I've sat on this a couple of days, desperately searching for the silver bullet of logic to make what I'm about to write not appear to be a complete reversal of previously published thoughts. I'm willing to believe a great many things about myself, but no matter how much sugar I sprinkle on this turd of a rationalization, it still tastes of, you know.
Someone who looks an awful lot like I do, and who has the password to this blogger account, wrote a scathing piece about why she could give a fig that poor, sad, Amy Winehouse made the leap into the inevitable, and how we should shut up about how it's a tragedy.
And then Whitney Houston goes and dies. And that writer feels, well, something. She casts around desperately for a reason that has more substance than sheer nostalgia and that can somehow justify her emotion at Houston's death when she nearly cheered at Winehouse's because, at least, we would get to stop hearing about the latter's antics.
Here's the pathetic result of that casting about:
Whitney Houston was truly singular. Much as it was cool to stop liking her after her airplay exceeded one's tolerance, I came back to Whitney in the 90s. Part nostalgia, part realization that, though Greatest Love of All is seriously sappy, no one else could have done it. One of the things that reality talent competitions have taught me (other than the fact that a lot more of you are getting pregnant in high school than I approve of, and more of you really need to consider college) is that there is an ocean of difference between talent and Talent. While discussing the X-Factor with my father this year, I noted that it was unfair to ask any of the participants to sing a song by Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey because, while they could likely get the notes out, their versions would only highlight how short they fall of the original. Whitney Houston's Talent was effortless and it's why I gave her first grudging respect and then true admiration once the 7th grade dance memories faded.
I don't know why she couldn't keep it together. I don't know how anyone in her position wakes up one day and decides crack is a good idea. I do know that she didn't then go out and cut an album whose title track was "Crack Is Dope!" (Unlike our previous dead drug addict whose claim to fame was that she had a hit with a song about how the people who wanted her to stop doing drugs and get help were lames.) We had to watch Whitney Hosuton's Talent evaporate.
So news of her death did make me sad. She had a once in a generation voice and she totally effed it up. So I guess I was sad and angry. I don't want Houston to get lumped into the sad sack remembrances we reserve for the merely talented who bump themselves off due to drugs. I don't want retrospectives to put her photo after Winehouse's in the annals of people who recently died and also did music. I want her to remain in a class of her own (and I don't think it's unfair to say that Jennifer Hudson couldn't hold a candle to Houston - she can't, that's the point, no one can).
I'm not going to go so far as to say that Houston's death was a tragedy - I still like to reserve that for truly serious things - but it was a death worthy of reflection. We knew Houston before she knew drugs and we knew what she was capable of. That she gave it up along the way, yeah, that makes me sad, and I don't mind if that makes me a hypocrite.
2 weeks ago