Amy

I saw the Oscar-winning documentary Amy the other day.  It’s the harrowing story of the decline and fall of Amy Winehouse, who managed to put out one great album on her way to an early grave.  I liked the film, but there was about a half hour too much harrow for my taste. And, as a friend of mine said, “We’ve seen this story already, haven’t we?”

Of course we have.  And the story has been even more poignant.  Here is Amy Winehouse singing “Back to Black” live.

The song is pretty good, and her voice is great, but she isn’t much of a performer.  It’s kind of hard to tell that this is supposed to be a sad song.

Now let’s take a look at Janis Joplin singing “Summertime” in Sweden in July 1969.

This performance is not just great; it takes you to a whole other plane of existence.  Could anyone pour more of herself into a song than Janis Joplin?  She was dead 15 months later.

Joe Cocker, RIP

Here is Joe Cocker at Woodstock.  I was at Woodstock (weren’t you?) but somehow I have no memory of this amazing performance.  I did see him in concert a few years ago, minus the tie-dyed t-shirt and without quite so much of the spasmodic air guitar.  But he still had The Voice.

“I Feel Fine” is 50!

Yesterday we pondered the genius of John Donne.  Today we honor another British genius, John Lennon.  Fifty years ago this week “I Feel Fine” was the number one song in the US.  Seems like only yesterday.

Donne was a great poet, but it clearly never occurred to him to add guitar feedback to a rock-and-roll song.  It fell to Lennon to come up with this idea three centuries later.