Amy Winehouse is dead. Is anyone surprised? Or did we all sense the inevitability of it all across the arc of her short, and tortured, wasted, life? Does it matter that she’s now a member of the 27 Club? Or that she becomes yet another exemplar of the Mozart Syndrome?
To understand the deadly “Mozart Syndrome” we must first know the original Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in 1791 at the tender age of 35. He was at the peak of his musical brilliance. The world shook with his unexpected and untimely death and music hasn’t been the same since: We are still fascinated by his music and enchanted by his cheated genius.
The next matter you need to understand is the True Artist is born and not created.
The final moment you must accept is this: Every True Artist has a Death Wish. Few expect to live beyond the Mozart cutoff age of 35 for confirmation of their supreme SuperGenius.
The True Artists expects suffering and seeks out pain. The history of creating an aesthetic in the world is one of pain, misunderstanding beyond the middling mind, and an everlasting fight against the majority power.
Genius is the domain of the young, untempered, mind — when the True Artist sneaks beyond 35, the chances for creating Mozart-like art that crosses the Ages and bridges the tides is tremendously diminished.
Mozart Syndrome or not, the plain fact remains that Amy Winehouse threw away the promise of her life on drugs and booze. Her death matters not, but the manner in which she recklessly lived her life is a beacon from which we can’t squint away the blinding truth: Amy Winehouse was bored with living and she had a Death Wish. The immoral carelessness of the way she tended her talent in public cemented the degradation of her depressive mind. She lived in melancholia and stewed in the destructive state of a constant emotional desperation that felt no cure and instead of seeking rightful help, she turned to self-mediation instead. She actively denied the professional help around her and chose death over life.
If you go back and listen to “Back to Black” — her debut album in 2006 — there is an inherent sloppiness in the performance of every single song. Sure, we can excuse the remnants on her “jazzy style” and her “laid-back” way of singing, but if you listen closely to the songs, there is an uncomfortable distance that tells the careful critic that she isn’t really trying, she’s holding back, she has the potential to wow us, but she’s too tired to even try; and that is the true tragedy of Amy Winehouse’s life. She was gifted with a talent she never honored.
Sure, she performed. Sure, she made records. She never once sang her heart out. She never once gave us the every little bit of her where there was nothing else to give when she wasn’t under the influence. Amy Winehouse always had to hold back that smashing, SuperGenius, SuperStar, SuperNova within her because she used that spectacular gift to tend her addictions. Like every addict, Amy Winehouse believed she best shined in private with the tools of her demons and in the company of despair — while she was high or drunk or both — and that makes her someone to be avoided and never imitated and never pitied.