TEARS DRY ON THEIR OWN by AMY WINEHOUSE
Like the other songs on the Back to Black album, this was written during a difficult time in Winehouse's life. Her then boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil had abandoned her to return to his previous girlfriend, leaving Amy devastated. In an interview with the Sun newspaper October 27, 2006 Amy explained: "'Tears Dry On Their Own' is a track about the breakup with Blake, my ex. Most of these songs are about him. I shouldn't have been in a relationship with him because he was already involved with someone else a bit too close to home. The song is about when we split up and saying to myself: 'Yes, you're sad but you'll get over it.' And I did."
Blake subsequently returned to Amy and they got married in May 2007.
This is based around the background music arrangement for the Ashford and Simpson Motown song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," which was an American #1 for Diana Ross in 1970.
Amy told the crowd at Shepherd's Bush in 2007: "This song's about when you're in a relationship and you know it's going to end, and you know you're going to be upset, but you know that you have to do it."
WAKE UP ALONE by AMY WINEHOUSE
Amy wrote this with British producer and composer Paul O'Duffy, who is best known for producing Swing Out Sister's Grammy-nominated multi-platinum debut album, It's Better to Travel and his film score work with John Barry. Amy spent a month in O'Duffy's North London studio working on tracks for what became the Back to Black album. This was the first song recorded during the sessions and the only tune that made it onto the album.
A one-take demo of the song recorded in March 2006 by O'Duffy later appeared on Winehouse's posthumous album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures. Long term Winehouse cohort Saleem Remi, who produced a number of tracks on her first two albums told NME: "Most of Amy's songs started with a guitar and a vocal and a basic beat, if there was any beat at all. So it was really about her being able to express herself lyrically and then find the chords she wanted to use and then get it arranged after."
ME AND MR. JONES by AMY WINEHOUSE
Winehouse loves Soul music of the '60s and '70s, and it's likely that this song was inspired by the Billy Paul classic "Me And Mrs. Jones," which is about a couple who are cheating on their partners. In this song, Mr. Jones would be the man she is having an affair with, and she's clearly not pleased with him.
This is possibly the first song to name-check both Slick Rick and Sammy Davis, Jr. Slick Rick is a rapper who was popular in the '80s, and Sammy Davis Jr. was a legendary entertainer and part of Frank Sinatra's "Rat Pack." He was, as Winehouse sings, a black Jew.
The titular Mr. Jones is New York rapper Nas (real name Nasir Jones), who became good friends with Winehouse after being name checked. He told XXL in 2011: "I don't really remember if [producer] Salaam [Remi], who was really close to her, who introduced us, if he told me about it or not. But I heard a lot about it before I even heard the song."
REHAB by AMY WINEHOUSE
This song is autobiographical. Many successful musicians are haunted by their own personal demons of drink and drugs, and Winehouse is no exception. In February 2007 her father gave a candid interview to the Sun newspaper in which he denied that his daughter was an alcoholic, although he admitted that like many single women of her age she sometimes overdid the drink. On one occasion, after splitting up with her boyfriend, she fell over and hit her head.
Her previous management company wanted her to go into rehab but she said she didn't need to. Her father agreed, adding that she wasn't an alcoholic but had been drinking too much because she was lovesick, and "You can't go into rehab for that." Alcoholics drink everyday, he said, and his daughter didn't. Hence the line: "They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no."
Amy Winehouse was asked by The Daily Mail on August 3, 2007 how she writes songs. Said Winehouse: "With 'Rehab' I was walking down the street with Mark Ronson, who produced my last album. I just sang the hook out loud. It was quite silly really." She was then asked, "Did you sing the 'no no no' bit as well?'" "Yeah, I sang the whole line exactly as it turned out on the record! Mark laughed and asked me who wrote it because he liked it. I told him that I'd just made it up but that it was true and he encouraged me to turn it into a song, which took me 5 minutes. It wasn't hard. It was about what my old management company (run by former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller) wanted me to do."
This won the 2007 Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song.
At the 2008 Grammy awards, this won for Song Of The Year, Female Pop Vocal Performance and Record Of The Year. Winehouse also won for Best New Artist, and performed a medley of songs that were televised from London. Ronson won for producer of the year.
Backstage at the Grammy ceremony Mark Ronson recalled to Billboard magazine what it was like playing "Rehab" for Winehouse's A&R for the first time. "About the first 15 seconds in, he said 'Rewind, rewind!' I didn't think there would be dollar signs lighting up."
Winehouse did a few stints in rehab to treat her drug and alcohol addiction, but it was ultimately unsuccessful. She was found dead in her London home on July 23, 2011.
The lines, "I'd rather be at home with Ray" and "There's nothing you can teach me that I can't learn from Mr. Hathaway" are references to two of Winehouse's soul music inspirations: Ray Charles and Donny Hathaway. Hathaway is best known for his duets with Roberta Flack: "Where Is The Love?" and "The Closer I Get To You."
LOVE IS A LOSING GAME by AMY WINEHOUSE
Like the other songs on the Back to Black album, this was written during a difficult time in Winehouse's life. Her then boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil had abandoned her to return to his previous girlfriend, leaving Amy devastated. After the songs were written he returned and they got married in 2007. However, at the time Winehouse was emotionally fragile but she chose to use her pain as raw material for her songs, which she found to be a healing experience. She explained to Mojo Magazine January 2008: "I'm not frightened of appearing vulnerable. I write songs about stuff that I can't really get past emotionally-and then I feel better."
This was co-written by Mark Ronson, the producer of Back to Black. Ronson also co-wrote the title track and "You Know I'm No Good" on the album. Winehouse collaborated a few months later with Ronson on a cover of the Zutons song "Valerie" for his Version album. When it was released as a single it reached #2 on the UK chart, higher than any of the singles released from Back to Black.
When the English singer-songwriter George Michael was interviewed on the BBC Radio show Desert Island Discs, he chose this as the piece of music he would most like to have if he was stranded on a desert island.
This won the 2008 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically And Lyrically. However the troubled singer failed to arrive in time to collect her gong, leaving her embarrassed father Mitch to accept it on her behalf.
This was the first song mixed for Back to Black. Ronson recalled to Mojo magazine June 2010 that he was nervous regarding how Winehouse would react. Said Ronson: "She came to mixing on the first day at Metropolis studios in London. The first song we were mixing was Live is a Losing Game. She had her head down on the mixing board, so I couldn't gauge her reaction. I'm freaking out, thinking, If she doesn't like it, we're pretty f---ed. At the end of it she looks up and walks over, extends her arms and gives me a huge hug. 'I love it. Just take the harp off after the second verse. It sounds like some Mariah Carey bulls--t.' It's emblematic of this thing about Amy. She can cut you down to size in two seconds flat."