Today marks what would have been Amy Winehouse’s 39th birthday (September 14). The singer died in 2011 of drug complications, leaving a legion of fans to mourn the tragic loss. Despite her relatively short career, Winehouse delivered a number of world-class hits that inspired an entire generation of pop artists.
The hits have certainly endured, with “Back to Black” and “Valerie” becoming certified classics. But there are undoubtedly a number of hidden gems that could deserve a brighter spotlight. Below, we’re going through five deep cuts that you can listen to today to celebrate Winehouse’s legacy.
1. “Teach Me Tonight (Live at the Hootenanny, London, 2004)” (from Frank)
Winehouse took on this classic jazz standard on English TV presenter Jools Holland’s Hootenanny in 2004. Though “Teach Me Tonight” will arguably always be a Dinah Washington song, Winehouse’s version makes a strong play for the throne.
Armed with a classic charm and her distinct vocals, Winehouse comes in hot with the opening lines, Did you say I’ve got a lot to learn? / Well, don’t think, I’m tryin’ not to learn / Since this is the perfect spot to learn / Oh, teach me tonight.
2. “Between The Cheats” (from Lioness: Hidden Treasures)
A large part of Winehouse’s appeal is the juxtaposition between her honeyed musicality and her crass lyricism. Skirting around any coded language or deep-seated metaphors, Winehouse told it like it was. A knack that is well on display in “Between The Cheats.” The fine handsome hustler / And he still make / This housewife blush / So I’m lockin’ / My hand in his / I’m sitting on the royal flush, she sings.
3. “What Is It About Men” (from Frank)
A large portion of Winehouse’s music was about the trials and tribulations of her relationships. This underrated gem from her debut, Frank, does just that. “What Is It About Men” takes on the themes of heartbreak, sex, self-loathing, and loneliness that would go on to become a hallmark of her career.
4. “Love Is A Losing Game (Original Demo)” (from Back to Black – Deluxe Edition)
It’s hard to chalk up any song on Back to Black as a deep cut. Undoubtedly her most famous effort, all of the song’s original 11 tracks have more than received their dues. But the deluxe edition of the record offers a few surprises that remain untapped en masse.
One such track is the original demo of “Love Is A Losing Game.” In the early edition, Winehouse trades in her signature big band sound for a raw, acoustic rendition. The intimate recording feels like you’re right there in the room with Winehouse as she figures out this iconic track, which is all the more poignant after her death.
5. “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” (from Lioness: Hidden Treasures)
Though “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” has been performed a number of times across the years – notably by The Shirelles – Winehouse brings a 21st-century swagger to the number. Winehouse has inspired an entire generation of artists to adopt a golden age swing to their music. It’s hard to imagine songs like “Marvin Gaye” by Megan Trainer and Charlie Puth would’ve topped the charts in 2016 if Winehouse hadn’t reintroduced the world to that style years earlier.
“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” is perfectly evocative of Winehouse’s ability to take something classic and give it a renewed spirit.
(Photo by Roger Kisby/Getty Images)