THE GREATEST OF ALL TUNES (G.O.A.T.) is a series of posts, producing my 100 favorite songs of all time. The master list is here, and I update it about every two weeks or when I have another 10 songs or so.
“They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said No No No.” The song was a tongue-in-cheek look at the effects of alcoholism, but in retrospect after Winehouse’s tragic death it’s not very funny.
Amy first hit the scene with Frank, an album that got critical acclaim but didn’t break the artist in the U.S. it was her follow up, the 5-time Grammy winning, multiple-platinum album Back to Black that made her one of the most famous female R&B acts in music history. Four years later, she drank herself to death.
Back to Black eschewed the jazz of Frank and stood squarely in the realm of the old Motown sound of the 1960s. The music was provided by the Dap-Kings (who regularly back another retro soul artist, Sharon Jones), and was produced by Mark Ronson, who is now best known for his work with Bruno Mars. There probably wouldn’t have been the opportunity for Ronson or Mars absent Winehouse blazing the path.
Rehab was remarkable because it took that traditional doo-wop sound and used it to speak with blunt honesty about alcoholism, and truly put the listener in the mind of a drunk who is hell-bent on death and full of denial. We all knew it was autobiographical, but we didn’t know it was foreseeing the future.
Further listening: Back to Black, F Me Pumps, You Know That I’m No Good.