The most effective music for inner transformation is that which is the most emotionally expressive. Artists who are deeply raw in their delivery are the ones who break open listeners’ hearts, in direct reflection of the artist’s own vulnerability. Amy Winehouse was one of those artists. Her song “Some Unholy War” (Back To Black 2006), is a prime example of her talent to clearly express her passion and sadness. Her voice wailing, she sings of an unapologetic attachment to her lover and their doomed affair: “I refuse to let him go / at his side and drunk on pride / we wait for the blow” … “I’ll battle til this bitter finale” — echoing sentiments of the earliest blues singers like Big Mama Thornton, May Rainey and Bessie Smith. For example, lyrics from Smith’s “‘Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do” state “I’d rather my man would hit me / Than to jump up right and quit me” — the complex paradox of a strong woman attached to a destructive love is a common theme sung by female blues and jazz artists throughout time.
In his poem “Who Says Words With My Mouth?” Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic, said: “Who says words with my mouth? Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking… This poetry, I never know what I’m going to say. I don’t plan it.”1 When Winehouse was introducing her performance of “Some Unholy War” at the 2006 Glastonbury Festival, she expressed a similar idea about how the lyrics of the song were crafted: “This is the first song I ever wrote about Blake. I didn’t even know what it was about, and I still don’t.” The most pure art is created in a state of open flow, without judgment or interruption by the creator. Leonardo DaVinci said “tears come from the heart, not from the brain.” One of the reasons that Amy Winehouse is such an incredible artist is because she creates from this place of empty presence, fully available to channel her emotions. We appreciate all artists who are courageous enough to be so vulnerable.
Photo by Fionn Kidney (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]