It’s only been a few hours since the news broke that Amy Winehouse was found dead.  I sit here feeling very sad, and kind of shocked even though I had been waiting for this moment for a really long time.  So many thoughts and ideas swirling in my head at the moment..

It was my friend Manue who introduced me to Amy Winehouse.  It was March of 2007 and I was perusing the racks of HMV and she said to me, “Have you heard that song? I don’t wanna go to rehab, no-no-no!”  Not knowing what she was talking about (or knowing that she had fumbled the words), she took me by the hand to the listening booth and forced me to listen to this CD called Back To Black.  I kept thinking “Isn’t that kinda like the name of that AC/DC album?”  I put the headphones on and started listening.

What I heard stopped me in my tracks.  Where was this soulful voice coming from this weird beehive white girl body?  And she was British?  I literally was sold in about 6 seconds of hearing Rehab.  I grabbed the CD (so did Manue) and we bought it outright.  It was the first time in a long while where an artist grabbed me within seconds of a song playing.  (Those times come few and far between now, so I think about that moment and treasure it.  Will it happen again?)

What followed was my absolute wearing out of my Back To Black CD.  Not only did she have that voice, but she wrote all of the songs! A singer-songwriter!  And the production by Mark Ronson was amazing.  Every song felt like a Motown one, every one had soul and brought me to a retro 60s vibe filled universe that was warm and welcoming – but also had the attitude of a 2000 era artist.

I bled that music dry.  I blogged about her right away entitling it “Who The Hell Is Amy Winehouse?” and talked about her to friends and family.  I got people at work listening to her.  When I love a record, I want everyone to love it.  And she was that artist in 2007 for me.  It got so obsessive for me that I had to take off songs of hers from my iPod because I was listening to it TOO MUCH.  Work friends got me Frank, her debut album as a wedding present.  Yep, she was definitely someone worth listening to.

Then, the tabloid reports began to come in that year.  The drugs, the horrific performances, the weird marriage, the drugs, more bad performances, self-destruction.  And suddenly, Amy Winehouse went from a huge talent to a running joke.  And she became a sad, sick joke to me as well.

Grammys 2008 arrived and she swept most of her categories.  I was happy- she was deserving of every one of those trophies.  She gave a semi coherent performance.  I remember Natalie Cole saying something that there shouldn’t recognition for people who are clearly self-destructive and have substance abuse problems.  I did agree to some degree, but it didn’t change the fact that Amy and Mark created a modern 2000 classic record.  If Woody Allen and Roman Polanski could still be seen for their work and not their behaviour, Amy could also be excused.

I think that I am not alone in the belief that a lot of people were waiting for this sad news to come through.  Her public incidents of debauchery were outnumbering the good stuff that she was capable of doing.  She had disappeared for a little while, and there were reports that she had cleaned up.  This got me a little excited, thinking that perhaps new music was on the way.  Those recent performances in Serbia last month where she was booed off the stage, however, showed me that she was up to her old tricks and that she wasn’t wanting to do this anymore.  She wanted out, and we were her audience watching her slowly vanish.

So, what to say today?  What to say of this sadness in my heart?  Will her legacy, and her entrance into the “27 Club” with the likes of Cobain, Joplin, Moon, Morrison and Hendrix, last as long as these predecessors?

I say it is time to get those tracks back on my iPod and re-listen to those gems.  Play it loudly.  That’s what music is for – to remember, to understand and to be eternal.


50 Facts About Me

A while ago on Twitter there had been a #hashtag trending called 100 Facts About Me.  I wanted to know what that was, and apparently all it is is the challenge of writing down 100 facts about yourself.  Apparently I can’t do 100 things as this post has been a draft for about 2 months.  So, instead, here are 50 Facts About Me:

1)I am the youngest of 5.

2) My father died when I was 2.

3) I became a father when I was 33.

4) I grew up in a suburb of Montreal called Greenfield Park.

5) I lived there till I was 28 – when I moved to Toronto.

6) When I was 21, I cut my left index finger with an electric hedge clipper.

7) I still have my left index finger.

8) I grew up Catholic and went to church every weekend.

9) In a ridiculously ballsy move, I auditioned for a role in the Canadian production of RENT.

10) I used to act, but now I have bad stage fright thinking about acting.

11) I met Sarah McLachlan for 5 seconds, and it was televised on MuchMoreMusic.

12) I also met John Travolta at Chapters in Montreal.

13) When I was 5 years old, I walked home from my elementary school because the doors that I was used to going through were locked.  I crossed a busy highway, and avoided being kidnapped by a woman in the process.

14) I can still remember my grandmother crying when I got home.

15) I wrote two plays that were in back to back Montreal Fringe Festivals.

16) A non firm handshake is one of my biggest pet peeves.

17) The first movie I ever saw in the theatre was E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial.  To this day, the end still makes me cry.

18) Fact of the matter is, many things can make me cry.

19) I love my job.

20) Meeting my wife was the best thing that ever happened to me.

21) The birth of our daughter is equally the best thing.

22) The first concert I ever saw was Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 show.  I’m pretty sure she lip synced the entire thing.

23) The most recent concert that I’ve seen was in 2007 – Justin Timberlake, who I can safely say puts on a great live show.

24) I bite my nails.

25) I got glasses when I was 12 years old, after not being able to see a computer screen clearly.

26) I always root for the underdog.

27) As I get older, my love for ice cream gets bigger.

28) Sometimes I look at pictures of me when I was younger, and I wonder who that person was.

29) I have four tattoos – the first one I always forget about, which should be the most precious.  And the fourth one is the most obvious and I adore it.

30) I once played Templeton the rat in an elementary school presentation of Charlotte’s Web.  It remains one of my favorite books in life.

31) Alanis Morissette was the closest I’ve ever been to celebrity obsession.

32) The day my grandmother died, I went to school because I felt that I had to.  I feel apart and was quickly picked up and driven home.

33) I am obsessive compulsive about flossing.

34) When I finished reading The Color of Water by James McBride in 2004, I was so moved by the book that I wrote him a letter.  Three weeks later, he wrote me back.  I still have that letter.

35) I just finished watching the series finale of Friday Night Lights and I truly think it is one of the best television series I have ever seen in life.

36) When I was younger, I had a child’s typewriter and every year after the Oscars were done, I  used to type out the winners on it – for no reason.

37) I had a Mickey Mouse record player when I was 5 years old, and I used to play my brother’s KISS and Styx records on it.

38) My Smurfs records came a close second.

39) I used to draw when I was a kid, then that changed to wanting to act, then that changed to wanting to write.  I’m still wanting to write.

40) The first tape (yes, tape) I ever bought with my own money was INXS’s “Kick” album.  It remains a precious one.

41) I also own Alanis (before reclaiming her last name)’s first two dance albums on tape – collector’s items?

42) I shaved my head the day before my university convocation.  My mother was not thrilled.

43) Apparently, my first sentence was “Give me 2 dollars to buy Bee Gees record.” – this says A LOT.

44) I think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Clueless are two of the best written comedies ever.

45) Of course, the best is a tie between Some Like It Hot and When Harry Met Sally…

46) I would never want 5 children – 2 works for me.

47) I find it hard to write a long creative piece these days.

48) I wear hard contact lenses, not soft.

49) I abhor any form of prejudice – it makes me insane.

50) I should be in bed.