On July 23, 2011, the world lost one of the greatest singer-lyricist of our time, Amy Winehouse.
Soul, jazz, R&B and hip hop, Winehouse infused it all with her own unique sound. But who influenced Winehouse’s music? Over the next few days TWM will look at the artists whose influence can be seen in her life and work. Chaka V.
“I love the drama. I love the atmosphere. I love the sound effects. And they wrote the most depressing song ever: “I Can Never Go Home Anymore.” When me and my boyfriend finished, I used to listen to that song on repeat, just sitting on my kitchen floor with a bottle of Jack Daniels. I’d pass out, wake up and do it again. My flatmate used to come in, leave bags of KFC and just leave. She’d be like, ‘There’s your dinner, I’m going out.’ It’s the saddest song in the world.” Amy Winehouse ~ Amy Winehouse: The Day She Came to Dingle
In the mid-sixties The Shangri-Las hit the music scene. The Queens New York girls consisted of two sets of sisters, Mary and Betty Weiss, and identical twins Marge and Mary Ann Ganser. Unlike the pristine “sugar and spice and everything nice” girl groups at the time, the Shangri-Las were edgy tough girls singing about shattering teenage heartbreak with a sound that – at times – borrowed from African-American R&B artists of the time.
Though the band was short-lived they had notable hits including, “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” and “Leader of the Pack.” And their bad girl street-smart personas went on to influence singers like Blondie.
But it was their heart wrenching song about young love that ends in tragedy, “I Can Never Go Home Anymore,” that captured Amy Winehouse’s imagination. The devastating tale is told by a young girl who shares how she had ignored her mother’s warnings that she was too young to be in love. Instead she ran away to be with “a boy” only to realize that she didn’t really love him. When she returned home she discovered that her mother had died from a broken heart. Distraught, she warns other young girls not to fall prey to her fate.
The foreboding tale of love gone wrong, love that results in dire consequences, would play itself out nearly forty-years later in Winehouse’s “Back to Black.”