fault that she was more interested in being with Fielder-Civil than in talking to a reporter, or even singing onstage, but the message given off was hard to miss: She didn’t need any of this, and it could all go away as quickly as it came and she’d be fine. She didn’t share our excitement. You don’t write songs, much less sing them, the way she did without caring deeply, without tapping into the tough spots. It’s called soul music, it doesn’t wear diffidence or emotional disengagement well. Whether drugs were the symptom or the cause of that disengagement could not be less relevant. It’s the difference between being cool and being cold.
It was awkwardly amusing watching the blissful couple dry hump on the floor of a photo studio while Terry Richardson clicked away and a dozen other people tried to figure out whether to stare or flee the building. Richardson had an assistant break a mirror into shards as a prop, and Winehouse knew how to play along, carving her beloved’s name into her torso for maximum skeeve. It was cute, yet it also wasn’t cute. British journalists rang me up asking for comment about “Amy’s latest self-harm shocker,” and it was hard to know if we had suddenly become, via Richardson’s provocation, just another careless contributor to a media horde stoking the tabloid flames. I’m not sure there’s much comfort to be found in the answer to that question. My parents saw her in a Soho restaurant just a few days after our last interview and my father, bless him, introduced himself and said his son was writing about her for SPIN. She was polite, but there was also a sense that she had no idea what he was talking about.
“Rehab” was a true story — her managers tried to get her to clean up, so she fired them and hired people who promised not to. Concerns about Fielder-Civil, at least back in 2007, were practical ones. People were being paid to keep things moving, and his very presence brought everything to a dead halt. But young love — what can you do? Maybe the key to his ability to distract her was her desperate need to be distracted. All I know is that she said she just wanted to talk about the music, only she didn’t really want to talk about the music.
Winehouse had some encouraging moments after fame firmly took hold, but a brief glimpse at the headlines post-May 2007 shows a lot more bad news than good. The live meltdown clips multiplied over time, and I never understood their LOL value. In addition to being the world’s most effective anti-drug PSAs, her botched, slurry performances looked like ambivalence left dangerously unchecked. Lovely that people are hailing Back to Black right now as the marvel it is, and if the album, rather than those clips, winds up being her true legacy, that would be a great victory. I have my doubts.
The recurring theme in all this is that the tragic news is somehow mitigated by the fact that it’s unsurprising, or that people who squander talent and fortune and bring about their own demise are less deserving of sympathy. I would argue the exact opposite — what makes this so horribly, irredeemably sad is that we watched one of the brightest talents of a generation give up and give in, in real time, and no one could stop her.
— Steve Kandell, July 2011
It’s 2 a.m. and I’m waiting for Amy Winehouse in the lobby of the Soho Grand wearing a slice of tomato on my head. She bet me $100 that I couldn’t walk to the bar across the street without it falling off, but just as we were leaving, she made an unannounced detour to her room. That was a half hour ago, and to be honest, I’m starting to feel like an ass.
Finally, the elevator opens and Winehouse steps out — a leaning tower of raven-black hair, supported, barely, by a wisp of a body — and sighs when she sees me. I follow her onto Grand Street, my head tilted high like a runway model. Seeds dripping into my eyes, I am the picture of poise and dignity, mere steps away from earning my bounty. Then she slaps me on the back of the head, sending the tomato slice to the sidewalk.
“Oops.” Winehouse smiles impishly and bats her Cleopatra eyes like she knows it’s enough to keep her out of trouble.
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So far, it has been. But since her brassy retro-soul album Back to Black and its unapologetic ode to overindulgence “Rehab” came out of nowhere this spring to go gold and counting, Winehouse has garnered a CV that any rooster-haired, skinny-jeans-clad rocker might covet: problem-drinking, scandalous romances, coke-nostril gotcha shots in U.K. tabloids, wince-inducing weight loss, Us Weekly photo ops with Paris and Perez, and a refreshingly unpolished don’t-give-a-f—k attitude toward all of the above. Three years ago she was an innocuous, girl-next-doorish, virtually tat-free, full-figured neo-jazz crooner with middling sales and no American distribution — now she’s Sid Vicious. Music’s most authentic punk is a 23-year-old white Jewish girl from the London suburbs who sings like a lost Supreme.
Winehouse walks into the bar, Toad Hall, hand in hand with her fiancé of two weeks, Blake Fielder-Civil, 23. He’s the one with the week-old AMY tattoo behind his right ear and the Amy-as-mermaid on his right forearm that he got just four days ago. In a porkpie hat and Fred Perry polo shirt with the short sleeves rolled up, he knows a thing about impish smiles himself. (Two weeks from now, they will marry in Miami, and they were still married at press time.) Blake and Amy have matching crisscross scars and scratches up and down their left arms, presumably from a misbehaving house cat. The hickey on her neck looks fresh, and she’s missing at least one important tooth (reportedly thanks to a drunken spill in London last March). Her sparkling engagement ring barely obscures a tattoo of the letter A, for her last boyfriend, Alex. When Amy Winehouse is not onstage performing, she is making out with Blake Fielder-Civil, Nancy to her Sid.
The jukebox is broken, so Winehouse commands the bar’s iPod — with the exception of Nas and Mos Def and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, she doesn’t want to have much to do with anything post-1960s funk and doo-wop. “I don’t listen to a lot of new stuff,” she says, thick accent tripped up by the hint of a stutter. “I just like the old stuff. It’s all quite dramatic and atmospheric. You’d have an entire story in a song. I never listen to, like, white music — I couldn’t sing you a Zeppelin or Floyd song.”
Fielder-Civil marches to the pool table in the back and writes his name on the board. One of the guys currently playing is bald, in his 20s, and seemingly hammered. “Hey, you know who you look like?” he asks Fielder-Civil. “You ever see Can’t Hardly Wait? You look like that guy from Can’t Hardly Wait.”
Fielder-Civil shrugs and takes a seat. He’s charming and smooth, eager to talk about Don DeLillo, less so about his pending assault charge back home. And he’s helpful enough to suggest that wearing a tomato on one’s head might not be the best way to earn someone’s respect.
“Ethan Embry! That’s his name. Ethan Embry. He was in Can’t Hardly Wait. Anyone ever tell you that you look like Ethan Embry?”
“No. No one. Anyone ever tell you that you look like Moby?”
Everyone laughs, albeit a bit uncomfortably. The bald guy continues to yammer to his friends about Ethan Embry. Fielder-Civil whispers into my ear cheerily, “Tell the guy who looks like he has leukemia I’m going to slit his throat.”
Though they’ve been involved on and off for two and a half years — much of that while dating other people — Winehouse and Fielder-Civil have only been back together for a month, and they are in the grips of some intense puppy love. Most of the songs on Back to Black are about their tortured romance and the self-abuse it inspired, but they are visibly enjoying its current, decidedly nontortured status. To be around them is to stare at the ground uncomfortably while they grope and wipe saliva on each other — or alternatively, as increasingly seems to be the case, to gawk and take pictures. They couldn’t give a f—k either way. The name BLAKE on the chalkboard has been amended; it now reads, AMY ♥ BLAKEY BIG BOLLOCKS.
Considering that Winehouse’s previous album, 2003’s Frank, was never released in the U.S. and that she was virtually unknown here before March, she must be taken aback by the alarming speed at which things have taken off, but she doesn’t act like it. Three days ago she played her biggest American show to date, at a packed-beyond-capacity Coachella tent just before sundown. And though every rock act in the universe would be appearing at some point during the weekend, her arrival — delayed though it may have been — created the most palpable buzz.
She makes diva music, but Winehouse couldn’t have looked less like one as she stepped onstage, wearing a white wife-beater and denim shorts that may well have been made for a nine-year-old. She strutted barefoot, and every time she took a sip of her drink, the crowd whooped appreciatively. Windswept, slept-on, and quite possibly ashed-into beehive notwithstanding, she looked no different from any other kid out getting wasted in the sun.
As celebrity well-wishers go, she seems to have a type: Before she took the stage, she was ambushed by Danny DeVito, who somehow managed to say he was “a huge fan” without anyone giggling. And immediately after her set, as she was rushing into the van that would bring her back to her trailer, there was this encounter:
“Amy, I’m Ron Jeremy. I just want to say I love you. You were great.”
“Oh, wow, thank you! This is my fiancé, Blake.”
“You’re a lucky man, Blake. Amy, if you ever get tired of this guy, you should give me a call!”
Winehouse cocked her head a little and climbed into the van. “F—k off.”
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Of Amy Winehouse’s many tattoos, the most clever is the pocket over her left breast (right below the word BLAKE’S). But the most noticeable might be DADDY’S GIRL on her left arm. Her father, a taxi driver named Mitch, is coming to see her in Toronto next week, and she can’t wait. “We’re good friends,” she says, playing with a bowl of tortellini and escarole soup at an outdoor café in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood in early May, hours before her show at the Highline Ballroom. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about and neither do I.”
Winehouse grew up in Southgate, a suburb north of London (also home to posh rehab facility the Priory), until age nine, when Mitch and her pharmacist mom, Janis, split up. She was sent off to — and summarily kicked out of — a series of schools. She then won a scholarship to the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School in London, only to be kicked out of that, as well. “I was just disruptive, I suppose,” she says, without elaboration. “I loved school and I loved learning, but things piled up, I guess.”
Formal training or not, Winehouse was a quick study when it came to performing. At ten, she was the Sour to her best friend Juliette’s Sweet in the Salt-N-Pepa–inspired tween-rap outfit, er, Sweet ‘N’ Sour. By 15, she was singing in jazz clubs, having been weaned on Dinah Washington, Tony Bennett, and Sarah Vaughan by Mitch and her older brother, Alex. Simon Fuller’s 19 Management — the folks who brought us Spice Girls and American Idol — snapped her up, and a producer’s demo featuring Winehouse on vocals turned into an obsession for Island Records A&R man Darcus Beese. “I snuck into the 19 offices to find out who was handling her, because they were keeping her a secret,” he recalls. “I never heard a woman who lyrically put the s—t together like she did, and I had to have her, so we did the deal. She’s Etta James, she’s Aretha Franklin, she’s Mahalia Jackson, she’s Courtney Love.”
Frank was released in the U.K. in October 2003, and though it may sound much more like contemporary R&B than Back to Black, the album still had enough brazen chutzpah in songs like “In My Bed” and “F—k Me Pumps” to sell around 300,000 copies. Nearly two years later, however, there was no sign of a follow-up; Winehouse was partying more and writing less, caught up in the turmoil with Fielder-Civil and starting a new relationship.
“It wasn’t because she couldn’t write songs,” Beese says of this fallow period. “She just didn’t have the subject matter to write about. She had to live it before she could write it.”
There was a stark physical transformation as well — she gained a dozen or so tats, lost a couple of dress sizes — but Winehouse insists her metamorphosis was strictly a matter of taste. “I stopped listening to jazz and hip-hop, and started listening only to ’60s music. That’s pretty much it,” she says adamantly. Mitch Winehouse has publicly stated that he personally prefers his daughter’s previous appearance but trusts her to take care of herself.
The oft-told story has it that 19 didn’t think her lifestyle change was quite that simple and wanted to pack her off for alcohol treatment, an invitation she famously declined. She then switched to a more tolerant management team, but it wasn’t until Winehouse met 31-year-old London-born, New York–based DJ and producer Mark Ronson that she found the throwback sonics perfectly suited to her stark new confessionals.
“She thought I was going to be some older Jewish guy or something,” Ronson recalls. “I don’t know if she thought I’d be like Rick Rubin or maybe Leonard Cohen. We listened to everything, like Earl and the Cadillacs and the Angels, and just started talking the way music geeks do when they get together.” The next day Ronson came up with the foundation of what would become the record’s title track, a midtempo weeper about getting wasted because the man she loves won’t leave his girlfriend. (Another apparent obstacle to the relationship: “You love blow / And I love puff.”)
“I write songs because I’m f—ked in the head and need to get something good out of something bad,” Winehouse says. “There were things I couldn’t say to [Blake], but I never thought, ‘This would be a great song. Who’s going to hear this?’ I thought, ‘F—k, I’m going to die if I don’t write down the way I feel. I’m going to f—king do myself in.’ It’s nothing spectacular.”
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Ronson couldn’t disagree more — he thinks it’s her raw honesty that makes her spectacular and that that’s why people are responding to the album. “How are you going to tell me Ashanti is more useful than Amy Winehouse?” he says. “Kids have been force-fed this homogenized teeny-bopper R&B, but Amy’s stuff is so much more relatable to a 21-year-old going through a breakup or whatever. People forget that those ’60s girls, like the Shangri-Las, were really subversive at the time: things like ‘My boyfriend left me and I want to kill myself’ or ‘He hit me and it felt like a kiss.’ It was rebellious music then, and that’s what Amy’s doing now. That’s why I think it should sound aggressive.”
That aggression is provided largely by New York–based R&B backing band the Dap-Kings, who are on the road with Winehouse now and appear on the six tracks Ronson produced. (Salaam Remi, who helmed Frank, handles four songs.) The result is familiar yet shocking — old-timey horns and rhythms backing straight-talk sentiments like “I should just be my own best friend / And not f—k myself in the head with stupid men.” Universal Republic signed Winehouse in the U.S., and Back to Black debuted at No. 7 — the highest opening position for a British female solo act ever… until a fellow Brit, blue-eyed soulstress Joss Stone, trumped her one week later. The album has barely dipped since.
Prince is dying to cover her, Lily Allen picks fights with her. Long before Britney Spears got her hands on electric clippers, the jig was up for the last crop of prepackaged pop tarts — look, there’s Hilary Duff’s latest, well south of Back to Black on the Billboard charts. We don’t want the freshly scrubbed myth right now, we want rough-around-the edges reality, and edges don’t get rougher than Amy Winehouse’s. She is a demographic perfect storm: The rock crowd loves the attitude and the look. (“A lot of practice, a lot of back-combing and hair spray,” Winehouse says of her voluminous ‘do.) The hip-hop audience responds to the hosannas from the likes of Ghostface Killah, who raps a verse on “You Know I’m No Good.” Boomers are drawn to the familiar musical tropes.
For all this, Winehouse largely has “Rehab” to thank. It has already reached a near-“Hey Ya!” level of ubiquity, yet the song has only recently been officially released as a single, complete with a new verse courtesy of superfan Jay Z. Six months from now, after your aunt has already picked up a copy of Back to Black as an impulse buy while ordering a caramel Frappuccino, half the cool kids who packed into the tent at Coachella to see Winehouse will turn up their noses at the mention of her name and swear they were across the field watching Silversun Pickups at the time. (If you don’t feel like waiting that long, the T-shirts at her merch table read I HATE AMY WINEHOUSE.)
And the guy who caused all the inspirational misery and heartache is again in the middle of it all. “We were always close, but we got to the point where it was hurting other people for us to keep seeing each other….” Winehouse’s voice trails off a little, then perks back up. “It just made sense for us to be together. I’m still singing about it every night on my knees, crying onstage. But when I’m with him, I feel like nothing bad can happen. I can’t explain it.”
She doesn’t need to — the attraction’s hard to miss. Primping and preening and making friends with a giant rooster at her SPIN photo shoot, she avoids getting burnt-out during the long session by taking many bathroom breaks, then later checks her nose in a shard of broken mirror. Fielder-Civil, who’s worked as a production assistant on music videos and commercials, documents the afternoon with a video camera, and Winehouse’s face visibly brightens every time he enters her line of vision — everyone and everything else cease to exist, including the photographer. Between setups, Fielder-Civil lands this exclusive interview:
BLAKE: What’s been the highlight of the day so far?
AMY: Five minutes from now.
BLAKE: What happens then?
AMY: I’m going to bring you into the toilet and f—king eat your ass.
Romeo and Juliet it’s not, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t deeply romantic in its own scatological way. Just as her heartbreak feels sloppy and real on every groove of Back to Black, so does her happiness now. Listen to the lyrics in “Wake Up Alone” — “His face in my dreams, seizing my guts / He floods me with dread” — and, as she stands against a wall, flashes popping as she gently carves I LOVE BLAKE onto her bare stomach with that shard of mirror, don’t be worried for Amy Winehouse. Be happy. She’s earned this.
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“I swear to f—k, I’m not usually this s—t.” Amy Winehouse and the Dap-Kings are on the TRL set in the MTV studios, now decorated to resemble a swanky nightclub. She’s flubbed the opening of “Tears Dry on Their Own” twice. This is the taping of the first episode of a new show, 45th at Night. Flickering lightbulbs on cocktail tables appear to the camera’s eye to be classy candlelight, and the studio audience isn’t shrieking at Damien Fahey, but rather sitting silently and awkwardly. The beer they’re drinking is real, for that extra night-on-the-town touch. In the greenroom, a cabal of label muckety-mucks pick silently at their cheese cubes, watching pop’s great white hope regain her composure.
“Where’s Blake sitting?” Winehouse’s manager grumbles under his breath.
Nearly every song requires at least two takes, which may not entirely be what the network had in mind when it proposed this intimate, spontaneous performance series, but Winehouse is more interested in getting it done right than getting it done quickly. One of her heroes, Mos Def, arrives (late) to freestyle a verse on “Mr. Magic,” a Frank outtake that is, Winehouse tells the audience, “about weed,” and requires four takes. “You guys get to go home if you want,” she tells the audience, “but I’ll be here till Thursday if I have to.” This winds up not being necessary. After two hours, the taping finally wraps, and Winehouse works the industry-heavy receiving line like a gracious pro.
“That was f—king horrible,” she recalls a few days later, sitting on the sidewalk outside a housing project on West 16th Street. It’s a flawless day, cloud-free and 78 degrees. She tilts her face to the sun. “When I’m nervous, I stutter, and I had to keep stopping and starting. I wanted to die.”
This is in stark contrast to the experience of riding with Winehouse to the stage at Coachella, when she was casually bulls—tting in a van with her BFF Kelly Osbourne and Fielder-Civil, admiring a Polaroid he’d just taken of himself with his cock out. (“It’s me with my cock out!” he explained.) Less than a minute later, she was accosted by DeVito, and less than a minute after that, playing the biggest show of her career. None of this fazed her in the slightest.
A fat man with a camera approaches. “Hey, Amy, you know what would be so funny?” he says. “If I take a picture of you in front of that beer truck. That would be so funny.” He cackles so horrendously that I’m quickly introduced to my own inner Sean Penn, but Winehouse is unfailingly polite, allowing this interloper to snap a quick photo of her, but right here’s much better rather than next to the truck, thanks so much. This is the byproduct of the particular brand of celebrity she has cultivated, willingly or not, and it’s the reason her audience hoots and cheers every time she takes a chug of her Jack and Coke onstage. Maybe she isn’t Etta James, Aretha Franklin, and Mahalia Jackson. Maybe she’s Dean Martin.
“It doesn’t bother me,” she says after the would-be paparazzo waddles away. “I mean, I write about it. I’m not going to turn around and kick the camera out of his hands. But I haven’t been getting up and drinking and playing pool all day and sleeping it off, and getting up at one in the morning and going out again. I’ve been working. If anything, people saying stuff like that to me makes me miss going out and f—king having at it, you know what I mean?”
Winehouse claims the best advice she ever got was “Shut up,” but she became a British tabloid editor’s dream by consistently failing to heed that counsel, detailing her bouts with manic depression, bulimia, and boozing with a candor rarely heard from chart-topping superstars-in-waiting. She’s largely complying with it now, though understandably perplexed as to why having a gold record means having to justify herself to strangers bearing tape recorders. Ask Winehouse why she thinks her classic-sounding songs and nakedly unmanaged (or unmanageable) persona are striking such a chord at this particular time, and she doesn’t grasp that she should even be part of the conversation.
Explain to her that one reason for her newfound mass appeal may be that her messiness feels so human and that audiences are starving for a little humanity in their pop stars, and she says she wouldn’t know, she’s not a pop star; she’s a musician. Inquire as to whether she’s proud of helping to introduce Motown and classic soul to a new generation of curious music fans, or what she thinks of the fact that the most productive source of new singing talent is a contest on TV, and she just stares through you, weary. Wonder aloud if she finds it hypocritical or unfair that the media go after her for partying, and those staring eyes glaze over entirely. Her reticence can’t be due to shyness — this much we’ve already gleaned — but maybe to a genuine bewilderment over her rapid ascent that renders her unable to properly contextualize it just yet. Or, even more likely, she genuinely doesn’t give a s—t.
“I don’t care,” she finally says with a sigh. “I don’t care about any of this, and I don’t have much of an opinion of myself. I don’t think people care about me, and I’m not in this to be a f—king role model. I made an album I’m very proud of, and that’s about it. I don’t think I’m such an amazing person who needs to be written about. And if I did, I’d be a f—king right cunt, wouldn’t I? Just ask me a silly question, like, ‘What’s my favorite flavor of Tootsie Pop?'”
Okay, Amy. What’s your favorite flavor of Tootsie Pop?
“Cherry,” she says, flashing a grin that’s perhaps seen one Tootsie Pop too many. “See? It’s easy! I’m just a very silly girl.”
But she seems more exhausted than silly. “Maybe I’m a bit resentful because all I do is work now. If I’m not working, I’ll be up for three weeks at a time, just like the old me; but I guess I’m just bored at the minute.” She softens a bit. “I suppose that sounds ungrateful. I’m a lucky girl.”
If staying awake for three weeks straight is her idea of stress-relieving R&R, and if making it to a 3 p.m. soundcheck and a 9 p.m. sold-out show feels like drudgery, maybe she could use a supervised time-out. And if being packed off to the Priory or Promises isn’t the answer for someone who might be losing the plot, what is? Winehouse’s shoulders slump. This again.
“Personally, I’ve had friends who have really benefited from rehab. I’m gonna go find Blake.” She stands up. “We’re done here, right?”
It’s a rhetorical question.