Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston is DEAD... I'm sad, but not surprised

Just yesterday, I was gazing wistfully at my Facebook.  On the evening of February 10th, I had posted a news article about Whitney Houston.  I don't remember reading the article carefully.  Indeed, I was too focused on the photos that accompanied the article, which showed Ms. Houston apparently very intoxicated.  My comment?  "Oh dear".

Hours later, the news came out that she had suddenly died in Beverly Hills.  I remembered the photos I had posted just one day previously and realized that I wasn't surprised.  Or, at least I wasn't surprised the way I was when Michael Jackson died.  Over the past few years, it seems that many promising superstars seemingly gifted with endless talent and stunning looks do something to destroy their lives.  At this point, it's a mystery why Whitney died...  or is it?  She had a well known drug problem.  Her behavior had been very erratic.  Just days ago, she was photographed in public, obviously very intoxicated.  Is it any wonder she died?

I think Whitney Houston was tremendously talented and blessed with great beauty.  She had what so many people would kill or die for... and yet that wasn't enough.  Her life still took a tragic turn.  She leaves behind a teenaged daughter who will no doubt suffer as she comes of age.

I suppose if I am surprised about anything, it's the fickle reaction of the public.  Whitney's career had tanked and she had become the butt of mean-spirited jokes.

Though she supposedly had a movie in the works and Simon Cowell was thinking about working with her (or at least he claimed that when he spoke to Piers Morgan last night), her most recent concerts had gotten terrible reviews.  She could no longer hit the spine tingling notes she once did.  She was more famous for her public tantrum on Delta Airlines than her musical prowess.  And yet, once news of her death came out, everybody and their brother was praising her for her "angelic voice", "professionalism", and she was even being called "one of the greatest singers of our time", this despite recent performances like the one below...

It was a far cry from her auspicious debut back in 1985, when Whitney Houston released her self-titled album which spawned a number of big hits.  I actually own a cassette copy of Whitney Houston and have listened to it many times.  As a 13 year old, I used to put it in my Walkman to listen to as I biked to the barn where I kept my horse.  I still remember her pretty duets with Jermaine Jackson and her turn with him on As The World Turns.  

I remember learning to drive to the songs from her second album, Whitney, though I never actually purchased the album.  She was just on the radio a lot back then.  I remember her stirring rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" and "One Moment In Time" for the 1988 Olympics.  Hell, even my stint working at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia has a Whitney memory stamped on it.  I worked in the German section of the park and every day, watched performances by The Boogie Band, a group of young guys who danced and played instruments.  They played a medley that included Houston's "I'm Your Baby Tonight".  

And then she remade Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" for The Bodyguard, a film that also gave her top billing as an actress.  While the movie got mixed reviews, the soundtrack was a huge hit in the early 1990s.  It took years for it to die.  Dolly Parton's old hit was revived and she confessed that Whitney's version of her song had made her scads of money.

She married Bobby Brown, who had a checkered past.  Suddenly, Whitney's star began to fade, even as they created a daughter together.  I worry for Bobbi Kristina.  Both of her parents have had serious drug problems.  I fear that even if she inherited their talents as performers, she might have also inherited their propensity toward addiction.  

All in all, Whitney Houston's story is a sad one.  I hope the talented folks who are coming up in the music industry take note and learn.  While I don't necessarily agree that there aren't other singers as naturally talented or charismatic as Whitney was, I do think her death is a loss.  She inspired a lot of people and seemed larger than life, but in the end, she was just a mortal human being.

This is actually one of my favorite efforts by Whitney.  I hope she rests in peace.

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