I Believe the Children Are Our Future...
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Allow me to be the only person in all of social media who never cared for Whitney Houston.
I first heard of her around 1984 or so, when my friends Dan and Tracy were working at Sweetwater, a club on the Upper West Side in the '60s that catered to an upscale African-American clientele. Cissy Houston used to sing there all the time; then Dan and Tracy started reporting that "Cissy Houston's daughter" was performing there. I remember them saying she sang great, but that she was a total prima dona bee-yatch.
That first giant album came out in 1985, and I spend most of 1986 and '87 doing stand-up comedy in and around Manhattan-- mostly trying to break in at dives on audition night. Plenty of these places put up both comedians and singers, and I can't tell you how many earnest young singers I saw back then, performing songs off that record. It was a thing. I swear, if I saw one more girl that I was trying to hit on hand the pianist the sheet music to "The Greatest Love of All" I would have screamed.
From this I grew to pretty much hate every song on that record, and by extension the singer. And honestly, to me she always came off as a monstrously great voice, but with a thick plastic shell of veneer. All technique, no real soul. Do people really enjoy the air raid siren way she butchers Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You"? I remember an old girlfriend telling me that she saw Whitney in concert in the late '80s or early '90s, could see her right before the show began, and Whitney just threw this faux icy smile across a troubled face like throwing a switch and stepped onstage.
Based on the things Dan and Tracy told me back then, I'm pretty sure Whitney was actually living a lie a lot of her life. I can't help but wonder if that had anything to do with the drug abuse that, I'm guessing, killed her.
OK, flame away. I'm braced.