Let’s say another sad goodbye to Amy Winehouse, dead almost a year. Poor Amy was brilliant, but she put her self-destructive hobbies (drinking, crack cocaine) before her work. What’s really sad is that the very thing that made her such a bolt of lightning is what helped kill her – her image. Again with image. It’s a powerful, powerful thing. Some people get along fine without one (see my recent post on Creedence). Some people develop one so strong they can’t be separated from it, come what may. There’s no arguing that Amy Winehouse was phenomenally gifted, regardless of what she looked like. You don’t need to see her to fall in love with her music. But there’s also no arguing that her wide popularity was a result of the image she created for herself. She started out as a talented, regular-pretty, jazz-influenced singer-songwriter. Which she could easily have made a steady, low-celebrity career out of. But then she transformed herself, in short time, into the unforgettable big-haired, tattooed bad girl we love to remember. She was a little scary, plenty wild, but yet appealingly vulnerable underneath all that eyeliner. She may have like to look a little retro, but she was thoroughly a modern girl. We related to her because though she lived hard and made mistakes – a lot of ‘em – she still seemed like a good person on the inside. The bad girl with a heart of gold – a very appealing and marketable image. She must have felt enormous pressure to hold on to that image, even as her personal problems began to overwhelm her. When your biggest hit is pretty much saying that rehab is for sissies, how on earth are you going to kick drinking and drugs without looking like a sellout? You can’t. She tried as hard as she could, but she kept backsliding. Towards the end it almost seemed like being a drug addict was her career instead of music. It must have felt that way sometimes.