Why Does it Hurt So Bad

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I’m going to explore my soft  feminine side here (and, believe it or not, it’s a sizeable hunk) so bear with me.

I come to the defence of dearest Whitney. She’s taking a helluva drubbing for her performances in England and Ireland and it wasn’t much better in Australia before that. Understand that I love Whitney. I really do. I like her better than Gladys Knight or Anita Baker or even Streisand, I suppose. In her heyday you couldn’t touch Whitney for that voice. God, what a gift! But she’s obviously on the backside of that once glorious career now and, though you have to give her credit for trying, the results have not been pretty.

Did she do it to herself? Did she waste it? Maybe. Probably. She has to own so much of it. We all know what happened to Whitney Houston and some of the people she fell in with and some folks have taken absolute glee in her descent. But here’s the thing and here’s why no matter what she’s done and how much of it was her fault she will forever have my sympathy and support. I cannot fathom what it must be like to have that extraordinary reservoir of talent and watch it seep away. My heart breaks for her. Imagine, if you can,  taking to that stage knowing that the voice of twenty years ago is still echoing in the mind of every audience member..and knowing that you haven’t got a prayer of summoning it once again.  It must be soul-destroying.

Sinatra watched his instrument ebb away too. But Frank would compensate with swagger. There’s no such top-up available to the divas in our midst. We build them up and we watch them fall and when they struggle again to get anywhere near the Olympian heights they once enjoyed we collectively cluck our tongues and say, ‘what a shame’. And it is. And the performer has to live with the legacy lost.

Do yourself a favour. Go to YouTube and watch Whitney sit alone on stage at the 1996 MTV Movie Awards and sing Why Does It Hurt So Bad.  Watch it for the singer she was and watch it for the talent she had and if it doesn’t bring you close to tears you’d better take a moment to check your pulse.

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2 Responses to “Why Does it Hurt So Bad”

  1. a great piece of writing and insight. I remember Whitney years and years ago when she arrived in a hotel in Santiago Chile. They roped off a large portion of the hotel dining room for her and her entourage and at that time she seemed like a really nice person, full of laughter and caring, it was all quite evident. What a pity what is happening to her today.

  2. Beautiful Dave. Very, very insightful. I can’t imagine having to live up to the memories that remain in a fan’s mind over the years.

    We seem to have evolved into a society that values eternal youth, and while we might be able to slow the march of time through external “tweaks”, no one can halt what time does naturally to most voices. It is sad those who love her, hold her to the same standard of her prime. Simply unachievable.

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