Sunday, February 12, 2012

Goodbye Whitney

As you've probably heard by now, Whitney Houston has died at age 48. The cause of death hasn't been announced yet, but the best guess is obvious. And even if it turns out that drugs didn't kill her, they'd already ravaged her, robbing her, and all of us, of that wonderful voice.

It's been 20 years now since her peak, and I think a lot of people have forgotten or don't know what Whitney Houston once was, and how influential she's been. She changed the way people sing. Almost every pop and R&B singer today tries to sing like Whitney. Or if not like her, like someone else who tries to sing like her.

She was that good -- that great, I should say. Other than Barbara Streisand, I can't think of another singer in popular music with the same combination of technical virtuosity and pure vocal beauty. And even Streisand couldn't match the kind of pyrotechnics that Whitney could generate with a song like "I Will Always Love You."

And of course she was beautiful as well. Just absolutely gorgeous.

This brilliant performance is how I'll always remember her. Only about 21 or 22 years old, she misses her cue or something and has to rush into the start of the song, but she's completely unfazed, and she has everything: a commanding stage presence, remarkable beauty, a marvelous voice, great technique, and above all, joy -- the pure joy of a young genius, certain in herself and her gift. Fuck drugs.

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  1. She was a perennial part of my growing up years, and her loss saddens me. I was really hoping she would get past her problems and be with us for a very long time. I had her first album on cassette. Like you, that's the Whitney I'll remember always.

  2. I didn't generally even listen to the kind of music she made, but whenever she was on TV or the radio, I'd always stop to watch and listen.


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