Album of the Day: Back To Black by Amy Winehouse (10-Year Anniversary)

Amy Winehouse - Back To Black

Happy 10 years to Back To Black. I love Amy. Obsessed, actually. She’s recapped my less-than-desriable love life from 18-26 – and so perfectly. I started with her catalog at this album with “Tears Dry On Their Own,” and am obsessed with everything she has done, down to the B-sides, the demos, the “hidden treasures.”

Anyone who can translate heartbreak to words and music so soulfully, with a tinge of raunch, rules my speakers. And doing it without fear; without trying to please.

Societal standards turn shade at people, especially women, who speak up and out about uncomfortable subjects – hold in your feelings, don’t share the struggles of being abused mentally and physically. I say, speak up about it! And so did Amy. Women who have been through it and survived need to wear that turmoil on their sleeve, and need inspire other women who are on the same boat, but too afraid, embarrassed, depressed, etc. to speak out or stand up for themselves.

Although Amy succumbed to drugs, alcoholism, self-mutilation, and a lot of horrible acts because of Blake, she’s strong for putting it into words. I truly believe that love killed her; Blake was a manipulative person with false hope and empty promises. Love is blind. Pun intended. Don’t let someone bring you down like that, ever. No matter how much love is in the heart. It’s a facade.

Thank you, Amy, for being the soundtrack to all of my heartbreak from emotional abuse, manipulation, cheating, excuses, and what have you that has built up over the years. You make women believe that their feelings are not inferior.

Because it’s my album of the day, I am going to break down and talk on some of my favorite tracks on the album.

“Rehab”
This was basically the recap of the documentary Amy. The rest of the songs describe the finer details.

“Back To Black”
If you’ve never been cheated on by someone you love, then you might not fully connect with the emotion exuded. What Amy does in this song, is put the pain into words and music in such a way, your heart sinks as you’re digesting each verse.

It’s graphic, it’s vulnerable, it’s angry, it’s real.

He left no time to regret
Kept his dick wet
With his same old safe bet
Me and my head high
And my tears dry
Get on without my guy
You went back to what you knew
So far removed from all that we went through
And I tread a troubled track
My odds are stacked
I’ll go back to black

How real, people? Real.

When a cheating partner goes back – to anything.. a former flame, a convenient friend – it’s escape. Escape is comfort, and comfort is escape. Escape from hurt, stress. Escape from reality. Life.

“Lose Is A Losing Game”
It’s kind of like that Oscar Wilde quote that goes, “Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love: it is the faithless who know love’s tragedies.”

And if you had crushes on the playground, peer pressure in high school, general curiosity while away at college, or the post-college discovery phase, you’re either going to love, or be loved. And it won’t always be in sync. All of this is why love is a tragedy. Someone is always going to be more in love than the other, so someone will end up heartbroken. That’s all until you find that perfect match; I’m not sure that exists.

Though I battled blind
Love is a fate resigned
Memories mar my mind
Love is a fate resigned

Over futile odds
And laughed at by the Gods
And now the final frame
Love is a losing game

And everything that I described above is what she is saying in this song.

“Tears Dry On Their Own”
This was the first song that got me into the album. My ex-boyfriend Kevin raved over this song – I’m pretty sure he played it for a week straight on repeat, which I didn’t mind. C’mon, Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson is credited on the song for the “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” music. Can’t hate!

I didn’t look into further until maybe a year later. To be honest, I was not into the mainstream culture of “Rehab,” and avoided getting into her because I was a pretentious prick. (I still am, but less now.) I started spinning this track on my Motown, soul, disco and funk online radio show called The Brew with Brandi on Jammin 105 as a “future gold” go-to. Of course I’m in love with this track. Between the familiar and comforting music, the lyrics bring you back to reality.

All I can ever be to you is a darkness that we knew
And this regret I got accustomed to
Once it was so right
When we were at our height

Above, there’s love, there’s regret, and in the chorus there’s sadness:

He walks away
The sun goes down
He takes the day, but I’m grown
And in your way
In this blue shade
My tears dry on their own

No one every wants to be the one to walk away. Especially if you love them, and know how they’ll react. Independence and pseudo-confidence mixed with empathy never leaves you making decisions for yourself.

Even if I stop wanting you
And perspective pushes through
I’ll be some next man’s other woman soon
I cannot play my self again
I should just be my own best friend
Not fuck my self in the head with stupid men

And that’s the sad truth. After so many instances of betrayal, mistrust, and hurt from a relationship, you start to lose resect for yourself. You bank on belonging to someone else (even if it’s a cheap kick) to justify the independence and to mask the heartache.

And Amy’s last three lines of that verse is key: All women should be their own best friend. If not, that’s how you end up in this vicious circle.

“Wake Up Alone”

When I catch myself, I do a one-eighty
I stay up, clean the house
At least I’m not drinking
Run around just so I don’t have to think about thinking

He’s fierce in my dreams, seizing my guts
He floats me with dread
Soaked in soul
He swims in my eyes by the bed
Pour myself over him
Moon spilling in
And I wake up alone

Going through many on-and-off long-term relationships, you experience more break ups than the “normal” person who just loves and leaves – the proud folks. The amount of times I’ve cleaned my apartment, done laundry, and anything to keep me moving, and my mind not moving, is astronomical. This is probably why I am borderline OCD.

This kind of addicting and traumatic love creates a type of PTSD, hence the vivid dreams.

“He Can Only Hold Her”
Again, love’s tragedies step in, but with a damn sexy beat and brass.

e can only hold her for so long
The lights are on, but no one’s home
She’s so vacant
Her soul is taken
He thinks, what’s she running from?

Now, how can he have her heart
When it got stole?
So he tries to pacify her
‘Cause what’s inside her never dies

Here, love doesn’t align. It’s elsewhere for one, and present for the other.

Happy 10, Back To Black. An album that makes people feel; it translates the darkest part of the human heart – place where most are afraid to tread.

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