It’s been nearly a month since I was first met with the inspiration to write this post. An evening romp through my 80’s music playlist led me to a series of soulful classics by artists with skin much paler than my own.
And I don’t mean Al B. Sure, Vanessa Williams, or the ever brightening Michael Jackson.
No, we’re talking about Wham, Michael McDonald, and Hall & Oates. And if I’m going to listen to Wham, then I have to get a little George Michael in there. And the same goes for Michael McDonald…I had to dig around and pull out some Doobie Brothers…and Steely Dan.
And…know what, how about some Bobby Caldwell, Sting, Elton John, and Genesis, while we’re at it. Oh yeah, gotta hear me some early Bee Gees, too.
And the ladies…I can’t forget the ladies. Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Barbara Streisand…(for some reason, I didn’t even think about Teena Marie…she pretty much transcends race in my head, I guess!)
I just went on and on like that for about an hour before I started thinking about all of the more recent kats who have helped to maintain, and in some ways redefine, the genre. Robin Thicke was at the top of my list, followed closely by Remi Shand, and to a lesser extent, Jon B.
I quickly ran out of American artists. So, my mind skipped like a flat stone across the pond to our former colonialists…the Brits. We’re talking about a culture that helped to maintain the integrity of Soul Music though the American Dark Ages of the 80’s and early 90’s. And when we tried to reclaim the mantle in and around ’95, they weren’t letting it go easily.
It was 1776 all over again. They threw Lisa Stansfield at us. Then, Jamiroquai along with Sade’s band, Sweetback. Yeah, they stumbled a little bit with Joss Stone. But little did most of us know that they were developing a secret weapon and they were holding out for the right time to bomb their former prize colony.
They came back at us like the War of 1812….in 2007. We were caught completely off guard, as witnessed at the Grammy’s of that same year.
This weapon was called…Amy Winehouse!
Amy Winehouse, Amy Winehouse, Amy Winehouse!!!
Back to Black was all I needed to conclude my night of Blue Eyed indulgence. It was “Just Friends” specifically that shut things down for me. I was ready for bed, and feeling supremely fulfilled, I knew I’d sleep well!
But the blog was never written. I just kept having all of these unique thoughts and experience that I wanted to share, instead, and I had to push back the post’s creation further and further.
Then, tragedy struck this past Saturday afternoon, or in the morning…depending on which side of the Atlantic you happened to live. That powerhouse soulstress named Amy was found dead in her London “flat”. When James Brown died on Christmas Day 2006, I happened to be home, by myself. I showed my respect by playing Mr. Brown’s music the ENTIRE DAY!
I wanted to mourn Ms. Winehouse in a similar fashion. The problem was…I only knew of the one album she produced, the aforementioned Back to Black. James Brown’s catalogue was ridiculous. I could listen to him all day and not repeat the same songs more than twice. How was I going to pull off such a similar feat with only one album to play?
My homegirl, Courtney, quickly hipped me to Amy’s first album Frank. Although it was released in Europe seven years earlier, it was brand new to me…and an instant classic. Then, my boy Daniel told me about the Frank and Back to Black B-side selections. All of a sudden, I had a treasure trove of Amy Winehouse music I was never aware of…until her death prompted my investigation.
It became clear to me why I hadn’t been allowed to write this post ’til right now. Because I was unaware that I needed to show my appreciation and gratitude to the ultimate Soul Sista of a different hue.
Amy…I’m glad I discovered just in time how much you will be missed!