The first to be heard from in a generation are the first to depart. Now we have some people who came of age in the postmillenial era for whom time is up, and Amy Jade Winehouse is a very notable departure.
She oozed both complexity and sincerity, two qualities that forge dynamism in personality when they intertwine. Yet she was also a throwback, even derivative. Part of the reason she was familiar to people outside her age group was because we recognized people like Sarah Vaughn in her sound. She was playing to type and playing against it, a tatted angry strumpet with Jagger-level lips and punk trimmings, yet fronting a large band that often sounded and even looked like it was ready to play the Biltmore grand ballroom. She cut her heroin with chandeliers.
She looked pure rock, even in Fendi, lived and drank pure rock junk, and sang pure American soul. Like nearly all the great English rock performers, she subtly strip-mined a private lode of uniquely American music for something that she could both pay tender homage and make her very own.
And like those others, she was a hybrid that was impossible to knock off. I always thought that a large part of her identity--the part that made her act a sincere one--was being conscious of the irony of performing on television, singing songs that could work on television, in the Age of Google/YouTube.
Thanks to Google/YouTube, she was hated as much as she was loved. Here, I suspect, was her real appeal to people her own age, who are always hearing that they don't measure up in some way, usually from people who don't measure up themselves. For dealing with that role alone while remaining true to her path, I both mourn her and admire her. Her death, like Morrison's or Cobian's, is a shocking but also an unrepentant one.