My Own Personal Whitney Tribute

Whitney Houston just died, like so many too-young people with addiction problems, in a hotel of unknown causes.

The new and old media will be buzzing with the story, with breathless updates of any new detail, showing clips of the singer, interviewing anyone who knew her or didn’t know her very well but will talk anyway. The blogosphere will jump in with their take.

Then the backlash, the more cynical people who will carp that her fans shouldn’t act like they knew her. It’s ridiculous to get upset at the death of some distant celebrity who probably did this to herself. Don’t put a drug addict on a pedestal. Yada yada.

All I know is this:

I’m incredibly sad. I was so rooting for her to be one of those fallen idols who somehow found their way back. (Robert Downey Jr. and Owen Wilson seem to have. Amy Winehouse didn’t make it.) I’ve never been cursed with substance addiction and can only feel sympathy for those who have to struggle with it.

She had one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. I loved the way she’d throw her head back and open her throat to the sky and break out in smiles as her golden voice poured out of her. Gospel voices have always been my favorite, ever since I was a little girl in lily-white rural Minnesota, spinning Motown records over and over on my record player.

I first became aware of her in the 80s with this song: How Will I Know?
It was a catchy, peppy little pop tune that any glory-noting baby diva could have sung. But she was so beautiful and seemed to glow when she sang, even when lip synching.

Soon, the extent of her talent would become clear. I love her vocal on I Have Nothing. (Sorry about the ad–YouTube is frantically taking down all the unauthorized Whitney stuff as we speak.)

And of course, she starred with then red-hot Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard, reinterpreted Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You, and shot into the stratosphere, never having even the option to be a normal human being again. I liked her in the film. Her acting wasn’t rangey, but I totally believed she was who she was supposed to be.

Then the Bobby Brown days and the oddness and her voice was silenced, with only the promise that she might get it together someday to offer those of us who loved to listen to her sing.

Of her later music, I really love this song: My Love is Your Love

I wish peace to her daughter and her family, and wish I could be writing this when we were in our 80s instead of our late forties.

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