Love Letter To A Record: Hattie Oates On Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back To Black’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Hattie Oates – Amy Winehouse, ‘Back To Black’ (2006)

Love. It’s such a strong word. I’d never been in love. Until I met you. You always told me that tears dry on their own, but the truth is they only ever dried with you by my side. I know I’m three years older, I’m an ’03 baby and you’re an ’06, but age doesn’t matter. Cupid has worked his magic and I can’t help myself. I’m addicted. From the first time I heard you whispering at me from my parents’ old record player, I knew I would never wake up alone again. Even though we were just friends, there was something special about you. And I wasn’t wrong.

So, you’re now wondering…


why, were you so special?

Well, if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be who I am today. A musician. And for that, I owe you more than just this letter!

‘Valerie’ was where it all started. Not long after I first picked up a guitar, I came across this song, or should I say, absolute masterpiece of funky jazziness! The chords were difficult for me in the beginning, with my little ten-year-old fingers stretching across the fat, unproportioned neck of a nylon-stringed. But I persisted. And thank god I did, because that song is the absolute highlight of every gig I have ever done since that day.

You always told me love is a losing game, but not when it came to me & Mr Jones! Now that, was love! Every time I listen to it, it’s like I’m driving down a highway in a retro car, with the roof off, wind in my hair, sunglasses tucked underneath a scarf that’s tied loosely around the bottom of my chin with… anyway, you get the point… whatever they used to wear in the ’60s. Each song transported me into a new world. If you weren’t taking the words straight out of my mouth, you were teaching me a life lesson about some unholy war or a relationship you’d had that sent you back to black. And that kind of thing lives on, way past any of us.

So, basically the point of this letter is you.

You are the one who dries my tears when I’m alone,

You are the one who keeps me company on a long drive home,

You are smart,

You are kind,

You are the love of my life…

Forever and always,


Listen to Hattie Oates’ latest single, ‘High’.

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