Amy Winehouse: Gone Too Soon

On the night of January 16th, 2007, Amy Winehouse still looked reasonably in control. With this being her first stateside performance at New York’s Joe Pub, and with Jay-Z in attendance, she belted out her time-resistant songs with a charming, shaky confidence. I knew that night with all certainty that she was vocally unparalleled–this isn’t a hindsight thing nor is it a claim of Simon Cowell-like talent recognition. If you had been there, you too would have known that with her drinking relatively in control, she could sound galactic (The picture above was taken that night with my Motorola Razor. Hence the poor quality).

For months after that inaugural set, I pursued Amy to be a cover story for Heeb. Her publicists, initially expressing huge interest, started soon thereafter responding in the negative explaining that they were now limiting her press engagements. Winehouse’s press person cited an insane touring schedule and a lack of time. This may all be true, but I can’t help but wonder if this is when Amy started to unravel. Winehouse had always seemed uncomfortable and conflicted with the attention she ultimately deserved, and alcohol and drugs became her way out, and anorexia was seemingly the only thing she could control.

It became glaringly obvious that Amy needed help. Even peripheral pop culture consumers were familiar with her shenanigans, such as her abusive relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil, or the YouTube videos of crack smoking with Pete Doherty. At one point, the question of whether she would destroy herself or not was replaced with “when would she destroy herself?”

There’s something about this loss that makes me a little uncomfortable. The first is that this notion of her joining the 27 Club somewhat romanticizes her untimely demise. It shouldn’t. The second is that while I’m sure there were a fair share of supporters helping Amy to heal and find comfort, what of the enablers? If Amy was still in horrible shape, why was she encouraged, for example, to do a limited European tour this the summer? Why was she treated as a commodity pushed and pushed for our schadenfreude and to the benefit of the whorish media all the way to this point of immolation?

And after the opportunity now gone, I regret the fact that Heeb never got the chance to talk about her Judaism. The only thing I could find online, from Totally Jewish, are her memories of going to cheder classes every Sunday but hating them, and attending synagogue for Yom Kippur only out of respect. “Being Jewish to me is about being together as a real family,” she said. “It’s not about lighting candles and saying a brocha [blessing].”

It also saddens me that so much of the controversy and drama now overshadows her short yet brilliant contribution to pop music. When I look back on that wet January night, I consider it a blessed opportunity to have been there. To have seen her dilapidated beehive in person, to have heard those godly pipes in the confines of an intimate downtown club is an experience rare even for a music journalist.

And when her posthumous album inevitably comes out, which I hope it will, I’ll then pour myself a non-alcoholic drink and toast a life gone too soon.
They tried to make her go to rehab. Too bad they didn’t try harder. L’chaim.

Two videos from that January Joe’s Pub performance:

What do you think?

About The Author

Arye Dworken

Arye Dworken lives in a tastefully decorated home in Teaneck, New Jersey, with his wife, son, and dog named Barrett. Barrett is named after one of the original members of Pink Floyd yet Arye wouldn't necessarily consider himself a big Pink Floyd fan. It just felt like a good dog name. You can find more Arye on or

6 Responses

  1. Miriam B.

    It’s just so damn sad. Such a huge voice, so musical, such talent. Now that I am twice as old as 27, I can only wonder to what artistic heights she might have soared had she been able to get well. Thanks for sharing this, Barrett.

  2. Miriam B.

    Oops, I mean Arye, unless Barrett really wrote this! (Read too quickly!)

  3. Yid Vicious
    Joshua Neuman

    I remember the back-and-forth with her publicists well. Sarah (our former Creative Director) was playing her 24-7 in the office and got her people to grant us a 20-minute phoner. I thought her people would come around to a photo shoot, but during the back-and-forth, Amy kind of rocketed out of the stratosphere. I still think that a Heeb photo shoot with Amy Winehouse would have been spectacular (and NO it wouldn’t have involved Manischewitz!), but it’s definitely one of my biggest regrets that we let that interview slip through our fingers.

  4. thelastjewstanding

    You guys are soooo obsessed with being ironic and always being ant-establishment so sods law u didn’t get it.. as a Londoner Jew it’s well known in the community she was very proud of her Jewishness but didn’t get the chance to present this for various reasons.
    apart from odd article in the jewish chronicle or impromptu radio phone call from her dad whenever she got in trouble – in fact Mitch did say once he’d like nothing more than to marry a Jewish man mainly to humanize her daughter in front of many disapproving eyes. So please Heeb don’t cry about not getting the opportunity to do something with her, if you cut out the bullsh*t and appealed to her heart, her Jewish soul, and actually once in while pitched a straight down the line piece you may have got that exclusive. mitch would have agreed as would have been easier to express her Jewish background in another country without potential fallout.

  5. Arye Dworken
    Arye Dworken

    No problem, Miriam. People confuse Barrett and me all the time. ; )

    Re: Last Jew Standing. If you are in fact that, we’re in trouble.
    Look, man, there’s not an ounce of irony in what I wrote. If anything, it’s too sincere. Not sure where you’re getting that. We loved her music, we loved her talent. We lament not meeting her and speaking with her. That’s all.
    And it’s pretty presumptuous of you to asume you know how we pitched anything to her. Unless you were reading my emails back in 2007. In which case, dude, not cool.

  6. thelastjewstanding

    RE: RE: LastJewStanding. I don’t think you fully understood what I said. Somewhere down the line her management didn’t trust you or heeb to do her justice. maybe heeb was a thing too small and not in interest in breaking America. the idea of regret not doing a piece is pretty nuff way to include her in ‘your’ narrative of guilt and loss in respects of the bigger story, her tragic death.
    you say
    “And after the opportunity now gone, I regret the fact that Heeb never got the chance to talk about her Judaism. The only thing I could find online, from Totally Jewish, are her memories of going to cheder classes every Sunday but hating them, and attending synagogue for Yom Kippur only out of respect. “Being Jewish to me is about being together as a real family,” she said. “It’s not about lighting candles and saying a brocha [blessing].”

    I don’t know what exactly heeb magazine done in terms of Amy coverage and to be honest I m not going to bother but judging from the usual tone from heeb i can almost guarantee most if not all you must have replicated tabloid-type stories about her – albeit done in that clever-jewish-tongue-in-cheek-whatever- yawn- style.
    All I m saying if more effort were made by journalists to woo her and especially her dad you my friend would have that story. Plus does the interview had to be done in US? oh please come on, we live in Skype age. Yes.. the fact is she probably DID want to express her Jewishness. It was known she made songs like Kosher Kisses etc . so you go on being regretful but I say you didn’t try so hard like the crowd. and really its bit of non-story angle from the beginning dotchyathink with respects?

    Anyway-mate you kind of lost the bigger point about Amys genetic makeup. Fact one, she wasn’t a typical NW London Jew and didn’t suffer all the trapping of living in that bubble where Jews just sit around waiting for God. She lived a borderline lifestyle wheeling and dealing in Camden Town. Do some research and you’ll find out how that’s important to her. She adored that area and its nightlife, very unique to London regularly calling herself the ‘Queen of Camden’.
    Hmph the only reason I bother to write all this because the worse thing about your article is hearing u crying over spilt milk and not understand the context in which u write. Hey IF u felt regret about not giving her a chance to express her Judaism well guys you had all the time in the world – she was about for 4-5 years in the public eye – but clearly you were pissing around too much with thinking you’re god’s gift for comedy??


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This will close in 0 seconds