Amy Winehouse died in July 2011 aged just 27. Back to Black the title track of her second and final album is a torch song to tragic love, addiction and loss. People who loved her and her music talk about how she helped them cope with their own struggles.
Lesley Jamison is now a successful writer but at 27 she was an alcoholic. She stopped drinking the same year that Amy died. Lesley reflects on how her own life could have followed the same path had she gone further into the darkness or the black of drinking and self destruction. Daisy Buchanan tells her story of addictive love and how Back to Black helped her break free. Umaru Saidu was a vulnerable teenager with mental health issues who lost a dear childhood friend when he was 17. He later trained at the Amy's Yard programme and is grateful for the inspiration she gave him. As a young teenager Amy Charles too identified with the pain expressed in Back to Black and says it helped her deal with depression brought on by a spinal injury.
Donald Brackett is the author of Back to Black: Amy Winehouse's Only Masterpiece and believes performing the song may have become traumatic for her in the end as it forced her to relive the emotional pain. Elizabeth Kesses was visiting her terminally ill father at the same hospital where Amy Winehouse was being treated. She recalls seeing her there and hoping she would recover. Sadly it was not to be. But these stories reveal a legacy that goes beyond the music.
Producer: Maggie Ayre
Let the River Run
The story of how a song from a classic 80’s movie became an inspirational anthem for a 21st Century generation.
Carly Simon’s ‘Let the River Run’ was originally conceived as the title track for the 1988 movie ‘Working Girl. It went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It also went on to win the affection of people around the world.
Initially thought of as a ‘hymn for New York’, ‘Let the River Run’ encapsulates the spirit of striving for a better life. As Carly Simon puts it herself, “I wanted it to be large, I wanted it to be vast – it’s about bringing forth a common desire into the world”. In more recent years it has become an anthem for Woman's Rights Movements and global initiatives aimed at making a better life for all.
Featuring interviews with: Carly Simon, Ginny Suss (music producer and part of the team who organised the Women’s March on Washington), Ultra Marathon Runner Elisabet Barnes, Nina Ritzen and music from The Resistance Revival Chorus.
Produced by Nicola Humphries
The music was written by Charlie Chaplin in 1935 for the film 'Modern Times', but the lyrics were only added thirty years later. Chris Philips tells the story of how his grandfather was inspired to write the words when he left his father at boarding school; Gemma Lowery talks about how her son Bradley loved the song; writer Bryony Rheam describes why she associates the song with her grandmother; Marine Lucas remembers flying to Michael Jackson's memorial on hearing the news of his death and author Bob Williams remembers after his father died, his mother sitting on the floor listening to the Nat King Cole version and crying when he came home from school.
Schubert’s B-Flat Piano Sonata D960
The B-Flat Piano Sonata D960, which Schubert completed two months before his death, in 1828, is a vast and complex work. It’s the last of a triptych of piano sonatas that Schubert wrote, possibly in response to the death of his hero Beethoven the year before. Schubert had been a pallbearer at Beethoven’s funeral.
In this programme, pianists Imogen Cooper, Steven Osborne and James Lisney consider what it’s like to play this work. And Andrea Avery and Pamela Rose describe ways in which this sonata has marked and shaped their lives.
Producer: Rosie Boulton
Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Shine On You Crazy Diamond discussed by voices including David Gilmour of Pink Floyd.
Understood to have been written about Syd Barrett, their former band member, it’s both a tribute, and a call for him to ‘shine on’ despite suffering serious mental health issues.
In this edition of Soul Music, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd recalls the legendary day that Syd Barrett unexpectedly appeared in the studio where they were recording Wish You Were Here, the album bookended by Shine On. Nobody recognised Syd at first; once handsome and slender, he'd gained weight and shaved his head and eyebrows.
Another contributor to the programme, Anna Gascoigne, talks about the pain of losing her son, Jay. He was a gentle boy, a talented musician, who eventually succumbed to the multiple mental health problems he had battled for years. Shine On You Crazy Diamond, for Anna, speaks directly to her of Jay; he loved Pink Floyd and Shine On was played at his memorial service. Anna, herself, was driven to the brink of suicide by her son’s death. It was the support of her family – including her brother, Paul Gascoigne - that helped her to carry on.
Ed Steelefox, a DJ based in Worcester, describes a New Year’s Eve house-party of a few years ago: as the guests gradually fell asleep he chose to slip out the door leaving a non-stop playlist of different, live, versions of Shine On You Crazy Diamond to penetrate their dreams.
And Professor Allan Moore, a regular Soul Music contributor, takes to the grand piano to play and talk about what it is in the track that is so directly reminiscent of Syd Barrett.
NB: Details of organisations offering information and support are available at bbc.co.uk/actionline, or you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information on 08000 566 065. Please scroll further down this page to 'Related Links' for direct links to actionline, and for more information about Jay's story.
Producer: Karen Gregor