Sunday, February 19, 2012

Whitney Houston

I promise not to harp endlessly  on any more "Fiddler on the Roof" news  for at least a week. While it is a topic that has overtaken my life at least temporarily, it needn't bore my few faithful readers practically into  persistent vegetative states. Instead, I'll speak about another current common topic: Whitney Houston. I'm not a major worshiper of celebrities, but since just about everyone else, including Team Judge Alex,  is putting in his or her two cents' worth on the subject, I'll add my views.

Certainly Ms. Houston's death was a loss to the music world and to the world at large. The woman possessed an amazing voice, combining musicality and [not to be racist] that uncanny ability talented singer of African-American heritage often possess to fluidly add acciaccatura, embellishment or ornamtation to  written notes without causing them to sound overdone. [My mom, who has no African-American heritage of which anyone is aware, also possesses this ability, so I know it's not entirely unique to the African American population, but still it seems so much more prevalent among singers of their ethnicity.].My own mother, as a holder of a doctorate in piano and vocal performance, is critical of many popular singers, but said simply of Ms. Houston that at the times she seemed to have her act together, her voice was incomparable. Many debate her greatest song or greatest performance. Some would say it was the national anthem at whatever Super Bowl  at which she performed it. I didn't hear that one live -- I'm not even sure I was born yet -- but it wasn't my favorite. I can't remember if she was one of the artists who turned the 3/4  anthem into 4/4, or what is was  that caused me to be less than enamoured of  it, but it wasn't my favorite celebrity performance of that song, although I certainly wouldn't put my own pitiful rendition of it against hers for comparison. (Off topic, but my favorite semi-recent national anthem performances were by Huey Lewis and the News, the Dixie Chicks, and Billy Joel. I'd love to hear a Simon and Garfunkel rendition.)

Anyway, I think my own favorite Whitney Houston song was the simple Dolly Parton tune that she turned into a mega-hit. An interesting bit of trivia regarding that song, "I Will Always love You," is that the King of Rock and Roll himself had heard Ms. Parton's recording and had requested permission to record the song himself, which would have thrilled Ms. Parton. The only hitch was at that point in his career, Elvis Presley was not recording any material without being accorded the rights to it. Ms. Parton wrestled with the idea. Having Elvis Presley himself record a song written by one was beyond a mere honor, but in the end, she simply couldn't reconcile with giving up rights to the song. Then along came the movie The Bodyguard, and with it the request to Ms. Parton for Whitney Houston to record the song. Permission was granted, and the rest is history. With all due respect to the King himself, it seems highly dubious that he could have done any more with "I Will Always Love You" than Whitney Houston did. (As a side note, Dolly Parton has earned scads of money from royalties coming in from Whitney Houston's version of her song, and probably stands to earn even more in the near future.)

Regarding Whitney's manner of death, I see no cause to speculate. She's gone and there was no evidence of foul play. I would like to think she would have pulled herself together and would have returned to her state of greatness if luck had intervened on her behalf just one or two more times. In any event, she was a woman of faith, and according to her faith, is now in a much happier place.

Regarding Bobby Brown, I can't know much more about their marriage than can the average fan, nor do I desire to know any more than I do. They did appear to maintain a relationship falling somewhere between civil and cordial. I wish Mr. Brown had been allowed to sit with his and Whitney's daughter during the funeral. It would seem that such would have been a source of consolation to the young woman. There are things, however, that I do not know about the situation, so I'll leave that alone for now.

Rest in peace, Whitney. The world will miss your lovely face and your awe-inspiring instrument of a voice.


  1. I am sorry that Whitney died. But I have to confess that I hate her version of I Will Always Love You with a passion!

    The Dolly Parton version was simple, direct and to and from the heart.

    In my opinion (other opinions can and will, vary) Whitney bayed and screeched her way through the song. I like Whitney's voice, but not her rendition of I Will Always Love You.

  2. I got "snapped at" yesterday night because I asserted the opinion that "I Will Always Love You" was rather cliché and wasn't one on my favorites. My mom was a child of the 80's and obviously has more connection and appreciation to the song than I do. Whitney Houston, while she had a pleasing voice was not an artist that I ever really chose to listen to. Needless to say my mom and her sisters are rather fluttered by this "surprise". Though putting aside their own midlife crisis' this was coming for a while.

    But aside from the assumingly unpopular opinions here, she will forever be remembered as a powerhouse. It's a shame how a person can have everything in front of them. You're right that she should be in a much happier place. :)

  3. Kevin Costner was introduced to "I Will Always Love You" by Linda Ronstadt, who recorded it in the 70s. I think I like Linda's version better than Whitney's, though as a singer myself, I did admire Whitney's powerful pipes. Linda's version gives me goosepimples, though. I like 70s rock, though.

    Here's a link to Linda's version...