Thursday, March 22, 2007

Me and Miss Winehouse: 'Scuse Me While I Gush

The other day, mi amor de la vida (este semana), sent me a link from Gawker. Folks at that site were asking/talking about Amy Winehouse. I replied back that I had to stop reading mid-way in 'cause I'm not crazy about the site or their demographic. Then I wrote out the following:

Amy is hilarious and soulful and insane/ly talented. But she doesn’t have anywhere near her the snark or smarm or “ironic” posturing that has infected and decimated too much American pop culture and criticism – and that is the defining trait of far too many of these culture blogs that clog the net. That “too-cool-for-school” shit is gonna be around for a long while to come but it’s already over. Tired. Played out. What’s brave is those folks – artists, civilians and bloggers alike – who are willing to lead with heart, to expose soul. To be vulnerable and risk fucking up in grand and public ways as they seek love, knowledge and self. I think that’s the reason Amy has connected with so many real people. The crowd at her show, thank every deity of every faith, wasn’t just Gawker / Dlisted / Defamer hipsters and gossips looking for the next big hype. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at how many of that brigade was not there. Instead, it was a human buffet: middle-aged women singing their hearts out; next to me was a trio of friends – two black women and a Latina, all beautiful – who looked like they probably work in the same dreary office and were out for a night to see a woman who sang some real shit with which they could identify, and they were all playfully bitching about the humidity and the paucity of straight men in the crowd; there were obnoxious WeHo queens of all ages and hip-hop kids sporting their Okayplayer gear and folks of every stripe who just are starved for some good music… And, yeah, there were hipsters. I hate contrived Kumbayah Benneton gatherings but this was real, organic.

I love Amy because she plays with femme artifice in a half-ass way, like a knowing and indifferent old drag queen, letting you know she enjoys the haphazardly worn female gear but doesn’t take it seriously at all. That it’s only the ribbon on the prize that is her gift. I mean, the woman is missing a big ass tooth on the side, and clearly does not give a fuck. And she can do all that because she knows – aside from whatever insecurities and fears gnaw her nipples late at night (and her busted-relationship-fueled boozing, drugging and rail-thin frame make it clear she ain’t the most Disney of characters) – that she does have something to say, that she is talented. She luxuriates in her voice like some booze-sopped old jazz singer who can do more on cruise-control than your average pop or r&b starlet can with a team of militaristic dancers and state-of-the-art DAT equipment. She’s a beautiful, fucked up mess.

Highlight of the night for me: After she fake-finished her set and headed offstage before returning for the encore, “Rehab.” (When she announced that “Me and Mr. Jones” was the last song of the night and the crowd groaned loudly, she rolled her eyes and playfully chastised us, “C’mon, now. You know it’s not really the last song of the night. I think this is a game we’ve all played before…”) As she exited stage right, the thick velvet curtain covering the exit was pulled back by one of her musicians so she could step through. She was flanked by her back-up singers and band. A naked, super bright light-bulb hung from the ceiling backstage, creating a silhouette of Amy that was made of towering hair, the curve of her shoulder and the arm of someone steadying her as she walked down the stairs. It was beautiful, like the back of some old “live” album from the ‘50s or ‘60s.

Here’s my review of the concert, found in this week’s LA Weekly.


Marvin said...

I thought I wanted to be the little you but cant walk in your slough footed shoes. You writing about Miss Winehouse make me want to be the boy her, or fuck it, her.

Ernest, I love it when you love it.

I so want to be the hot mess you gush on.

redbone said...

oh, my!