On occasion I am reminded of something that happened when I was in high school. I had a friend who was chronically late to class on account of the fact that he sometimes didn’t properly set his alarm clock. He was asked not to return to that school the following year — it was the Peddie School and they expected excellence from their students and that included showing up to class more often than not. I felt as though it was something that I could have helped prevent and that I failed him as a friend by not helping him get to his classes on time. A friend of mine at the time told me that this was not the case and that I could not be responsible for his choice to set his alarm properly.

This was brought to the forefront of my mind when I discovered on Saturday night about the tragic death of the amazingly talented musician Amy Winehouse. What is really sad about her death to me is the fact that my immediate reaction upon hearing about it was not to think about what a loss it is for us as fans of good music but how unfortunately predictable it ultimately was — it seems like it was just a matter of time before something happened like this.

As of this writing the cause of Winehouse’s death is not known or at least not known to the public however I cannot help but think that it is no coincidence that she lived a hard life with drugs of the legal and illegal kind mixed with way too much alcohol and often looked as though she were near the point of death and now she is found in this tragic state in her home.

It is tragic because there surely could have been something that someone might have been able to do and yet we didn’t do enough. In our increasingly Panopticonic world we were perfectly aware of the level of sobriety of our dear Winehouse most of the time and yet we didn’t pull her back from the edge of the cliff before it was too late.

I feel a mixture of grief and regret, as though there might have been something I personally could have done to prevent it from happening. Yet it really is my high school experience all over again — I can’t possibly have my spoon in every pot checking to see if it is okay. We should remember her fondly and try to keep our Panopticonic eyes open to prevent future Winehouse tragedies from occurring.


  1. This is a difficult topic, Gordon. Amy’s situation is both complex and simple. I hope to address some of the murkiness in an article I’m working on right now for publication today in BolesBlues.com.

  2. Its just wrong is all I can say. I’ve never even had a chance two go see her or meet her and I live 2 hours from Austin. I was born and raised originally from New York and when it comes to music appreciation the U.S. is only interested in promoting the same ole same ole. Amy said it best in one of her interviews and its actually the reason why I’ve stopped listening to the radio many years ago since all thats played is old played out music and new music that doesn’t mean anything. She was 100% right but is unfortunately also why I did not know of her or of her music until recently. I believe that if I’d met Amy I feel we could have become great friends. God rest her sould!

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