It’s 2am on February 26th, and I can finally grieve. I’m sitting here in front of my keyboard crying my eyes out, listening to “I Will Always Love You” on repeat.
I’m just now letting myself go because Mrs. Linc has been devastated, so I’ve been listening to her and being as supportive as I can. Besides, what can some white boy possibly feel about the sudden snatching away of this amazing presence, right? So I’m dealing with my feelings on my own time. I think Michael Jackson is the only other artist who is so completely wound through my life.
How has Whitney Houston been so deep in my life?
“Greatest Love of All”–My fifth grade graduation class theme song.
Her first album was one of the ones I listened to most when I needed to block out the sounds of my parents fighting or my dad beating my mom. Her soothing voice reached right into the middle of me then, just like it does now.
Even though I was mostly a metal drummer as a teenager, a lot of my original drum inspirations came from listening to early rap and West Coast top 40. Growing up in California I was immersed in it. I knew I had a good internal sense of rhythm, but Whitney’s albums taught me to be real careful with my beat placement and sit much tighter in my pocket than I had before. For the first time I understood how much one wrong bass kick or cymbal crash could throw off the mood of a song. No matter where you listen in her career, it’s the most amazing example of drums and voice winding together in support of each other. Ok, maybe the drums are a bit odd on “I Want to Dance with Somebody”, but not every song is perfect.
Being an awkward pre-transition teenager, stumbling through life and painfully embarrassing crushes on the girls around me was horrid. I knew they would never like me back, and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” was the perfect mope and hope song. I cried so much in my room with that tune moving through my headphones. I also was amazed by “Saving All My Love for You”. I knew she must be telling the stories of real women in that song. As a teen wanting desperately for one girl to be my girlfriend, the idea that there were grown women out there who would willingly play second fiddle to some married dude who would drop by whenever he felt like it horrified me! Ah, teen angst. I wouldn’t do those years again for anything.
When I came out of the closet in rural Michigan, she was waiting for me in remixes in the gay clubs. I instantly felt more at home and safer following the sound of her voice into this new stage of my life.
During my lean, loneliest, lowest and happiest years, her voice was always there. It seemed like every time I had a life challenge or celebration, Ms. Houston had a song that spoke to it. But sometimes I wondered who was taking care of her and inspiring her when she faced her own lonely nights and trials.
When I heard she was dead, it felt like someone had sucker punched me out of nowhere. I hate the thought that starting in March, kids will be born into a world that has never had Whitney Houston in it.
I’m going to go build a playlist or two on Grooveshark now.