Monday, February 13, 2012
Whitney Houston, 1963-2012. There is a certain wistfulness in her expression here that hints at a deeply troubled soul.
There is really little point in my adding my two cents’ worth to the outpouring of post-mortem media bloviation in the wake of Whitney Houston’s untimely passing this Saturday past. The newspapers and teevee stations will have a completely predictable field day rehashing the high and low points of her career, the sad and sordid details of her death, the sound bites from the bereaved.
It’s an all-too-familiar script, one that practically writes itself. Talented singer and/or actor sets the world on fire with his or her brilliance, develops an unhealthy reliance on Pleasurable But Dangerous Chemicals, suffers miscellaneous setbacks and is no longer a Big Name, then dies at an early age - generally as a result in overindulgence in the aforementioned Chemicals.
In the case of Ms. Houston, it’s an especially poignant loss. When she was at the peak of her game, nobody could touch her: She had a voice that was completely incomparable, coupled with extraordinary beauty. Her smile could light up a room with megawatt brilliance.
Alas, brilliance always seems to have its dark side, especially in the world of music. A short list of great artists who self-destructed far too early would have to include Ms. Houston along with Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Michael Jackson, and Amy Winehouse. What a sad, fucking waste.
She was, for a while, a local presence here in the Atlanta area. The house she shared with husband Bobby Brown stood adjacent to (if I recall correctly) the sixteenth tee of Country Club of the South in Alpharetta, a course I used to play frequently in the context of my duties at the Great Corporate Salt Mine. In a neighborhood of magnificent houses, the Houston/Brown residence stood out, just a bit more opulent than the others surrounding it. And yet, one could sense that there was no happiness there... even before the revelations concerning Brown’s abuse of his wife were made public.
Requiescat in pace, Whitney. Your voice will always be with us to provide a measure of bittersweet comfort... a comfort you were never able to find for yourself.