Amy Winehouse is Dead - and I Care

I never knew her. I'd never even heard of her. In my music collection of over 5000 CDs and nearly 5 GB of music on my iPod, there was none of Amy's music.

I never listen to the radio or watch network television, so I'm uninformed about the latest music trends. All these years I've focused on music I like - folk, or Irish or instrumental, and I missed out on new genres, so I never knew Amy's music, or anything about her behavior.

After Amy Winehouse died yesterday of a drug overdose, my Facebook newsfeed was filled with comments about her. Most agreed that a great talent had been lost. But many withheld compassion or sympathy stating Amy Winehouse was spoiled, weak, too rich for her own good and pathetic.

She's Got Talent

Several Facebook friends sent me links to Amy's music. I after listening I can see that this lady was mega-talented. She had amazing voice control, with an ability to add a style that transports the listener emotionally. That's art. And talent like that lives long after death.

I wonder if the same Facebook friends who condemned Amy in their comments would do the same to - say- Vincent Van Gough. He was a certifiable fruit loop. Cut off his ear and all, and eventually .. after rejecting lots of help from loved ones, shot himself. Do we walk into MOMA and scowl at Starry Night while muttering that Vincent wasted his talent, he was selfish and spoiled and just another pathetic artist / loser who refused to get help?

Do we throw all our Mark Twain books in the trash because he selfishly squandered his family's wealth, made bad investments, lost the big house, forced his family to have to live abroad, and emotionally abused his daughter (who was also his final caretaker) - before he finally died a cantankerous, lonely death?

Do we turn off the Wizard of Oz because the star selfishly embraced life in the fast lane and eventually OD'd leaving behind her devoted fans - and her children?

Many artistic legends …. Oscar Wilde, Virginia Wolf, Hemingway, Mozart, Freddie Mercury … All had great talent. All drove their loved ones crazy and came to sad, lonely ends. But we continue to be transformed by what they left behind. As time goes on people stop judging them … because art lives, it transcends our worldly existence, it transports us into the Divine presence … and it's bigger than the humans who create it.

That is enough said about the talent part of Amy Winehouse. Whether she's dead or alive, whether she was selfish or stupid, her art lives and has moved enough listeners to fill up concert halls and win her five Grammys.

Art is a soul to soul communication. And apparently, Amy Winehouse was a master.

She Was an Addict

Each person sees addicts through a particular set of lenses. To some, addicts are selfish because they won't get well or weak because they won't get better... when the cost of not recovering is so great. And to others, addicts need our help, understanding and / or compassion, because they are suffering from an illness. Personal experience prescribes the lenses.

All humans have flaws, and addiction magnifies them. In truth, all addicts are not created equal, and every addict's story has a different plot line. Many things in a life impact recovery. Self motivation and choice are two of those things.

I'm thinking, if you didn't know Amy personally, you should probably withhold judgement.

How Callous Have We Become?

I was surprised by the Facebook comments from what I call the "Amy shouldn't have said 'no, no, no' to rehab" group. While I respect each friend's right to express his or her opinion - and I love a healthy debate - I'm shocked that people can casually remove the human element from this tragedy, and fling out comments like candy in a parade.

She was selfish. She was weak. She wasted her life. She was spoiled. She threw it all away. We're better off without one more selfish rock star ... or the worst ...Who cares?

A young woman is dead. There are people who knew her and loved her who mourn the loss. Only they know her story. Others only  know what the media writes. Not a reliable source, that.

A light has gone out. Have we become so hardened by this pop culture that surrounds us, that we forget this was a human being…. and that "...there but for the grace of God goes you - or I?"

Try watching someone you unconditionally love - like your child, or your parent or your sibling - struggle with addiction. It's so easy to judge those at an emotional distance. People feel a sense of power when they pass judgement. It makes them feel all smart and authoritative. I draw this conclusion by being a judgmental, opinionated sort myself. But there are boundaries… I don't know enough about Amy to judge her. And if I did, I'd keep quiet for awhile - just out of respect for life and death.

To my Christian friends … 

I'm thinking Jesus wouldn't have passed judgement on Amy, and he wouldn't have wanted us to either. That New Testament story about the prostitute and casting the first stone was pretty powerful. Maybe your sin isn't addiction, but you've got sin - I've got sin.

If I had to be remembered as being on one side of that parable, I'd opt for being on Jesus' side and not the side of the angry mob.  Think about it.  Who is the angry mob in this scenario?

Some of the same devout Christians I've heard say, "God never gives up on you" spewed venom on the Internet about Amy Winehouse's demise.

Can you say hypocrite?

Separate the Talent from the Addiction


Like most great artists, Amy Winehouse had her madness. She gave us what she gave us, and that will likely live beyond her death.

Her personal life is not for me to judge.  I believe that a soul loved by a compassionate Creator deserves to pass into the that Creator's benevolent arms, without a diatribe of condemning comments from people who never knew her.

It seems as time goes by, society forgets the flaws of great artists. Destructive behaviors, craziness and selfishness become a minor part of the biography, and fruits of the artist's creativity dominate the memory.

Perahps time will be kind to Amy Winehouse.

14 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:03 PM

    I care and it is very sad but it was expected. It's really sad to say that but it's true. Most people are probably tired of hearing about it because we all knew it was going to happen eventually anyway. My aunt died of an overdose so I understand what her friends and family are going through but it was the same with us. We knew it was going to happen. So people are gonna say what they're gonna say, why is everyone getting so mad about it? Just ignore them!

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  2. Anonymous12:18 PM

    Mindie, you've such a beautiful ways with words and way of looking at things. Thank you for listening to the songs. This blog made me cry. And I guess I finally figured out that besides the depth of her music, this hit me so hard because it could have been me at 27...in a body bag. Easily. Soi I thank God...for my many blessings and for seeing me through those times. Audrey

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  3. Mindie, so well said, as always. You started a great discussion in Facebook and you have put it so well here. The Vincent Van Gogh analogy is excellent. Maybe one day people will speak about Amy Winehouse in a different way, much as people speak about Hendrix for example. At the time of his death there was a lot of anger and venom spewed about too.

    As for so called Christians being so judgmental, I wonder if they realise how un-Christian they are being. Regardless of that, the real truth is simple, Amy Winehouse was mentally ill, addicted and also seriously talented. We should be glad she lived and gave us something wonderful that will probably be around for a long time.

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  4. Amen Mindie. Beautifully articulated and I am thinking that some haughty people should be wearing their tails between their legs today. Gracious, caring and one of the best points on judgement and religion made in this blog post Mindie. I am sickened at what has happened to the Christian faith in this country believing that one has the right to pass horrific judgement on another when the words of their own Lord was to "pluck the log from their own eye before attempting to point out the sliver they see in another's". Thank you for writing your thoughts on Amy Winehouse... She too has been and always will be loved by her creator who in my understanding is the light of LOVE~. Patti

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  5. Well said, Mindie. You spoke with grace.
    Judgmental attitudes go beyond the labels of Christian or non-Christian -- we are all guilty of judging others. We all need to be forgiven of that particular sin.
    God offers us grace -- so often we forget that.
    So often we forget to offer others grace too.

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  6. Sooo well said. Thank you Mindie. I will be sharing this one.

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  7. Very well put, Mindie!

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  8. Carol D'Agostino1:45 PM

    Thanks, Mindie. I, too, found some of the posts remarkably lacking compassion. Addiction is one of those human conditions that brings out loud and diverse opinions. Knowing that I still find in hard to believe that people can condemn so harshly. Surely we all know someone in our circle of friends and family or even ourselves who have addiction issues? I know I do and it is not something to simply pass off as weak people who can't do the right thing.

    The whole Charlie Sheen drama was a prime example of how callous society has become to those struggling with addiction and mental illness. Many people found his struggle to be entertaining. He clearly not only has addiction issues, but also personality disorders yet it played out as a reality TV drama.

    I couldn't believe people would buy tickets to see a talented man with obvious addiction issues lose control of reality and dismantle his life right before their very eyes. Now that's sick! Charlie has and Amy had an addiction and deep rooted mental illness. What's everybody else's excuse?

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  9. Anonymous3:08 PM

    What a beautiful post Mindie. As usual you speak with eloquence & compassion. Maybe some people attack because they are vulnerable to the loss of never hearing the next song, the next guitar rift,the next story or seeing the next painting of their beloved artist. Do you think their personal loss comes out in an expression of selfish anger and they aren't even aware of it's origin. I felt a sadness about not reaping the future rewards of my personal artists...but accepted that what they left behind was enough. Isn't it funny that they have license to become apart of us and in return we feel a certain ownership about how they should live their life...As you said so well,"Art is a soul to soul communication". Sandy Saunders

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  10. I do not know her work or her as an artist but what I do know is how quick people are to jump on the band wagon pointing a finger at the sin in another while three other fingers are pointing back at them (think about it) it seems she was addicted to some type of drugs a horrible thing indeed, we as humans should learn to hate the sin and not the person committing the sin. Old saying...Until you have walked a mile in another persons shoes keep your judgement to yourself.

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  11. Anonymous7:01 PM

    Dearest Mindi,
    I can't thank you enough for your post. I knew of her music, I read of her addiction and I sit in awe of her God given talent. I thank you so much for hushing the judgers. Beyond the drugs, the money and the fame was just a girl.......a daughter.

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  12. Nobody with a brain gives a crap. She was an untalented junky who did nothing but exploit her "fame" and put her family through hell. I think its sad that people even mention her in the same paragraph as Cobain or Hendrix. Other then the fact that she was 27 and is dead there is NO SIMILARITY sorry. The world is a better place without people like this

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  13. Anonymous12:45 AM

    Thank you Mindy for saying what I was thinking. I became a fan of Amy Winehouse just a few months before her death. I was blown away by her talent.For me the music of the past that my parents loved was married with the contemporary and it was like my two worlds came together musically. I saw her fragility and I had a love in my heart for her. I am a Christian and I believe God graces us with talents unconditionally -whether we are believers or not.Not having the same values etc, as somebody does not mean we can't be in awe of his or her talent. Who knows really what Amy went through. I remember feeling broken and devastated some years ago and no matter what others said to be helpful, I knew they really could not know how I really felt inside. Her father has said she was trying to change her life and drinking less in the time coming up to her death. But sadly her body could take no more. It hurts me to see and hear judgemental even hateful comments about Amy. I believe love is hopeful. And I hope that in her last moments she like the thief on the cross spoke with Jesus and asked him to keep a place in paradise for her.Angela.

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  14. Thanks for the comment, Angela. I've never had trouble saying what I think. This whole post was really an observation on how judgmental people can be ... really I don't think the actual judgment is what makes these people spew their thoughtless comments. I think it makes them feel energized and powerful to make these judgments. What goes around eventually comes around ... and someday, there will be fingers of judgment pointed in their directions.

    Where there's love there is hope. People loved Amy and this life is over for her now. Hopefully, love will someday overcome the hard hearts of people - many of them labeling themselves as Christian - who can state that Amy (or any human being) was a waste, and we're better off rid of her.

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