Amy Winehouse in Belgrade

I’ve seen other perfomers falling off the stage and they were not even drunk! Besides Amy s music is not exactly a Strauss waltz!
I know it is not professional to venture out on stage, drunk.

Not in front of thousands of people who paid big money, mostly your fans, there to hear you, to see you perform…I know that very well, and Amy Winehouse apologized to her Belgrade audience for doing just that, Saturday night. They booed her, threw stuff at her, wrote harsh comments on Twitter, blogs, tinged with sorrow, pity, hate, anger and necrotic auspices…

That’s our Amy, she is a bad girl. She drinks, she does drugs, she rehabs, but she sings…she sings the blues, she sings her life…and we love her for that. Amy, even drunk, is at least more fun to see than the Serbian turbo folk pop star Ceca, who sings ballads to war crime while sober. But that is not the issue, or not the only issue.

Other musicians in history of rock and blues have performed and flunked: I’ve seen a couple myself. Many died young. Some of them survived, and a few even improved their music when not intoxicated. Some musicians, like Rashid Taha, topple off the stage on purpose as part of the act. In Rashid’s concert in LA some years ago I was offered drugs by the local manager if I would dance in the front row.

In Belgrade, the US ambassador left the concert after Amy staggered on the stage and pulled her shoes off, “with no good reason”. ( I can always see a good reason to take high heels off ). Then she blurrily recited “Only Friends” instead of singing it, and a fancy leader of a small hip opposition party departed his VIP lounge.

My underage cousin, whose mom is a professional singer, came home from Amy’s show very disappointed. She’d barely been allowed to go in the first pace.

Many moms commented about how sad it would be to see your daughter in that shape. What a poor role model for youth Amy Winehouse is!

My gay activist friend, who adores divas and always defends them, found himself very isolated. Apparently it’s one thing to be a bad girl, while to be a bad performer is entirely another. Other bloggers have carefully compiled YouTube serials of drunken pop stars and collapsing opera singers. Nothing gets forgiven or forgotten, especially when it really hurts.

Amy spoke on stage of Athens and New York, obviously so wasted that she’d forgotten where she was: lucky her. I followed the development of her downfall on the stage, remembering the fall of many of Belgrade’s alternative underground druggies. Performers, actors and musicians, the casualties of the Belgrade scene: Ekaterina Velika, Sonja Savic, my cousin the muse and model Biljana Bezideja…

Some of them today have streets named after them. Some were commemorated in books, while others have just friends to fondly mourn them… Amy is not my friend or my relative, not my compatriat either, but she is my favorite woman singer today. So, she is all of that too.

After the world press condemned her unprofessional and unruly public scandal, Amy cancelled her month of European touring. She fell down first thing, starting in Belgrade. Amy will be back in July. Maybe. She has been back before. Even Belgrade is coming back; it’s becoming a venue where world-class musicians will give it a try.

With her powerful blues, so tormented and out-of-control, the music scene is a more honest place. Music should be less like an abandoned shopping mall, and more like Belgrade.


About jasminatesanovic

Jasmina Tešanović (Serbian: Јасмина Тешановић) (born March 7, 1954) is a feminist, political activist (Women in Black, Code Pink), translator, publisher and filmmaker. She was one of the organizers of the first Feminist conference in Eastern Europe "Drug-ca Zena" in 1978, in Belgrade. With Slavica Stojanovic, she ran the first feminist publishing house in the Balkans "Feminist 94" for 10 years. She is the author of Diary of a Political Idiot, a war diary written during the 1999 Kosovo War and widely distributed on the Internet. Ever since then she has been publishing all her work, diaries, stories and films on blogs and other Internet media.
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