July 25th, 2011
12:20 PM ET
In March 2007, as Amy Winehouse's acclaimed album "Back to Black" found its way to U.S. shores, CNN's Doug Hyde spoke with the late singer at length about her music, the reports surrounding her alcohol use and what she had planned for her next album.
As fans, her family and the music industry continues to mourn the talented songstress, who died in London Saturday at the age of 27, we've unearthed the transcript from the candid conversation.
Read on after the jump:
DH: Well, like I was telling you, I really enjoyed this album, and I love '60s music, so I really loved it, but I'm wondering did anybody try to talk you out of doing that sound, [saying] "Oh, that's too old fashioned, or people won't buy it?" What was the initial response?
AW: I don't know. I mean, I made an album before this one. This is my second album. So I guess from being around the block people know I don't really do what I'm told to do. Or that I don't really care enough about what people think of me to conform to anything.
DH: And what is it about that music that touches you and makes you want to do it in that style?
AW: I just really like that '60s girl group thing. Where they're very all or nothing. They're very dramatic and...do you want me tell them to shut up? [Referring to the racket in the background as we're trying to do the interview...someone in the background quiets them down.]
DH: You were saying what it is you loved about the music...
AW: I love the '60s thing just because it's so naive and innocent. And dramatic. It's that mentality of, "I love that boy with dirty hair who rides a motorbike and even if he doesn't love me back, I'll still lie in the road for him 'cause I love him. Ya know what I mean? It's very all or nothing. I like that. I like that mentality.
DH: And did you discover this [music] recently or was this something your parents would play in the house, and you listened to it growing up?
AW: No, I guess around the time just before I was making the record, I would go play pool in bars and stuff and I guess it's all jukebox music really. Yeah.
DH: And what's it like for you coming here to the States? In a sense, you've got a clean slate, you're introducing yourself to a whole bunch of people and there's no history. It's a fresh start. How are you finding it?
AW: It's fun. It's really nice. I love playing gigs. I love playing gigs everywhere. So it's nice to be here.
DH: I suppose back in Britain, you're written about in the tabloids and all this sort of thing but over here in the States, it's mainly, it's all about your music and there's a little paragraph at the end that says, "Oh, by the way, all this stuff has been written about her." What do you make of all this? This coverage about your drinking and that sort of thing?
AW: It's fine. It doesn't bother me.
DH: Do you feel like you're in a calmer phase now? That some of the drama has gone out of your life?
AW: (makes a face) Yes, I guess so. Whatever.
DH: It seems like you can't create good music without some drama in your life, right?
AW: It would seem not. (smiles)
DH: What is the next album going to sound like? Will it be similar to this one?
AW: Yeah, I've still got a bunch of stuff left over from this album. So I guess it'll be that kind of stuff. It'll be more of the same, I guess. More kind of '60s torch songs.
DH: Is that going to come out later this year?
AW: I haven't even started it yet. I don't know when I'll get time to. But hopefully, it won't be too long.
DH: Now I definitely want to ask you about the songs. I was wondering if we could get you to talk a little about each one. There's a song, "Love is a Losing Game," which I like. And I love the lyric, "Over futile odds and laughed at by the Gods and now the final frame, love is a losing game." And I think that's just a very beautiful thought.
AW: Thank you.
DH: What inspired that? And it certainly sounds like a song one of the great torch singers of the past would sing.
AW: Thanks. I was in a relationship. I'd finished a relationship and I just thought even though I'd fallen in love I hadn't really come out of it... (pauses) I don't know, I guess it's a weakness, isn't it? It's a weakness.
DH: And of course, "Rehab" is the first single. And what's the story, and who was trying to get you into rehab and why wouldn't you go, go, go?
AW: I had about a year and a half off and I was drinking a lot. Not anything terrible, I was just trying to forget about the fact that I had finished this relationship and my management at the time thought I was... well, I wasn't working so I didn't see them a lot, they just kind of stepped in and thought they were being the good guys by stepping in and just strong-arming me into a rehabilitation center, but I just didn't really need it. I knew I was in love and you know...
DH: And you're obviously skeptical about rehab. Here in the States we get all these headlines about Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan and all these people going into rehab. What do you make of all that? Do you think rehab works?
AW: I've never been. I wouldn't know. I guess to each their own.
DH: Are you skeptical about it in general or just feel it isn't for you?
AW: No, I just...I've never been. I wouldn't know. It must work for some people.
DH: Another song: "Tears Dry on Their Own." [Quoting the lyric] "Even if I stop wanting you, and perspective pushes through, I'll be some next man's other woman soon." That's a woman who knows who she is and there's no changing her.
AW: Yeah. "Tears Dry [on Their Own]" is about being in a relationship that you know can't work out whatever happens. So even though you're upset, you know you'll get over it very quickly.
DH: "Back to Black" - was that inspired by The Supremes? That sort of sound.
AW: Not at all. No not really. "Back to Black" is about being in a relationship, that when it's finished you go back to what you know. Except I wasn't working, so I couldn't throw myself back into work. And the guy I was seeing went back to his ex-girlfriend... I didn't really have anything to go back to. So I guess I went back to a very black few months, doing silly things. As you do, when you're 22 and in love.
DH: I was wondering if Slick Rick has contacted you about being referenced in "Mr. Jones."
AW: No. Not at all.
DH: A lot of these songs sound true to life.
AW: They are.
DH: In "You Know I'm no Good," the scene where you're describing, you're in the bathroom and he sees the rug burns, that's all true?
AW: The whole album is autobiographical. I don't write songs because I want my voice to be heard or I want to be famous or any of that stuff. I write songs about things I have problems with and I have to get past them and I have to make something good out of something bad. Ya know what I mean?
DH: So it's kind of a consolation. The music consoles you and helps you get through the...
AW: Yeah, I guess so.
DH: Well, it's funny. This is on the Internet. (hands over paper) Your dressing room requests [food, wine, etc for her dressing room]. I think you're a woman of impeccable taste.
AW: This is for, I mean, there's 12 of us in the band.
DH: I know, I just think it shows you've got good taste. The Rioja [Spanish red wine], some of the other items on there. Isn't it funny that this kind of thing is floating out there around the Internet?
AW: Yeah. The only thing I'm really that fussed about is the Jack Daniels. Is the Jack Daniels even there?
DH: I think it is. There's like 40 Marlboro Lights and some Courvoiser.
DH: And the band only likes hot pizza.
AW: (laughs) I don't see the Jack Daniels. I guess the Jack Daniels is the only thing that's important. (smiles) It's not even there.
DH: Thank you so much.
AW: Thank you.
DH: I'm looking forward to seeing your show tonight.
AW: Thanks, Doug. I really hope you enjoy it.
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