A Bad Woman Feelin’ Good

In my continuing attempts to stave off terminal geezerhood, I am perpetually on the lookout for new artists to dig. One of the newest is neo-soul singer Amy Winehouse. Her first American album, Back to Black, was released last fall, but it’s just in the last few weeks, since an appearance on Late Night With David Letterman, that she’s started to become a star over here. (A 2003 album, Frank, was released only in the UK.)

I’ve seen some stuff online suggesting that Winehouse is just another in a long line of soul imitators (a charge often tossed at white singers, most recently at Joss Stone), people who copy the mannerisms to fake the feel of real soul music. But on Back to Black, she’s backed by the Dap-Kings, a band we like a lot around here, and their presence provides a measure of soul credibility. Not that Winehouse doesn’t have credibility of her own. Soul derives from the blues, and female blues singing was once described as “a bad woman feeling good.” Winehouse has been living the blues lifestyle for a while, despite her age (23); she’s fodder for British tabloids, having appeared drunk in public more than once, and she’s known for drinking onstage while performing. Nothing sums up her attitude more than the terrific single from Back to Black, “Rehab,” in which she sings, “They tried to make me go to rehab/I said no, no, no.”

Last month, O-Dub at Soul Sides wrote about Winehouse, and addressed the question of authenticity in the wake of her sold-out show in San Francisco, and wondering whether Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings would have sold out the same venue. His answer (and mine) is “probably not.” Which, as he acknowledges, opens up yet another can of worms regarding race in America.

That’s a subject I don’t have the patience for today. I just want to listen to the music. O-Dub embedded the video for “Back to Black,” which was the tune I intended to put up all the while I was thinking about this post, so he’s saved me the trouble. But it would be worth your effort to head over to the Hype Machine to find more Amy—there’s lots of it out there. If you’re a soul music fan, check it out and decide for yourself how real it is. (And then tell the whole class in the comments.)

(Buy Amy here)

3 thoughts on “A Bad Woman Feelin’ Good

  1. Thanks for the heads-up! I’ve seen the name but not checked her sound out yet. (Didn’t John Lennon sing “I Don’t Wanna Be a Geezer” on “Imagine”?)

  2. I’ve heard most of “Back to Black” via the Internet. It’s quite good. Whether she’s here to stay, we’ll just have to see. For now, enjoy.

  3. I read O-Dub’s article and have heard the album. I do think he’s on target to a certain degree – I’ve seen Sharon Jones a couple of times and she was AWESOME, but in interviews Jones has said that she was literally told that she was too old, too heavy and too dark-complected by record executives. So obviously, Amy Winehouse is the opposite of all three of those, plus she has a crazy life to go with it – she’s in like Flynn! I do enjoy her stuff, however, especially “Rehab” and a couple of others (some stuff sounds like a warmed-over Lauren Hill, though, but when she’s on, she’s ON).

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