Whitney Houston is gone, at the age of 48. Found dead in a hotel bathroom prepping for Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammys bash, we’ll undoubtedly be waiting weeks for a cause of death. Oh sure, we can all make guesses as to what claimed Whitney’s life, but the cause matters not: after years of substance abuse, emotional and physical abuse, a body can often only take so much.
I’m saddened by Whitney’s passing, unlike that of Amy Winehouse. The reasons are two-fold: a) Whitney’s music has been part of my life since childhood, and I loved her, unlike Amy; and b) while both battled publicly with drugs and alcohol, Whitney had, of late, chosen health and life. Did she relapse during her recent tour? Maybe. But while Amy almost wore her addiction like a badge of honour, Whitney accepted responsibility and sought to change.
Either way, I look at so many celebrities – River Phoenix, Whitney, Amy, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Demi Lovato – and am saddened by how fame destroys lives while we, the public, munch our popcorn and enjoy the show – and lament the predictable ending. Drugs destroy lives every single day, but when you are famous and have all the money in the world to burn through a glass pipe or a syringe, it’s a whole new scale of self-annihilation. Whitney was so blessed with her voice – and then we thrust her onto an impossible pedestal, and she fell.
So tonight, let’s remember the music she gave us, and save the deep intellectual discourse on society and addiction for tomorrow. As important as that dialogue is, a child has lost her mother, and a woman has lost her life; I choose to focus on her positives for now, and pontificate later on the negatives. I choose to focus on the voice that highlighted my childhood. I’ll think fondly of my endless, obsessive spins of the soundtrack for The Bodyguard. I’ll think of how every single time Lucas goes through Warren’s stolen CDs in Empire Records, I mouth along: “Rap, metal, rap, metal, Whitney Houston.”/”It’s for my girlfriend.”/”Sure, it is…” A legendary voice, and a beautiful smile: rest in peace, Whitney.
I’m Your Baby Tonight (1990)
Exhale (Shoop Shoop) (1995)
Queen of the Night (1992)
Greatest Love Of All (1985)
How Will I Know (1985)
It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay (1998)
I’m Every Woman (1992)
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) (1987)
When You Believe (With Mariah Carey) (1998)
I Have Nothing (1992)
I Will Always Love You (1992)
And… one last song, in memory: