It has been one year since the world lost Amy Winehouse at the far too young age of 27. On the anniversary of her death, her father Mitch Winehouse has penned an open letter that he is sharing with the world. In addition to this letter, Mitch has also written a book titled Amy, My Daughter which — I hope — is is way of memorializing his daughter. Click below to read the full text of Mitch’s letter about Amy to see what he has to say one year after her very untimely death.
I’ve always loved music; it’s always been an enormous part of my life. Listening to music makes me happy and, when I’m not, it helps to cheer me up. My mother passed her love of music on to me and I passed it on to Amy. It formed a big part of my relationship with Amy and was as important to her as it was to me. Amy always surrounded herself with music, even during her darkest times.
I thought a lot about Amy’s relationship with music, her own and the music of other artists, while I was writing my book. Of course, I loved her voice – for me she was the greatest female vocalist of all time – but I also cherish Amy’s lyrics, and the part other music played in her life as she was growing up.
When she was a teenager Amy sang with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra for a while. It was with them that she made one of her first real recordings. They put together a CD and, when she popped round one day, Amy gave me a copy. I listened to it after she left. When I got to Amy’s recording of the old Hoagy Carmichael/Ned Washington standard The Nearness of You, I got a shiver down my spine. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard.
Suddenly the world was a better place, suddenly everything was right and I felt a sense of inner peace. More than a hundred artists have recorded The Nearness of You – from Sarah Vaughan to Frank Sinatra to Judy Garland, even the Rolling Stones had a bash at it (and it wasn’t half bad) – but none of them, not one of them, is a patch on my Amy’s version. I still it play often. It was, and will always be, just beautiful.
In writing my book I also had to put into words my thoughts on the songs that Amy wrote. To put it simply, I think they are wonderful. All of her lyrics were so well-observed, so pertinent, so clever. Frank was always my favourite album of Amy’s. To me, tracks like You Sent Me Flying and Stronger than Me instantly conjure up the innocence of young love. The lyrics of Fuck Me Pumps are brilliantly funny and never fail to make me smile.
But I have always found it hard to listen to the songs Amy wrote for Black to Black. That’s because all of the songs on that album, apart from Rehab, are about her ex-husband Blake, and all of the terrible things he put her through.
And what did Amy think about the songs she wrote? Well, Amy was always very critical of her own music. But it was more than that with the tracks on Back to Black – some of them she hated, because they reminded her of all of the bad times with Blake. Towards the end they became very difficult for her to sing.
She was most proud of Stronger than Me, You Know I’m No Good and Rehab because of the Ivor Novello Awards she won for them. Amy wasn’t big on awards generally, but the Ivors were different. The Ivor Novello Awards are judged and presented by the writing community for outstanding songwriting and composing, not for singing well or selling millions of albums. As Amy told me many a time: “The Ivors are awarded by people who know what’s what about songs and stuff.” They meant the world to Amy.
Sometimes listening to Amy’s music helps me; sometimes it makes me feel more sad. I miss Amy more than I can say. When I’ve finished writing this I’m going to sit down with a cup of tea and listen to Amy’s recording of The Nearness of You.
Despite the fact that, sadly, not many people were surprised when they learned of Amy Winehouse’s death, I imagine that the news was a terrible blow to Amy’s family. I can’t say that I have ever been the biggest Mitch Winehouse fan (for a various number of reasons), my heart does go out to him and Amy’s mother. I cannot fathom the pain that comes from losing a child, no matter the circumstances. If Mitch needs to write letters and books to heal, then far be it for anyone to deny him that ability. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year already since Amy’s passing. Hopefully she is resting well and that peace can finally come to her family.