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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"All at once...or was it?"

Young vibrant Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston passed away on Saturday. She was just 48. That is tragic. It's a great loss. But it was hardly surprising. I will get to that later. 
I remember being in University, back in 1987. I was driving home from school and my friend Eric was in the car. Every second song on the radio was a song by her. We both noticed that. She was sweet, innocent and completely on top of her game. We both noticed that as well. 25 years later, she died a jagged former shell of what she was and became for a while. Everybody had noticed that by the time she passed away. This song will always remind me of her now. 
 That will always be my connection to her. My memory of that time and where I was then. And how she was then. And what she sadly became.
 I can't think of anyone in my generation who had more natural talent than Whitney Houston.
But I can think of many examples of stars just like her who had great talent and let the hype that surrounds that destroy them over time.
Andy Gibb, Janis Joplin, Marilyn Monroe, River Phoenix and so many more.
 Andy Gibb, another with so much talent, who had everything and lost it all to drugs and hype.
"He helped a lot of people, he just couldn't help himself"----Maurice Gibb.
Whitney Houston was a fantastic singer with a fantastic voice. I don't know of anyone who would deny that.
She also had what all the great ones had. She didn't just have an unreal voice (which she did) but she could move you with a song. And she could pick songs that allowed her to do that.
She took that Dolly Parton song, a great song that had sat for years, and made it her own. Made it great. The great ones can do that. They bring something to it. They take it and enrich it. But there is a price for having that ability. More about that later.
 Another singer who has that ability is Anne Murray. She took a great song that nobody even knew about, Danny's Song, and transformed it into a super hit. She is another who brings something to a song that most others cannot.
But Anne Murray never succumbed to the hype machine, the drugs, the parties, the intense fame that can consume an artist.
 "People see me as the girl next door. And that wasn't the case. It was hard, hard work and a lot of bumps along the way....those early days were tough on the road. Some of my band members in those days were incorrigable. They were bad boys. I had guys in my band who abused drugs and alcohol and it made my life miserable...I was living on the edge all of the time...I was doing it all in those days.  And how I ever managed to get through it those first few years is beyond me...I was on the road, on a tear all the time."
 -Anne Murray
 Peter Mansbridge: How did you resist the drug culture?
"No, (I didn't get caught up in it), but I saw what it was doing,  and it was counterproductive and I had a job to hindsite it's still awful. It was horrible then and it's horrible now"
-Anne Murray
Just after she died, and in the days that followed, many people posted that they were very sad that she died. I was not.
An older, less vibrant Whitney
 I am not sad that Whitney died. It's a shame she threw away her life. It's not her fault she made bad choices. I don't think that people that make the horrendous life choices she made have much control over that. If they did, they would not. Part of what makes them great artists is the ability to lose control and convey that to the audience. But,  they were HER bad choices. I loved her music, but I can still appreciate that now that she is gone, just as I can Joplin, Elvis, MJ or anyone else who died young because of drugs. I can't be sad for her, not because she is a celebrity, but because I didn't know her. She is really nobody to me, just like the hundreds of thousands of people who died all over the world on the same day that Whitney died. They are of equal value, and also, really not a part of my life. When a family member dies, then I am sad because I had real experiences with them. I would never be one who would attend a mass funeral for a celebrity like Lady Diana, or MJ, or Whitney. I don't know them. It isn't my place or my business. I enjoy their work, and I leave it at that.
She can move me because of her talent, but I have no real relationship with her, so there is no real connection on that level.
 I decided to pick just a few examples of what I think Whitney Houston brought to the table as an artist.
Above all, she made you think. She made you feel. She made you listen to the lyrics and experience them. She grabbed your attention and wouldn't let go. Few can do that on a consistent basis.

I could pick so many songs of hers that showed that but I will focus on just a few.
 "No matter what they take from me,  they can't take away my dignity". 
Something to think about now that she is gone and the dramatic fall she had from this performance at the 1987 Grammys to the day she died, a day before the 2012 Grammys, 25 years almost to the day. 
"I don't really need to look,  very much farther,  I don't want to have to go where you don't follow...I can't run from myself there's nowhere to hide..I have nothing if I don't have you".
In the end, she couldn't hide from it anymore and it followed her until it consumed her. She really did end up with nothing in the end.
"No other woman is gonna love you more. Because tonight is the night that I'm feeling I'm saving all my love for you."
 It seems she did give all she had on stage. But the problem was she seemed to be left empty and had to fill herself with drugs when the lights of the stage went down. That is something many talked about with Andy Gibb as well.
Whitney Houston's death was sad. Sad for the people who really knew and loved her. I wasn't one of those people. The death of  Marilyn Monroe, and Janis Joplin, and Hendrix, and Amy Whinehouse was also sad. What is even sadder is that in 5 years, and 10 years, and 15 years and 20 years we will be saying this over and over again. No matter how many times this exact scenario plays out, it never stops. And it never will. 

Not everybody gets to live a long life, Some get a short time and burn bright then flame out.That is their destiny and it cant be avoided. Maybe the price that comes with having the great talent is the lack of common sense to stay away from the things that destroy you. That is the common sense that most of us have. Us being the ones who dont have the great talent.
 "How will I know?, Don't trust your feelings. How will I know? Must be deceiving"
How will I know?. I guess really she couldn't have known how it would turn out for her.  None of us ever do. My thought is that it was her destiny to be great, and to flame out so fast and become the ragged shell of her former bright self that she became. I think in many ways it was her time to go. She clearly had very little will to live anymore.
"drifting on a lonely sea, wishing you'd come back to me, and that's all that matters now"
" I realized you're gone, you're not coming back and it finally hit me, all at once"
My opinion is that she wanted to be that person she was before it all fell apart and realized she could never be that again. She was a vessel out at sea drifting with no chance of being saved by anyone,  least of all herself. And that was all that mattered at that point.
All at once, 25 years culminated in one final day that the dreams were shattered..all at once. 

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Daily profile about a specific artist,their life, their work and their impact