And Jim Morrison said, ‘Welcome to the club’

Amy Winehouse, the 27-year-old British singer-songwriter, died Saturday.

It’s a good age for it, and automatically grants her provisional membership to the 27 Club, of which Jim Morrison, Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones are established members, having all died at that age between 1969 and 1971.

Retroactively, the legendary blues singer and guitarist Robert Johnson got added in, then Kurt Cobain of the ’90s grunge band Nirvana made it, yet another popular and talented artist cut down in his prime by his own self-destructive behavior.

Whether she’ll get the full membership, who knows? In 10 years, people may look back on her as just a fairly talented person who had two albums, one of them really fantastic, before squandering it all in drink, drug and crazy.

But of course that isn’t the way things work.

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There’s something to be said for leaving a bit to the imagination

In his suicide note, rocker Kurt Cobain, quoting Neil Young, said “it’s better to burn out than fade away.” I imagine it’s nice to catch alight at all. I’d rather almost anything but fizzle out, but then whoever lived up to expectations?

I’ve always hated the 19th century Romantic poet John Keats. If he isn’t it, he’s at least in the conversation of greatest English poets. “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” and “The Eve of St. Agnes” are really good stuff, by any measure, and “Ode on a Grecian Urn” gave us one of the handful of all time wonderful poetic lines: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all ye know on earth and all ye need know.” He died at 25 and has haunted high school students and their exams ever since.

Twenty-five! And famous forever. How could you not hate him?

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