Most of the time it’s easy for us here at OVRLD to keep our focus on local music – specifically that music which is local to Austin, Texas. However, it’s ludicrous to think that somehow our wonderful little music scene remains unaffected by the greater world. This weekend, the death of Amy Winehouse presented us with the kind of inescapable news that demands acknowledgement.
I tried to find a way to connect Winehouse to Austin, but Chris Lynn already did that beautifully over at Republic of Austin. Her effect on us was intangible and distant – no more unique than any other community across the world. It’s also arguable how much impact she’s really had on ATX musicians – I tried searching for some kind of similar artists here and there really isn’t one that I could find. Though Winehouse was part of a group of female British singers that emerged in the middle part of the last decade with a huge influence on old-school soul, jazz and R&B (think Joss Stone, Alice Russell and Duffy), she eclipsed all of them in terms of both musical range and notoriety. She was a singular musical personality: as instantly recognizable on record as in person. Or more accurately, in the tabloids. Her life was summed up quite well in this fantastic obit by Steve Hyden of the AV Club, which I definitely recommend you check out.
Which leaves me with the personal element of all this. Mourning celebrity deaths is always a strange thing. Most of us never personally knew them, yet we feel touched by them somehow. For example, I got more frequent updates about Amy Winehouse’s life than the lives of most of my cousins. And as much as I was an admirer, I never counted myself a huge fan. Yet, it still felt disingenuous to write up another local artist as if the music world hadn’t just lost a unique talent – even one that was never fully realized. It is impossible now to hear “Rehab,” as I did at two separate places on West Sixth on Saturday night, without superimposing the terrible downward spiral that followed it. But it is also inevitable – as with many who were taken from us at too young an age – that we’ll elevate her historical legacy. Her songs, already imbued with heartbreak, loss, and loneliness, will continue to resonate through the years because of the coda that followed…even though we all hoped it was just the bridge.