MAY 19, 2017
“ADDICTED” (WRITER: AMY WINEHOUSE)
ARTIST: AMY WINEHOUSE
RELEASED 2006 ON BACK TO BLACK LP
When Amy Winehouse partied herself to death a few years ago, the world lost a hell of a singer and songwriter.
Before she left, she released two albums, Frank and Back to Black, and recorded enough material for another two or three. Bonus editions of Back to Black, for example, featured raucous versions of first and second-wave ska classics.
One track on the British version of Back to Black and NOT the original American edition is “Addicted,” a black-comedy character study which is very simple to hear as a self-examination of Amy Winehouse’s often troubled life.
The song’s protagonist is laying down the law to her roommate. The roommate’s boyfriend has been smoking all of the singer’s marijuana, and unless they bring her a bag of weed in apology, Mr. Wonderful is no longer welcome on the premises.
It’s a slice of life full of wordplay, real talk, and uncomfortable revelations about the singer’s own needs and desires. I’ll leave it to you to find the funniest lyrics in the song, but one of my favorite couplets is
Don’t make no difference if I end up alone;
I’d rather have myself and smoke my homegrown.
The producer of “Addicted,” Salaam Remi, bathed Winehouse’s lead and backing vocals in tremolo guitar and R&B horns. The rhythm section plays Motown parts with Memphis aggression; it’s a great soul fusion.
It’s some kind of stupid that the writer and singer of “Addicted” died from alcohol poisoning, her system weakened by bulimia and the consequences of years of fast living. And in retrospect, it’s easy to see how joking about addiction, even to something as benign as pot, isn’t funny.
But Amy Winehouse lived her own life and chose to produce her own art. She had agency in this, if perhaps in not much else. And in that spirit, I can still listen to this song and marvel at her vocal ability, her humor, and her nerve. And wish that she’d had time to keep growing.