Art: Delivering Joy, Reliving Pain

Whether she was bopping in infamous pumps or skipping in Capezios, when Amy was on stage you knew she was never going to lie to you. When she was unhappy or bored, you knew it. When she was having as much fun as you were, you knew it. Great technical skills absent honesty will always disappoint, and the JadeMermaid never let it happen.

Amy’s most famous songs were largely about once hopeful love gone sour. She never meant it to be that way, but an honest artist will always insist that life must interfere with the broken fantasy of hopes, goals and wishes; and, that their story must be told as it really happened, as it was really felt, honestly.

Writing desperately sad songs was no challenge for Amy. The birthing of the words and music was cathartic and remedial. But, when those songs had to be delivered honestly scores of times before expectant crowds, they had to be a source of torment to a fragile and generous heart. It is simply not possible for an artist to avoid reliving the pain that spawned their work, when they know they must – each and every time – convey that work with honesty. There was no rote delivery with Amy, even if she wished it so. You felt the pain of the songs, because she was feeling it anew and right in front of you.

Even Amy’s magnificent humor and perfect comedic timing often merely masked sadness. Her frequently amusing changeups of both lyrics and intonations were no doubt about keeping things fresh and interesting for herself via experimentation, as much as they were about sending fun treats to the crowd. But, even inside of the humorous alterations, pain resided.

Even her covers could house the pain/pleasure, comedy/tragedy gremlins. In her most famous live performance of The Zutons’ Valerie with Ronson and the orchestra, Amy couldn’t help herself; she had to personalize the alterations. Amy knew how much we love drama, but the mischievous and “in your face” rebellious side of her didn’t hate it either.

I’m gonna get you out of jail

Put the house on up for sale

I got you a good lawyer

I know you didn’t catch a ten…

She knew that we knew she was kidding on the square and telling us that the drama – whatever cause or importance we assigned to it – was real, that it was hurting her feelings badly, and that the Londoner side of her could poke defensive fun at the circumstance. We were in on the “joke,” but for soft Amy, humor ill-salved the wounds that she laid bare every time she graced a stage. That is how an honest artist plays it straight with fans that adore her. And, honest and straight was the only way the adorable Amy knew how to play it.


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