To watch a classic recording come into being is an amazing thing, and in newly-uncovered studio footage the world can now bear witness to Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson hard at work creating her timeless, bittersweet single “Back to Black.”
The clip comes from the just-released documentary feature Amy, which chronicles Amy Winehouse’s early life, rise to superstardom and tragic fall into addiction, metal illness and death. In it, we travel back to March 2006 and see Ronson (decked out in a Red Hot Chili Peppers shirt) manning the boards while Amy reads verse lyrics off of a notebook in the recording booth. Seven months later, when “Back to Black” was released, it became a hit and is today considered Winehouse’s signature song, but there in the harsh lighting of a studio the fledgling tune is shaky–you can watch in real time as its born out of the singer’s stinging heartache. “When you write a song you have to remember how you felt, you have to remember what the weather was like, you have to remember what his neck smelled like,” Winehouse says from off-camera. “You have to remember all of it.”
“She would tell me stories about Blake, and this tempestuous extreme relationship,” Ronson says of Amy Winehouse’s relationship with her then-ex husband Blake Fielder-Civil, with whom Winehouse had a deep, drug-fueled, and on-again-off-again bond. “That first day she wrote ‘Back to Black,’ all the lyrics and the melody in two or three hours.” And that’s what’s most important and captivating about the clip, and indeed Winehouse’s whole career: not the relationship issues and the substance abuse, but the towering musical talent that burned so brightly just before it vanished. Watch the full clip below.