Some weeks ago my daughter Anna informed me that I would probably love the song stylings of Amy Winehouse, a young Jewish Brit who sounds like an old-time standards singer but with some distinctly new-time lyrics. Anna previews most of my cultural life for me these days; she warns me about current movies I shouldn't see because of their disturbing themes. Her brother keeps me posted about not-to-be-missed Netflix and books that he thinks I'd like. Abe and I share a fascination for Murikami novels and arcane documentaries; however, we part company of the subject of rap and hip-hop, which is how Anna got elevated to my de facto personal music assistant. Anna knows that I secretly hanker to be seen as belly-up to the cutting edge of the Zeitgeist, not unlike her Bubs (my mother) who still prides herself, at 92, on being absolutely au courant on virtually every aspect of the prevailing culture.
So I quickly accepted Anna's offer to burn me a copy of Amy Winehouse's latest album and thought no more of it. That is, until I could not get through a moment of any given day without non-stop news of this scrawny boozer and her new album...
Entertainment Weekly, a periodical which provides perfect reading during a pedicure, noted her talent, as did the throwaway Life Magazine, which comes tucked into our daily newspaper.
Then the other morning David called to me from his seat at the computer where he was checking out this Amy Winehouse- - do I know her?/sounds like I'd like her-- because he just heard about her on NPR! I informed him that I was way ahead of him, since Anna had already given me the heads-up and that a CD was being burned for me, probably as we were speaking. Then David and I had the little argument about why Anna told ME and not HIM and then we simultaneously waxed rhapsodic about Anna and her talent as a potential torch singer even if she insisted for some inexplicable reason on becoming a social worker instead of the Center City Amy Winehouse and then I said it's just as well since Amy Winehouse has tattoos of naked women up and down her arms and Anna's inherited propensity towards keloids obviates the obligatory body art and then we kvelled ad nauseum about how lucky we are with our kids, their spouses , AND all of their fascinating career choices.
Just when I was getting the feeling that enough was enough with this Amy Winehouse creature, I got to my office only to find an issue of the reconfigured Jewish Forward newspaper on my desk. There, emblazoned on the second page, was a huge photo and article entitled "Not Your Nice Jewish Girl-- Amy Winehouse".This is not my grandmother's Forverts anymore.
My mind began to reel.Have I suddenly entered an alternate universe? How is it that one day I had never even heard of Amy Winehouse and now I hear nothing but Amy Winehouse. I read about her in the Inky, the New York Times, and she's even coming to the TLA in May!
The CD that the kids burned for me is in the car and Amy Winehouse now comes on as soon as I turn the key in the ignition. I admit that I'm kinda relieved that I don't have to listen to the BBC newscast on my way to work anymore. Even with those cool clipped British accents, the news about Darfur and Iraq is too demoralizing to be subjected to before I've seen my first patient of the day. Instead I listen to Amy Winehouse and her defiant response to the urging that she go into rehab ("No, No,No" she sings out in a full-throated absolutely gorgeous voice that brings Bessie and Billie and Diana Ross to mind) and for some strange reason I'm with her all the way. Hey, I'm not her therapist and, for that matter, I'm not her Jewish mother either. I'm just a newly-minted fan, hoping that she doesn't self-destruct or sell out too soon.
I guess it's only a matter of time before we see the Amy Winehouse Diet Book,the Amy
Winehouse Guide to J-Dating, and the Amy Winehouse Haggadah. Until then, I offer thanks to my daughter for cluing me in so early on so that I can aver that I knew Amy Winehouse when... and contrary to her dark and self-destructive lyrics, it's obvious that for Amy and me... THINGS ARE LOOKING UP.