Valerie. When I “met” Amy Winehouse. Ep II

It’s August 2011

Back from my vacation, I am doing stretching at home, after the office. It’s about 6.30 pm. All of a sudden in my mind the music of Amy's Back to black gushes out of nowhere, perhaps the only one I knew a little better in her repertoire. I can't resist, I sit at the piano and “find” some chords.

«He left no time to regret…» within a little while I mastered the song quite well. "But...wait a moment ... - I say to myself, as I abruptly stop playing – what am I planning to do ... a tribute to Amy Winehouse?" As a male interpreter, in fact, it is not very usual to perform “female-singer” repertoires. But, most of all… did I really want to compare with a voice like that? False issue. Something had already started singing through me, whether I agreed or not. My voice started to sound different, my throat moved differently, almost automatically. Such as if a huge update file was being downloaded from who knows what remote server. It wasn't a matter of imitating someone, it was always me with my voice, but there was a strong one extra nuance, there was someone singing in me, and begging me not to stop, not to resist, to let myself go without fear. I was just a channel. 

It got dark, I almost forgot to have dinner, there was nothing I could do about it, I had to continue. Within a short time I learned several others passages, and from that moment on, I studied everything I found about this woman, often crying and wondering in amazement how it was possible to yearn for someone you met - so to speak - only after his death. How can you feel frankly dejected and sad for a person you've never met even artistically?

As I said before infact: I was not a fan, I did not know that woman (again Saint Peter…)

One day in the office, my colleague Ewan ("casually" of English origin) suggests me to also learn “Valerie”, another very famous song by Amy, even if it was actually a cover of the original one, written and recorded by a band called The Zutons. It was nice and easy, so I went for it.

Now imagine I'm in front of YouTube watching Amy’s video and studying chords, lyrics, etc. Then, in an instant that I will always remember, Amy looks at the camera and sings: «Why don't you come on over, Valerie?»

Time stops, my rational mind freezes.

She seems to come out of the screen, it all become a real living thing.

I’ll try to explain in words what in that precious millisecond struck me altogether, like a single package of information, with the power, speed and brightness of the lightning.

«Why don't you come on over» carries a meaning like: "why don't you come home" or "why don't you come to me ”. That is the main sense of that verse.

And as for “Valerie”… read my name at the end of this article and… welcome to multidimensionality.

Since then a mystical symbiosis began. I started to talk to her mentally and out loud when I am alone, I feel it, it is a real, pulsating, real presence.

This electricity that I feel inside also shakes me from a period of artistic inertia in which I had then surrendered to the work routine, putting my ideas aside indefinitely.

New collaborations, ideas, economic resources emerge, I get back on my feet. I can hardly recognize myself, and all without having the slightest idea of what was happening.

After two years from then, my first album would have been a reality.

In this record there is a song, entitled "Amy", which a few months after its release would finally have given enormous meaning to all this.

End of Ep II

Valerio Mattei

November 2020


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