Do you remember when Whitney Houston first became famous? I do, and it was a long time ago: 1985, which was, in many ways, quite a different world from today’s world. She was only 22, in 1985, and I was only 25. What was music, in the 1980’s, without Whitney Houston? And, for that matter, what has music become, especially singing, since the 1980’s, and since Whitney?
Whitney and her talent – her gift – left an indelible impression on contemporary American popular music and, if there’s a lesson to be learned from Whitney Houston’s tragic, early death, which was apparently caused by the combination of prescription drugs and alcohol, it’s this: If you’re a gifted artist, please don’t attempt to legally medicate yourself (and your gift) into what is commonly referred to as: “being normal”.
Creative people often enjoy having their moods altered by illegal drugs, as Whitney did, because it’s in their nature to enjoy life, to experiment and to experience as much of life as possible, to make sense of the world in a unique way, and to communicate this unique perception and these experiences to others in a way they will understand, which is what Whitney did with her singing, and the fact is that Whitney was NOT doing any of THIS when she died.
When she died, Whitney had apparently succumbed to the temptation to medicate her creative self into “normalcy” with prescription drugs, psych meds, and alcohol, all of which are perfectly legal, simply in order for her to get through the psychic pain of everyday life (in this case: a pre-Grammy awards party, which, for her, at this time in her life, HAD to HURT).
Just a little too much of one legal substance or another that afternoon, which are what she had become accustomed, daily, to taking – or the combination thereof – is what did Whitney in.
“Partying” with illegal drugs didn’t kill Whitney; not even years and years worth of partying. Trying to be “normal” – via legal drug/alcohol use – is what killed her.
I’ve never thought of Whitney as “normal” or “average”, nor would I have ever expected her to be. And I feel likewise about all of the other songwriters, singers, and musicians who have died similar, tragic, early deaths.
For some reason, it seems the story of Whitney’s wonderful life must also have included her tragic, untimely death (at 48). Perhaps her life is made all the more precious a gift to us, now that it’s seen by us for what it really is: so brief?
Perhaps her joys and her sorrows, her good times and her bad times, are better seen by us now for what they were for Whitney then: the tragedies and triumphs of an imperfect and loving soul struggling to stay sane in an imperfect and hateful world? Perhaps Whitney never could have hit all of those heart-felt soaring highs notes had she not also experienced all of those sorrowful low notes in her own personal life? Perhaps the gift that she was to us all has been made all that much greater to us now because of these things? God only knows. Thank you Whitney, and God bless you.
Whitney’s daughter certainly wasn’t ready for her to go, now, and for this reason alone I doubt that Whitney was ready to go, now, either. She was probably doing her best to live a “normal” life for her daughter, with our modern society’s legal “stamp of approval”: psych meds, prescription drugs, and alcohol.
VIDEO AUTOPSY RESULTS UPDATE (3/22/2012)