Creativity and Amy Winehouse

I got up this morning intending to post on the death of Amy Winehouse, on wasted talent and what the internet reaction to her passing says about us.   But before I started, I read a few of the blogs in my Blogs I Read list, and there, on thesinglecell, was the post that was germinating in my head, written better than I would have written it.    Titled Legends in Their Falling, I’d highly recommend it.  Meanwhile, I’ll offer another take on the same subject.  But not before saying that although I was not a fan of Amy Winehouse, I was familiar with her work … when I looked past her excesses and the sometimes melodramatic material, I saw a talented performer.   It’s sad that we will never get to see where those talents would take her but just as sad to see the cynical, voyeuristic reaction on the internet.  When I looked for performances on YouTube, there were more postings of her disastrous concert in Belgrade than of her numerous studio performances.  It’s an aspect of us as a species I find most distasteful.  While many of her performances are a little harsh for these Older Ears, I’ll offer this performance of Will You Love Me Tomorrow, recorded for the movie, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, as a tribute to her talent.

We tend to think of talent, particular creative talent, as a gift.  After all, we have special educational programs for gifted children, not cursed children.  Those of a spiritual bent will say that the gifts are from God or a Higher Power, while less spiritually inclined will leave the donor unstated.  But there is also within the conventional wisdom a notion that creatives are more prone to eccentricities, degrees of madness and self-destructive behavior, a notion that modern viral media does nothing to discourage.  Yes, I know that some of the excesses reported on the internet have more to do with fame or material wealth than creative talent (think Paris Hilton or Brittany Spears) and that it’s possible that Winehouse’s demise is due to these.   Still, even a publication as staid as Scientific American offered scientific evidence of why creative people are eccentric … eccentricities including Schumann believing that his musical compositions were dictated to him by Beethoven and other deceased luminaries from their tombs; and Charles Dickens fending off imaginary urchins with his umbrella as he walked the streets of London.  On, Michael Hathaway suggests that Natural talent is as much a curse as it is a gift … The naturally gifted person rarely sees her own talent as others see it. For her there is nothing special in what she does, and she may not value her abilities very highly.  Maybe because of this, when a natural talent like Amy Winehouse achieves fame, it feels undeserved.

In her book, Witness to the Fire: Creativity and the Veil of Addiction, Linda Schierse Leonard says that there is a parallel process occurring in the psyche of the addict and the creative person.  Both descend into chaos, into the unknown underworld of the unconscious.  Both are fascinated by what they find there.   Whether addicted or not at the beginning of their trip, some creatives discover, as Edgar Allan Poe did, that an addiction supports their journey.  Eventually, the addiction takes over, as addictions  do.   In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron attempts to dissolve the connection between creativity and madness by taking a spiritual approach … essentially, that all our gifts and works come not from us, but through us from our Creator.   On his CD set,  Kaballah Works, Rabbi David Aaron tells the story of a screenwriter who professes that all of his screenplays come from God.   No, Rabbi Aaron corrects him, Only the good ones.   Similarly, Twelve Step programs try to treat addictions as a spiritual disease.  Maybe if Amy Winehouse had said, yes, yes, yes, in her song, Rehab, she’d have discovered her spirit … or at least, the source of her pain.  I hope she’s at peace now, and singing somewhere.

I have no answers, only thoughts.   What do you think?

Explore posts in the same categories: music

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

4 Comments on “Creativity and Amy Winehouse”

  1. rdburnard Says:

    There are no answers, it just is what it is. Be still and get lost in the experience… without thoughts or words. Only then will the Truth be revealed.

  2. hawleywood40 Says:

    Hi Bud – I found your blog through Daily Post and gravitated to this particular post first because I’m in the process of writing my thoughts on this for my own blog. I subscribed to what I jokingly called “Hemingway Syndrome” (I am creative, therefore I am an addictive personality, and weird, and special, and not meant for the boring mundane average joe day-job) thing for years and kind of wore that flag like a cloak that probably annoyed the heck out of everyone who knew and loved me. As I get older, I still believe that creatives are prone to a weird and maybe impossible to explain internal struggle. But I also believe that using it as an excuse or a cloak is BS. Everyone has struggles and hardships. Everyone has mountains to climb. And if we stop wallowing in the self-destructive sides of our pesronalities and instead use our creativity to see the beauty and humor and fun in the world, we’ll want to stick around in it and share our gifts longer. It took me a long time to get there though, and yes, I still struggle : ). Greatly looking forward to reading more of your thoughts!

  3. undividing Says:

    I don’t think I have any answers either, but I will say that I have witnessed the connections between the slightly mad and the creative genius…I guess I tend to view it as a hyper-sensitivity…both to the fears and changing tides of outside forces, but also of the ideas and spiritual flow within the world, as well as themselves. If they are aware of this sensitivity they are better able to control it, but if they don’t see it, then they are victims to its instability.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: