The ambitious scope of Green Day‘s trilogy of 2012 albums ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, and ¡Tre! were meant to show just versatile the band could be. More than just punk rock, the trio of albums incorporated power pop, classic rock, reggae, dance, techno, and even soul music. The variety of styles was so large that they even brought in touring guitarist Jason White as an official member, just to prove that this was the newer and bigger Green Day.
Not all of the new sounds worked, and the trilogy of albums can best be described as an ambitious mess. Sloppy incoherence is sometimes a selling point with punk bands, but when the band in question isn’t always playing punk, it gets a little less endearing. Still, it’s worth applauding the band for bringing in different influences, one of the most surprising of which turned out to be British soul icon, Amy Winehouse.
Winehouse had died the year prior to the release of the albums, and even though she didn’t have a direct connection to the California stadium punks, Green Day still felt the desire to pay tribute to the fallen singer. That’s how ¡Dos! ended up with a melancholy guitar and vocal track, ‘Amy’, as its final song.
“I didn’t know her, I just thought it was a tragic loss,” Billie Joe Armstrong explained to NME. “It’s interesting because of you think about ¡Dos!, it’s a party record and so at the end of it maybe Amy kind of comes across as the consequences of the party.”
Adding: “It happened last summer, around this time, I believe, and I just thought her music and her taste in music was so connected to old soul music and the original Motown and Otis Redding and Sam Cooke and things like that. And I think that was a major loss because that was a generation’s connection to that, and this was someone who should be here now and I just felt really sad. Oh my god, this huge musical figure that just got lost and, you know, that sucks.”
The track incorporates some of the stripped-back jazz-influenced guitar work that Winehouse herself employed during writing and recording sessions. Although more well known for vocals, Winehouse was an accomplished guitarist with a dedication to the difficult harmonic intricacies that were often found in jazz. Armstrong doesn’t employ any major sevenths or diminished runs, but the sparse fingerpicking is about as close as the punk rocker himself has ever come to being a lounge singer.
Green Day were not the only artist’s to pay tribute to Winehouse in 2012. When Peter Blake organised a new set of faces to adorn an updated cover of The Beatles’ seminal Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Winehouse was included as one of the most influential British figures of the modern-day. Despite the controversy that came with her public image, the prevailing feeling in the immediate wake of her death was one of grief and tremendous loss, as can be seen in the art that she inspired when she passed.