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Amy Winehouse, 27, Found Dead

English singer was a unique, talented take on Jewish femininity

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Amy Winehouse in London last August.(Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

The hyper-talented, mega-selling, spectacularly self-destructive English Jewish singer Amy Winehouse was found dead this morning at her home in London. While nobody could claim genuine surprise at the news, given her well-documented struggles with addiction (indeed, self-documented: the chorus of her biggest-ever hit begins, “They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no”), the news cannot help but shock and make one sorrowful. Several have already noted that Winehouse has joined the 27 Club of beautiful young talents who die at that insanely too-young age, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the Grateful Dead’s Pigpen.

In April, in Tablet Magazine, Dvora Meyers painted Winehouse as a unique figure in the annals of Jewish culture, at once indelibly Jewish and hyper-aware of her roots (her music and even style owed much to Phil Spector’s 1960s girl-group masterpiece) while swerving away from the good-girl stereotype.

Winehouse’s ancestors are the biblical vixens: Dina, who slept with Shechem; Deborah, the biblical heroine; or, more recently, Monica Lewinsky, the “portly pepperpot” (as the New York Post dubbed her) who nearly ended Bill Clinton’s presidency. These women possessed sexuality so powerful and intoxicating that it influenced national and political outcomes. Still, on “You Know I’m No Good,” Winehouse is most emphatic about another characteristic: her guilt, her seeming regret for all of the things she’s done wrong. It’s as though she’s pounding her chest in synagogue on Yom Kippur, except instead of using the shofar, she confesses her sins above the horns, beats, and drums of Mark Ronson’s production … In the last verse she asks, after her boyfriend discovers “little carpet burns” on her arms, “Who really stuck the knife in first?”

Singer Winehouse Found Dead in London, Police Say [NYT]
Related: A Hot Mess [Tablet Magazine]

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I was not a fan of Amy Winehouse but she did have some good songs. The fact that at 27 she is now dead is terrible. Why did she continue with such self destructive behaviour ? (BTW some people will secretly not really care that she is dead because she was a Jew.) The fact is that no one, whether a friend, fan, partner, neighbour or Rabbi really empathised with her and got through to her. They could not see what was really going on. For all her public bravado inside she was in real turmoil. Her fame, money and talent were cloaked in denial. Her true self had become calcified. Here’s the truth. Amy was traumatised between the ages of three and half to eight. She repressed the memories from conscious awareness. Her coping mechanisms of alcohol, drugs, loose sex, tattoos etc. became progressively more toxic. The downward spiral led to the ultimate act of self denial. She was very “close” to her father. Little Amy was screaming for help but she didn’t get the help she needed. No human being is born with a death wish. All children are born pure, innocent and free. Violence is not innate. Prayers for Amy Winehouse.

Robert says:

Her death is a terrible blow. What a waste of talent. What a tragedy. I am a fan (and I am just old enough to have been her father). In the past I published a book, titled THOSE WHO DIED YOUNG. Unfortunately she joined the league. I wish it had been otherwise. But it is not so… My thoughts are with her family, friends and fans.

RIP, Amy Winehouse, The end of a sad life. So young with so much potential.She joins the ranks of drug-addled rock stars Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison, who died at the same age.
Beautiful singer, sad loss, at least her demons are no longer tormenting her, rest in peace and tranquility. My deepest condolences to her friends and family at this sad time. God love you all.

M. Brukhes says:

I wrote a very uncomplimentary response to Dvora Myers’ take on Amy Winehouse when it appeared in Tablet in April, and I see no reason to retract what I said at the time. But I am truly saddened by Amy Winehouse’s death and the fact that it comes as so little surprise does nothing to diminish the sorrow or sense of loss. She was a genuine, immense, but mostly unrealized talent. And I would offer another take on how we might understand her Jewishness: rather than seeing her as consciously referencing a Jewish past, she is a member of a heroic and protean (previously all-boys’) club of Jewish artists like George Gershwin, Norman Mailer, Lenny Bruce, Lieber & Stoller, Bob Dylan, David Simon, and the Beastie Boys for whom being Jewish and being Black, by some amalgam of fantasy, kabala, and creative misreading, somehow was misunderstood to be “the same thing.” Amy Winehouse was never more Jewish than when she was channeling the spirit of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Diana Ross, and Janis Joplin; it’s the mismatched juxtaposition of the ideal and its embodiment that provides the essence of her art, and some of the most significant contributions by her landsleit predecessors to 20th century culture. It’s a much better club for her to be associated with than “the 27 Club.”

Zol zi hobn a likhtikn gan-eydn, un zoln mir eybikn ir ondenk!

Ya learn somehnitg new everyday. It’s true I guess!

This young womens death haunts me asthough it sings out to the world to awaken and see past her music to her life. It is with her life she prophesizes to all to cease our own destructive ways. Her life is not in vain nor is her death. The war on drugs must continue. Amy I will do my part you never be forgotten your message is very clear.

I simply understand why short post a good deal, we do hope you could develop far more about this.

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Amy Winehouse, 27, Found Dead

English singer was a unique, talented take on Jewish femininity

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