Monday 13 February 2012


This was going to be a Valentines post – we’ll save that until tomorrow. Since the unexpected passing of Whitney Houston, I thought I’d address that, or at least express how it’s made my mind run in all sorts of directions (did you expect anything less?).

First and foremost, I’ve always been amazed what a loss of a legend does to the human collective. Suddenly you find yourself talking about it with strangers at the bank, discussing a person neither of you knew but clearly their affect on the zeitgeist has been substantial and profound. You start thinking of all the songs you grew up on (depending on your age), learned to dance to, used to put on make-up to and get your drink on…[never a good mix as you end up with eyeshadow on your forehead]. Whatever the memory is, there is not a person out there that doesn’t have a memory to at least one Whitney Houston song, even if you are not into her music. I mean, let’s be honest, she had one of the best set of pipes going and could make her peers look like amateurs.

In addition, I don’t know about you, but when the legends start dying (in any arena of accomplishment), I start to feel my age more than I care to admit. I also find myself saying and thinking things that I know the generation before me has thought for years – 'dear god, who are we going to be left with? Justin Bieber?!' How is the King going to define good music?? [Will he believe me when I tell him that artists in my day used to sing live without the use of autotune?!] And you start to quickly realize that the musicians and actors with a reverence for their craft, not to mention mastery of it, are far and few between (no offense Justin, but you just don’t do it for me).

In the particular case of Whitney Houston, there is the inescapable truth that along with her prodigious talent, there was also a very turbulent life that went along with it. She’s human after all; unfortunately in her case, being a public figure meant that her demons were all on show. I suppose my overriding thought on the matter - after the sadness one feels for her family that she died so young - was that it's no secret that drugs were a factor in her life for a long time and it's hard not to think it’s a large shame that she wasted such an incredible talent on such a useless and fruitless past time – not that drugs are a past time, but I suppose they are for some. It makes you think that when it comes to hard drugs – and let’s throw in prescription meds with that, cause they are becoming the new heroin - there is really no upside. I mean, none whatsoever. You might as well take any talent you possess, all your relationships, peace of mind, looks, and money, for that matter, and throw them right out the window.

Of course as all of us can surmise by now, the entertainment industry is rife with the stuff. Whitney Houston was not a unique situation; she unfortunately could not quell the demons in time and eventually they aided in her untimely death (perhaps not in a direct way, as the autopsy is not in, but a multi-decade of use is going to wreak havoc on your mind/body/heart). I’ve often asked my father – being in the industry for over 50 years – why he never got into drugs – or more succinctly, how he avoided them. He would just look at me point blank and say that he just didn’t see the point or have the time for it. Singing meant more, and he wanted to sing, plain and simple. I'm sure there are a lot of people right now wishing that people with such a talent as Whitney Houston felt the same way.

So sadly, now we must say goodbye to yet another legend. And I will have to explain to the King all of those musicians and singers that came before and set the path for the rest to follow. Those like Whitney Houston that could sing the National Anthem effortlessly and send shivers up your spine. And I'm sure he will look at me, roll his eyes and go put on a Justin Bieber record....god help me.

RIP Ms. Houston. 

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