Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse Dead at 27: Sad, not Tragic

Okay folks, I’m probably going to catch some web flack for this but since I run a blog in which I speak my mind, I intend to do so. I have heard people say that Winehouse’s death was a tragedy, that she was too young, and that it’s too soon to make rehab jokes. I say those same people should look up the word tragedy, that “too young” is relative, and that it’s never too soon to poke fun at public figures. Never.

The attacks on the U.S. in September of 2001 (9/11) were tragedies. A little girl ending up face down in a pool because Mom turned her head for a minute when she answered the phone is a tragedy. A police officer losing his life in a gun battle with bank robbers is a tragedy. A drugged-out musician dying because of an overdose is completely foreseeable and so therefore it’s just a waste of talent and life. Maybe a tragic waste, but that doesn’t make it a tragedy.

Don’t get me wrong, here, it’s super sad that *anyone* should die so young, no matter what the circumstances. But I feel that “tragedy” is too steep a word for the incident we are talking about here. I’m not a fan of death any more than the next guy but it is, after all, a fact of life.

Rock stars have, throughout the ages, been known to wreck their bodies with heavy drug and alcohol abuse. Just because we happen to “love” their work or appreciate that it contributed to a major change in the music industry does not make their deaths any more tragic than anyone else’s. In fact, maybe if they had gone on to live long lives they would sell out and folks would begin to loathe them and their styles. Ask a headbanger from the 1980s what he or she feels about Metallica after 1992. I can almost guarantee their answer will begin with an eye roll and a sigh.

Some things, in my opinion, are meant to get in, hit hard, and then fade out. Take Janis Joplin, for instance: what if she had lived on into her sixties and still produced music? Do you think it would even remotely resemble her hard-hitting, soulful tunes of the Woodstock era? My bet is no, and I would probably be right. People change. However, if their flame dies out shortly after they alter the world, then they live on forever in our hearts and minds as that world changer, not as an aged sell-out whose drug abuse has fried their brains to the point of Gary Buseyism. Wait, did I say that? Sorry, Gary.

My point is, that although it *is* indeed tragic in a sense for any life to be snuffed out so young, calling it a tragedy just doesn’t jive well with me. Not when it is so predictable. “The Day the Music Died” took place on February 3rd, 1959, when a plane crash took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. That was more of a tragedy than the demise of Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Bradley Nowell (Sublime), Lane Staley (Alice in Chains) or Jim Morrison (The Doors) because although planes do crash, the accident was unexpected and sudden. The demise of someone, rock star or not, with major dope or booze problems isn’t very difficult to predict.

All I’m asking you, the general public, to do is reevaluate your definition of tragic for a minute. See it from my point of view, or at least try. Why is the death of a high school kid who gets into drugs and overdoses any less “tragic” than when a rock or pop star does the same? The two differences I can see is that the star obviously has some talent, and we know their name. If that is what separates a back-page news blurb from a major tragedy, I want no part of either. If you ask me, a life being snuffed out before it has realized its potential is far more tragic than one which has been allowed to shine. Just sayin’.


Tiffany Madison said...

Well said. I really hope you will post this on my Facebook page. I think a few people would be interested to read it.

Anonymous said...

I agree. That's quite a reasonable "rant" if you want to categorize it as such.
Nice blog you got here :)

(How about a Follow button?)

Derek Odom said...

Thank you! Yea, you just fill out your email in the blank below the title and it does the rest. Not obvious though. I will look into changing it.

Frank Martin said...

Took the words right out of my mouth yet again Derek! I'm considering doing a rant on language, the use of words, and how we've basically neutered the language. Not sure when I'll post it, but I'll look forward to your thoughts on it.

Derek Odom said...

That's a good post idea. Looking forward to it!