And when Amy Winehouse died this weekend (see Sasha Frere-Jones’s Postscript), Brand, who is a former heroin addict, wrote a tribute to the singer on his Web site (it was later reprinted in the ) that ends up being one of the most interesting bits of commentary in this whole mess.
It’s hard to say much about a young woman hell-bent on destroying herself, even when that young woman is supremely talented, but Brand manages to sketch out an affecting portrait: When I first met her around Camden she was just some twit in a pink satin jacket shuffling round bars with mutual friends, most of whom were in cool indie bands or peripheral Camden figures Withnail-ing their way through life on impotent charisma.
When Stern then said, "He's a better womanizer, then," Brand was forced to defend his well-documented lascivious ways."Hold on, I resent that! "Returning to the topic of Katy and John, Russell opted for diplomacy, while still making his feelings known."You have to let go of the instinct to protect someone once you divorce them," he said. Not so much playing the field, just going through life, meditating, doing yoga, concentrating on this TV show and trying to find a nice wife."As for rumors he's been linked to Demi Moore, Brand clarified that those were patently untrue."I really like her, she's a beautiful person.
Taking that as his cue (not that he needed one) to throw tact to the wind, Stern then launched into Russell's ill-fated marriage, telling him, "I knew you'd never stay married."So Katy has John—who does Russell have? I've not made love to her yet, Howard, but it's a matter of time.
But the music she left was marked by an emotional intensity that made her a rarity among pop singers.
So how did Winehouse, with her “air of elsewhere,” manage to reach audiences at all?
cover star has dated just about every type of eligible bachelor. Even without the reference to “Withnail & I,” the great mid-eighties British comedy about unemployed actors, it’s a lovely sentence: precise and unsentimental.Brand recalls his bemusement at hearing that Winehouse was a “jazz singer”; it struck him as “bizarrely anomalous in that crowd,” and “placed Amy beyond an invisible boundary of relevance.” The recollection is set into a broader portrait of addiction that includes an unsparing self-portrait: I was myself at that time barely out of rehab and was thirstily seeking less complicated women so I barely reflected on the now glaringly obvious fact that Winehouse and I shared an affliction, the disease of addiction.Whether a homeless smack head troubling you for 50p for a cup of tea or a coked-up, pinstriped exec foaming off about his speedboat, there is a toxic aura that prevents connection. That twerp, all eyeliner and lager dithering up Chalk Farm Road under a back-combed barnet, the lips that I’d only seen clenching a fishwife fag and dribbling curses now a portal for this holy sound.They have about them the air of elsewhere, that they’re looking through you to somewhere else they’d rather be. The priority of any addict is to anaesthetise the pain of living to ease the passage of the day with some purchased relief. Celebrity addicts, Brand says, are a special case; they activate, through media obsession, all available circuits of admiration, envy, and schadenfreude.