Photo by Artotem
Letter from James Mullineaux

In 1994 Kurt Cobain took his own life at the age of 27.  I was all of 18 and completely destroyed.  If you listen to Nirvana's music, you knew he was a troubled man.  Kurt felt and conveyed a profound agony extremely well. Despite the obviousness of his issues, I was optimistic that he'd get it figured out, kick heroine, and join the rest of the world.  His death not only hurt because he was a voice of my generation, but also because he crushed that optimism.

Fast forward to 2007.  As soon as I heard "Rehab," two thoughts went through my head.  The first was that the song sends a crappy message, which it does.  The second was that despite the smokey wonderfulness of her voice, one shouldn't get too enamored with Amy Winehouse.  When your debut song's refrain revolves around being proud in not receiving help for a significant, life-threatening problem, well the writing is more than on the wall.  

Needless to say, when I heard the news of her death a couple days ago, my reaction was pretty much that of indifference.  "What'd you expect?"  The end result, her burning out not fading away, seemed to not only be predicted by her, but it appeared to be something she wanted.  Part of me thinks this is a crass cynicism that comes from age and having been burnt before.  Another part of me thinks it's really just believing what people say.

When Cobain took his own life, my parents offered their sympathy.  Even though they didn't feel the loss they knew the feeling having lost Jim, Jimi, and Janis.  And that's where I am today.  To those mourning the loss of Amy Winehouse, I know how you feel despite not feeling it myself.  Not only is she gone, but with her went a little sliver of your optimism in the human condition.  

© James Mullineaux, 2011