So as we have all heard, Whitney Houston has recently passed away. I don’t know about you but I was very heartbroken over the news. Whitney Houston’s music was such a staple in my childhood. In fact along side Michael, her music was the soundtrack of my young life. I ended up breaking the news to my mom. I think she shed tears. We didn’t talk long enough after I told her. She respected and admired her, despite all her flaws.
So as I type this and think about how people and things from my childhood are dying one by one, I want to take the time to reflect on Whitney’s music. This woman had the worlds greatest voice. I don’t care what anyone says. Her talent came straight from her very soul. I don’t think all of her wonderful music would have been as powerful were she a mediocre singer.
“The Greatest Love of All” is Whitney’s best song ever. EVER! It is fact. Anyone who thinks otherwise will be brow-beaten into submission. It was a glorious showcase of her vocal talents and is without a doubt one of the most inspirational songs ever written. There isn’t a person alive over age 30 that hears the phrase “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way” and not think of her. It also makes me think of that scene in “Coming To America”, but that’s another post. SEXY CHOCOLATE!
This song is from her first album, but listening to it again in my personal celebration of her life and music, the whole thing is epic. Though “Greatest Love of All” is a fantastic song, “You Give Good Love” is my favorite track. I love how sensual and soulful this song is, while also being innocent and sweet. It’s such a beautiful song. In hindsight, letting a six year old listen to this is kind of disturbing. Luckily my parents were intelligent and awesome and I turned out ok.
My first real memory of when I became aware of who she was the song “I Wanna Dance With Somebody(Who Loves Me)” lived on the radio. This song is so awesome, I’m jealous of it. It’s so infectious and bubbly. If you can hear this song and not tap your foot or dance or something, you have no soul. My love of this song could have something to do with my childhood love of the video. It’s silly to watch now. But you can’t tell an 8 year old me that all those bright flashy colors and people flailing around is not awesome.
The “I’m Your Baby Tonight” album was the first Whitney Houston tape, yes TAPE, that I bought with my own money and it was worth every cent. The title song “I’m Your Baby Tonight” was played in rapid succession for like 6 hours. My poor rewind button. A lot of people have forgotten about the song “Miracle”. Good golly gee I love that song. This was during my awkward phase when I really thought I could relate to pain and heartbreak. I’ve mentioned before, I was a stupid child. My favorite though was “My Name Is Not Susan”. Listen to it, you’ll hear why.
Then the soundtrack to “The Bodyguard” came into my possession. And the world was forever changed. Well not really, but you get what I’m hinting at. Do I even need to really speak about her version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”? Do I really? You all know how I feel about remakes of songs. This is the exception to that thought process. It was perfect in ever conceivable way. Isn’t it like one of the Top 25 songs of all time? If not, then it darn well should be.
However, my song from that soundtrack was “Run To You”. The night the news broke, I was driving to work and this song started playing and I burst into tears at the wheel. I was still in shock over the news, but hearing this really hit me hard. I will never hear this woman perform this song live. I’ve had several opportunities and I’ve missed them all. I was so morose over the thought. Anyway. I love this song out of all the ones on the soundtrack. I can’t think of any reason why other than the fact that it prods at an inner yearning. My imprisoned romantic side at rage, I guess.
Skip a few years to the “Waiting To Exhale” soundtrack ended up in my collection. “Exhale(Shoop Shoop)” was a defining song for the film. It’s beautiful and sad. Again, this is a song that tugs at that romantic side that refuses to die. At this point you can hear in her voice that A. she had matured greatly and B. there is some real emotion behind the lyrics. It’s there. I can hear it. Same as with “Why Does It Hurt So Bad”. And that song is pretty powerful too.
Exactly one year later, “The Preacher’s Wife” came out and with it a song that I sit up there with “Greatest Love of All” as her greatest. “I Believe in You and Me” gives me the absolute chills. I really get emotional every time I listen to it. This is a song that I don’t understand why it grabs me like it does. This is one of those songs that when you hear it, you can’t do anything. You have to stop and just listen to it. It is arresting. This soundtrack I don’t have so I don’t know many of the other songs. Nor have I seen the movie. Maybe it’s time.
The last Whitney album I got was “My Love is Your Love”. Like everyone else at the time, I fell in love with “Heartbreak Hotel”. Writing this blog post it occurred to me that I haven’t heard this in a while. I will though as part of my mourning process. The mix with her and Faith Evans and Kelly Price was magical. At the time, those were three people I never thought I’d see performing together. But thank God they did. Best break up song ever. “It’s Not Right, But It’s OK” was the ‘I’m moving on’ anthem. Every woman everywhere was singing this song. Me included. Don’t judge me. It’s a damn shame that “I Learned from the Best” came out 3 years after I needed it. It’s ok though. My 20 year reunion is coming up soon.
Researching I learned that she came out with albums in 02 and 09. I don’t know how I didn’t hear about those, but I’m going to have to run out an get them, if only to complete my collection. I also learned she is in a remake of one of my favorite movies, “Sparkle”. I heard they were remaking it and I vowed savagely that I would not be seeing it. But darn it all, now I have to.
This woman’s music has been in my life, for my whole life. I have so many memories, both good and bad that I can hear one of her songs and go back to those times. There will never be another Whitney Houston. There will be imitators and their will be the ones that look back on her music as inspiration, but they will never be her. She was as unique and as original as they come. She’s irreplaceable. I will miss her and her beautiful angelic voice. Though we have her music to keep close to us, we’ll always be reminded that she’s gone. And no matter what anyone thinks of her personal life, her flaws, her failings, at the end of the day all it comes down to is the music.
Rest in peace Ms. Houston. It’s too soon, but you’re home now.