For me, there’s at least one Amy Winehouse song for every mood. There’s one for every hour of the day! I’ve adored her image and her music from a young age, and Back to Black was one of the first CDs I bought, followed quickly by Amy’s first album Frank!
It wasn’t until later in life that I truly appreciated Amy’s music and what it meant to me. I understood her on different levels as I grew up. When the album Lioness: Hidden Treasures was released after she died, I bought that CD too and listened to it on repeat. In my humble opinion, the album left out some of the best of Amy’s unreleased and lesser known music. So, on her birthday this year I’ll be remembering her in style with some of her greatest hidden treasures.
First up is possibly my favourite song by Amy, ‘When My Eyes’. This song is full of soul and pure emotion, and it really shows off Amy’s vocal range and musical creativity. ‘When My Eyes’ was struck off Amy’s first album Frank, and captures a time in her life before she turned to escapism with drugs and alcohol, when making her music provided the refuge she needed. In the song she references some of her most esteemed inspirations, such as Dinah Washington and Frank Sinatra.
Next, is another favourite, ‘My Own Way’. Recorded in 2001 when Amy was seventeen, two years before Frank was released. Like many of her songs, it speaks volumes about Amy’s relationships and underpins her status as a one-of-a-kind. I’m sure like me you can appreciate the message of this particular song. It was designed to appeal to a greater audience and attract greater attention from studios in a time ruled by pop girl groups and boy bands.
‘Alcoholic Logic’ is a fairly self-explanatory title to a fantastic number. It alludes to a particularly damaging time in Amy’s career, and relates her substance abuse and self-harm with her tragic and destructive love life. I think ‘Do Me Good’ is another quintessentially Amy tune, and again offers subtle commentary on relationships. This song was released on the first version of Amy’s ‘Rehab’ CD, although seems to have slipped through the cracks on platforms such as Spotify. I love her song ‘Detachment’, which I can of course empathise with. Like many of her songs it tells the story of a fed up woman leaving behind a fragile man. Relatable – in a gay way.
Her cover of The Beatles song ‘All My Loving’ is absolutely stunning. I’m very picky with cover versions, especially of The Beatles, but Amy demonstrated over and over again we need not worry about her in that respect.
‘Trilby’ is another great Amy track. Clearly heavily influenced by jazz, this song refers to Amy’s overindulgent shopping habits! Whilst many of Amy’s other songs hint or vividly describe her other addictions, ‘Trilby’ shows a more playful side to her wit and sense of humour. ‘Best For Me’ is another great. This collaborative jazz track is a song about deep and innocent love and soulful connection. It hints at many aspects of Amy’s friendship with Tyler James, and is a song that brings me comfort and hope for the future.
‘Jazz n Blues’ is cited as Amy’s first release, it’s quite slow but shows her love of jazz from an early age. The song doesn’t demonstrate Amy’s full vocal range, or the power in her voice and lyrics which she polished later in her career, although it’s a wonderful song and an interesting look at the star as she was developing her recognised style. Her beautiful song ‘Long Day’ has a rather cheerful backtrack, which completely juxtaposes the lyrics. The song speaks of a talented but reluctant public figure, who never really wanted to be famous, being drained and broken by her own fame and notoriety.
I’ve always loved Amy’s quite frank (pun intended) and caustic commentary on society and relationships. Her energy and her pure, extraordinary, liquid talent is something that continues to inspire so many of us to this day. Her song ‘Get Over It’ is another brilliant tune to go along with the likes of ‘Stronger Than Me’.
I love her live cover of ‘Lullaby of Birdland’. This song is now available on Spotify in the recent BBC release of Amy’s live performances. Amy’s serene cover of ‘Moon River’ rivals some of the best versions I’ve heard. I mean, damn. Another chilled and aloof Amy song – ‘I Should Care’ doesn’t get enough credit. It is also now available, however, on Spotify in the BBC release of Amy’s live performances.
‘Procrastination’ has an interesting history and I was unsure whether or not to include it in this list. The song of course refers to the state of putting things off, in Amy’s case making new music after releasing Frank. I’ve read, however, that Amy didn’t want this song to be released and so it’s not been included in any of the albums even since she died. I feel it’s an important part of her life though, and actually a difficult part of the lives of all artists.
Potentially her best song, ‘Beat the Point to Death’ is another one of my favourites. Let’s face it, they’re all my favourites, her entire discography! This song has the feel of a nineties RnB track, and has been influenced by the likes of Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill.
Hopefully you will have found a few tunes in this article that you love as much as I do. Among my other favourites of Amy’s songs are ‘He Can Only Hold Her’, ‘Some Unholy War’, ‘Stronger Than Me’, her covers of ‘Teach Me Tonight’, ‘Tenderly’, and ‘Valerie’, and of course ‘You Know I’m No Good’, and ‘Tears Dry’.