Sunday, February 12, 2012
I Will Always Love You
Another sad day in the always tough month of February with the death of Whitney Houston. I never thought too much about her music one way or the other, but I remember having debates over the song "I Will Always Love You." Dolly Parton sang the original, but Whitney's version became incredibly popular in the nineties. I always stuck by my feeling that Dolly's version was the best, but my friend Hank disagreed, much to my surprise. "I prefer Whitney's. It doesn't make you feel like taking out the razorblades." In this assessment, I had to agree. Whitney managed to take this terribly sad ballad to lost love and make it seem hopeful, rather than tragic. Dolly's verison evoked the trauma of always loving someone whereas Whitney's interpretation gave room for hope. Maybe it wasn't so awful to have that spot in your heart for someone. Dolly made it the listener feel as if she didn't have a choice -- that's the purity of Dolly. But Whitney makes the listener feel as if it's okay to always love someone, that it might be a good thing.
Now Whitney has passed, much earlier than anyone might have guessed, even with her array of personal demons. She started as a beautiful cheerleader type of singer, a singer who could just get so emotional, baby and lead us into happy worlds of pop joy. But as time passed, we saw Whitney struggle with the vices that grip so many -- drugs, alcohol, difficult love. We saw her transform into what the kids call a hot mess. And still, she was beautiful with the voice that nobody could quite replicate. Alas, rest in peace, dear Whitney, the neon-colored outfits that marked your best years, your prime, the one where you will always love and be loved.