Why Does it Hurt So Bad?

Gone at 48. Take a deep breath and think about the talent that was Whitney. I am re-posting a piece I wrote almost two years ago on this blog because I really don’t think I can say it any better now…now that she’s gone.

April 2010

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.


8 Responses to “Why Does it Hurt So Bad?”

  1. someone on CNN said, ‘when she opened her mouth, music came out’. She had such a soulful voice. It’s sad. It’s really sad. And hard to believe she’s gone. She’s with the angels now.


  2. beautiful voice. I was shocked and still have hard time to believe she’s gone… how was it? gone but not forgotten… how true…

  3. Catherine Bell Says:

    It is so very sad that at 48 she is no longer with us. But we must remember over the next few days and weeks when all the crazy talk and TMZ garbarge starts that she was someone’s Mother, Daughter and family. Their sadness and hole in their hearts will never end.

    • Sadly, we live in an age when no stone..no matter how personal..remains unturned.

      • I think the loss of Whitney should be an eye opener for all. Never, will we hear such a beautiful voice. In fact, I believe all celebrities who are role models for our children should have to take mandatory drug tests. Do they want to be role models, probably not, but the reality is, they are. If they test positive for drugs (just like athletes), then they should not be allowed to continue making music or movies. They should be banned and then maybe we can help stop this crazy train. Look at Lindsay Lohan, we can only pray that she learns from this!

      • Jeorgee, as long as there continues to be free will, people (famous or not) will prove to be all too human. We mess up. We’re flawed. When we assume the celebrated few are above these mistakes and can sidestep the most obvious miscues, we often make a huge mistake. In fact, the rich and famous are probably more vulnerable than most. And the simple fact is that we are all on a life track. Not everyone is going to check out comfortably at a well-nourished hundred years. People say that the good die young and some will go before their time. I’m not so sure. Maybe, sad as it seems, it’s exactly their time. There will be no end of conjecture about the nature of Whitney Houston’s death. On the surface it does not seem as though she was a happy woman. I can’t claim to know her demons. Is she in a better place now? We can hope.

  4. I see what you’re saying, but this really has to stop. Whether it is your time or not, too many people are taking prescription drugs for the wrong reasons. Too many people are making money off of the insecurities of others. I doubt it was her time to go. I think that is a bizarre way to look at the tragedy. Was she troubled “YES”, was she an addict “YES”, but was it her time? NO! At least that’s my take on her passing. God Bless her.

  5. Enjoy you on The Morning Show & your writings.

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