Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011

Amy Winehouse

Amy and I once lamented the lack of a badass Jewish-themed holiday record, one that could hang with the classics. You see, we lived for our soul music, and the annals of R&B are paved with amazing tunes like the Jackson 5's "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "Gee Whiz, It's Christmas" by Carla Thomas. But we asked ourselves, Who is really holding it down for the Hebrews?

A day or so later, she came to me with lyrics for songs titled "Alone Under the Mistletoe" and "Heart of Coal." (O.K., how many songs about a menorah can one actually write?) She was that quick and had an innate ability to come up with the insta-classic — a lyric or song title that you've never heard before but is so perfect and timeless that it feels as though it must have been around since the birth of pop music. She wasn't trying to sound classic. She just was. It's how her brain and soul were hardwired.

While we were making Back to Black, it all happened so fast that I didn't fully realize her magic. When I think of the lyrics to "Back to Black," which she wrote in two hours, lines like "I tread a troubled track/ My odds are stacked/ I go back to black" give me chills, and I realize how beyond lucky I was to get to be part of that magic.

Ronson is a music producer