New footage from Amy shows Winehouse singing a cappella on “Back to Black,” a song she wrote and cut in just a few hours, according to producer Mark Ronson.
The Amy documentary is purportedly so sad that friends like Questlove couldn’t stand to watch it all in public, and so scathing her father has spoken out publicly against it. This scene, though, seems to be a zoomed-in view at the root of it: Amy Winehouse’s loneliness, her voice on bare display, as she sang a sad, sorrowful song about the supposed love of her life, Blake Fielder-Civil, who left her and went back to his longtime girlfriend.
The crushing part of this video is not exactly the solitude of her vocal, necessarily, nor is it the words she’s singing. It’s how, after she cuts the track, she leans away from the mic and says in a sweet, youthful voice, “Oh, it’s a bit upsetting at the end, isn’t it?” It’s a moment of self-reflection, a moment making light of her troubles, or at least framing them in a light way so as to cast the focus aside. That may have been her entire game, though—she was notoriously terrified of being on stage, sloughed off the fright and jitters through booze—always trying to shed the spotlight even (and maybe especially) as it shone brighter and brighter upon her.
“That chaos was, of course, a huge part of what made Amy Winehouse fascinating,” writes Rich Juzwiak in his Amy review:
It fueled interest that the paparazzi reacted to with 24/7 surveillance that made Winehouse even more troubled that made her even more interesting. It’s why Amy is simultaneously a moving experience and prolonged gawkfest. For better and most certainly worse, Winehouse had a way of making her demons downright consumable.
In this clip, Winehouse alone in the booth cutting vocals, you can also see those demons consuming her.
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