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Re: Amy

PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2015 1:55 pm
by Gordon Neill
Having not seen the film, I hesitate to get too involved in arguing its pros and cons. But I read Garth's on the stage schools as part of a wider issue. Yes, all stories and films, however much they are based on fact, are selective. The only way of avoiding that would be for the film to last almost 28 years ('it felt like it' I can almost hear Garth mutter). But Garth seemed to suggest that one of his problems with the film was that it promoted a certain tabloid-type take on her life, as tortured artist/victim. Whereas, arguably, the reality was possibly a bit more complicated. Perhaps her successes should have been seen as a shared effort (little mention of Mark Ronson, the Daptones, or the coaching at stage school) rather than simply down to a gifted individual. Nothing controversial about that, to my mind. Much the same could be said for the likes of Aretha (compare her early CBS stuff to her Atlantic glory days). And, rather than simply being portrayed as some innocent victim (I'm assuming that is the general drift of the film but, as I say, I haven't seen it), she might also be seen as a fully-grown adult who brought it on herself. In other words, real life is more complicated. But maybe that's for Garth to argue, once he gets his gum shield back on.....

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2015 4:55 pm
by AndyM
Others who have seen the film didn't regard it as simply a tale of Amy as innocent victim, that was the way Garth chose to interpret it. But, as another not-yet-seen it, Gordon, I can't say which party were 'correct'. (Not that documentaries are about being 'correct' anyway.)

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 10:33 am
by Garth Cartwright
Thanks for the comments Hugh and Gordon - at least you debate the artist rather than indulge in shrill invective. Andy, who exactly have i driven off this forum? I seem to remember the mad American finally quitting after one too many bouts with you - I'd stopped engaging with him years before - and good riddance.

Perhaps you could explain a few other of your comments? "Macho Balkans". Exactly what is this? You mean my writings on the string band Taraf de Haidouks? Old men playing violins and accordions are "macho"? Or on the likes of Esma Redzepova, Gabi Lunca, Sofi Marinova, Amira Mendunjanin, Romica Puceanu etc. All very talented and very strong women. Or the female choirs and folk dancers? Or perhaps "macho" you mean my writing on Azis - the most interesting gay artist from anywhere this century. I still get emails from LGBT academics from across the globe who have read my writings on Azis - not you, obviously, but your dismissal of an entire region's musical culture suggests both ignorance and bigotry. And what's your problem with macho? You love Faces-Stones-Free-T Rex - a whole heap of cockrockers. But they're white and British, so that's OK?

And the "wanting to be black" is your most absurd slur, especially when there were none more desperate to do this than Amy. Always wanting to be down with the rappers and even trying to speak and sing in cod patois. And the live clips of her with a pair of black male backing singers doing shuck and jive shit is the most Uncle Tom thing I've seen since Vanilla Ice surrounded himself with black dancers. Why did Amy hire them? To help her sound blacker. She was desperately unhappy about many things in her life and is not the first artist who wants to be something more 'street', more 'real'.

Amy had talent, no doubt about it, but it rarely came into focus. Frank is garbage, like Lily Allen with hipster jazzbo pretensions but without hooks. Which is why Island hired Lily's producer to helm BIB – get someone who can craft a hit. And BIB is a retro take on what the Shangri Las and Supremes and co' did far more effectively 50 years ago. You love it? Fine. My criticism of the film re-BIB is its absolute lack of engagement with those who helped shape BIB - musicians, producer, stylists, Island head honchos etc. Amy is the artist up front but a lot of time and money went into making that record work: in appearance and sound the Amy of BIB is vastly different from that of Frank. And it is never mentioned why beyond a quick TV soundbite of Amy saying she had left jazz behind cos its elitist. This is after an hour of the film pushing that she never wanted to be a star but a jazz singer. Thus my point about how the film fails to discuss the industry and how it creates and markets success.

Yes, I know you have PK roots, we have discussed shops and such. So do I, having lived here since 94. Nothing "cool" about it, Brighton rating infinitely higher as to places where I'd prefer to live, but SE15 is a good community, not yet overrun by the wealthy. Why you feel the need to sneer and smear is quite beyond me. Your comments about veteran black American vocalists - who made their best recordings when Amy's age (or younger) - come across as misogynistic and tinged with racism and ageism. If you really think Amy is superior to Irma or Candi or Aretha, well, there really is nothing more to say. Everyone else here debates the film and the artist - you seem to think being Queen Bitch wins the day. Try a little tenderness?

Re: Amy

PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 12:08 pm
by AndyM
Ah, I was warned by a mutual friend that you wouldn't let this drop.

So, let me answer a few pertinent points.

1) Hugh and Gordon didn't exactly "debate the artist". Hugh quoted some of your, uh, rhetorical flourishes (see, I can be generous) in order to demonstrate the hypocrisy of you criticising others for being 'abusive'. He didn't labour the point, being less cantankerous than me or you, but the implication is clear. Gordon mostly addressed what he perceived as shortcomings in my response to your original broadsides.

2) My 'macho Balkan' remark was a barb designed to hurt. Glad to see my aim hasn't deserted me.

3) Thank you for your authoritative ruling on who counts as "the most interesting gay artist from anywhere this century". I really don't know how us poor ignorant queers would cope without you Great Straight White Hunters explaining our culture to us.

4) If you think T.Rex can just be called cockrockers.......well, for once words fail me.

5) The most high-profile person you drove off this Forum was Howard Male, who still, when invited by myself and others, to rejoin, cites your verbal hostility towards him as the reason he would rather stay away. Now I happen to think he's being unduly sensitive, but you did ask me for names.

6) The whole 'wanting to be black' thing we'll have to agree to disagree about. It's not a unique failing of yours, indeed most Forum contributors fall prey to it to one degree or another. And without the driving force of that that fantasy of wanting to be '''''cooler'''', the vast majority of post-1950s white popular music wouldn't have existed. I have often suggested in lectures to my students that the three great impetuses of British popular culture have been white folks wanting to be black, straight folks wanting to be gay, and middle-class folks wanting to be working-class. It's a massive generalisation, of course, but it gets them thinking and there's more than a grain of truth in it.

7) Lily Allen is shit -- now THERE we can agree (and can we chuck Flozzence and her Poxy Machine in for good measure).

8) Do I think Amy W is superior to Aretha F or Candi S or Irma T ? In order: of course not, on balance no, and probably yes. ((Although I only invoked their names to point out certain tendencies in your, excuse this term, aesthetic, never once to pass judgement on their work.)

8) Queen Bitch ? Thanks!! Not only an accolade but one of my very favourite David Bowie songs.

9) Try a little tenderness ? More than happy to, but look over your original post on the film and admit that you're just as happy to dish out verbal slaps as I am. Which is why I responded in the way I did, and which is why we seemed to be locked into this bear-hug tarantella of mutual recrimination.