Whitney Houston died last night (perhaps you heard about it?) Condolences to her family, including the daughter she left behind; it's sad when any life is cut so short -- but especially when someone had such a God-given gift as Houston's voice. The fact that those talents pretty much went to waste for well over a decade before she died only compounds the tragedy.
When Michael Jackson died nearly three years ago, it struck an emotional, generation chord for me; I wrote about how a Jackson 5 disc was the very first record I purchased and about what the eventual King of Pop meant to my so-called Generation Jones in a post called "The Love You Save." I can't write anything like that about Whitney Houston -- I really had no emotional connection to her or her music at all. I'm pretty sure that's because when she first hit the pop charts in 1985, I was 26 years old, starting a new job and dealing with the various ups and downs of sudden adulthood. Unlike all the pop stars that came before her, I wasn't hearing her in nightclubs or frat parties or even listening too much Top 40 radio. It's interesting -- sometimes pop culture unites us but sometimes it's a dividing line. I guess I was just the wrong side of Whitney Houston.
Today the media is obsessing over how much tribute will be paid to Houston at tonight's Grammy Awards. Some homage is surely apprpropriate, but hopefully it won't be all-Whitney-all-the-time at the expense of other artists. The whole point of the Grrammys is to honor people who made the most of their remarkable talent over the last year. Sadly, in the end, Whitney Houston was someone who squandered too much of hers.