File under the bulging folder called "Might Have Been's" - Amy Winehouse, the singer most people placed bets would not make it to 30, exceeded everyone's expectations and left us at the ominous age of 27 earlier today, culminating a struggle against addictions and the implosion of a career because of them.
A tribute to the leering eye of tabloid journalism and the paparazzi who live for trainwrecks, Amy Winehouse was the poster girl for all the stereotyped wretched excess popular culture has ever had to offer. The poster girl for why some people, who give their lives over to the cause of drugs and alcohol, make it out the other end and stay sober and some just don't.
She made her claim to fame here in the states with the hit single "Rehab", an anthem to those who think addiction is a big joke, that alcoholism is something you can turn off like a light. And maybe it seemed like taking her defiant message and going back on it, by actually needing something like rehab in order to stay alive, was a cop-out, a weakness on her part.
Like anything that seeks to offer help, it's only as good as you are willing to make it good. Rehab is no different, and in the current climate, where Rehabs are springing up everywhere, many (but not all, by any stretch of the imagination) are just over-priced baby sitting services who cater to the whims of those paying lip service or wanting to get the heat off and have the check book handy.
And there's that celebrity thing. A cottage industry of Reality TV has come about as a result of it. The endless parade of fucked-up famous people, laying bare struggles and addictions - and we get to watch, just like we got to watch Amy Winehouse. And people sneered. People shrugged their shoulders and offered pat answers - "I can't understand how someone with all that talent and fame just throws it away. Couldn't she just stop?" Anybody who has spent a goodly amount of time around a Crack-pipe, an 8-ball or a fifth of Jack Daniels will answer "you try."
So Amy found herself at the last house on the block and decided not to stay. That was her choice. And in doing so availed herself of the three options she had left - jails, institutions or death. And in opting for death she's left a sea of people, who thought she was talented and had something to say, shaking their heads in frustration that we've lost yet another one. Another one of those "might've been's".
We won't know. But I suspect in the coming weeks and months, those who ridiculed her for her attempts at getting clean and sober will now sanctify her as a tragic figure, a flawed legend. A cautionary tale.
So before all that happens, here by way of a tribute to someone who burst on the scene and had something to say, is a live concert performance by Amy Winehouse, as recorded at the Hove Festival in Norway on June 26th, 2007. You can't help but dwell on the irony when she launches into Rehab towards the end of her set.
But then, you can't help but feel sad when the set's over, knowing all that potential was only going to be for a little while.
And then you think about somebody you know who is just like that. Maybe someone sitting next to you. Maybe you.
And you wonder.