In hockey, no one on any level wears number 99. His statistical achievements are ridiculous in comparison to all others. His two greatest rivals in talent, Mario Lemiuex and Sidney Crosby, have been tragically derailed by injury because the hockey Gods will not allow anyone to approach his hallowed place. During his final game, the rink announcer broke down and cried before he could finish announcing him as the tradition-honored, star of the game. Muhammad Ali called himself “the Greatest of All Time”, but everyone came to call Wayne Gretzky “the Great One”.
Unbeknownst to many, I have a minor obsession with singing competitions. American Idol. X-factor. The Voice. If people are singing, I will listen in the hope that I will hear something special, something that will move me. I can’t sing to save my life, but I love vocals and critique them relentlessly. All the hours I have spent on these shows have taught me one thing; no one should sing a Whitney Houston song.
She died tonight. Her family is undoubtedly in pain. Her life a roller coaster of stardom and drug-induced despair. The final chapter of her life will live for the next year in sordid and exaggerated detail in every supermarket tabloid. Regret will linger for talent lost or wasted.
I do not care. She is dead, but her talent immortal. Her songs belong to us. They are the gift of her talent, and ours to keep. I am thankful. My enjoyment of music, and by extension my life, is enriched by her songs. She is for me, the greatest female vocalist. Once she sings a song, I can think of no other rendition or variation that would improve it. Not simply on her best songs, but on any song. She is incomparable. Unless you intend to spend the next week in a cave, as her music will be played everywhere, listen….really listen. I am reminded of a Sam Cooke story where he was in the studio with some executives listening to a handsome male singer. Everyone was impressed. Cooke said turn around and listen to him without looking. When they did, they were not nearly as impressed.
Thank you Whitney Houston. You are beauty to the blind man.