In the wake of the news of Whitney Houston's death, you've heard a lot of folks say that we've lost "the voice."
It's true, that Houston, the pop superstar who died at age 48 on Saturday, was an immense talent; certainly the best female voice of her generation. I know I'll get some argument there, but I don't care. The woman could belt it out, and her rendition of the National Anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl was as perfect as that song can be sung.
But I squirm a little when "the voice" is discussed as being hushed now in her death, because have we really had Whitney Houston's true voice in recent years?
And by recent years, I mean about ten.
It's not as if Houston was singing like it was the late-1980s and early-1990s, right?
Far from it.
I saw a clip of Houston a couple years ago, trying to deliver us those pipes, and to me that was the real tragedy---not what happened Saturday in the Beverly Hills Hilton.
Houston's physical form died on Saturday, but her voice had been killed off years before, thanks to the usual talent snuffer of alcohol and drugs.
I imagine reaction to her death was similar to that of Marilyn Monroe's, back in 1962. There was shock, of course, but that was quickly followed by a feeling of fait accompli.
It's like what I wrote about Michael Jackson after his death in 2009: did you really envision seeing Houston live to the ripe age of 70 or 80?
That would have been terrific, of course, because it would have meant that the drugs and alcohol would have been licked. But I didn't hold out much hope for that; I don't know about you.
So the words, "Whitney Houston, dead at age 48," just don't hold much shock value for me, as awful as it is for someone to perish that young.
The details of the circumstances of Houston's death are still trickling in, but we seem to be able to agree that she took some---what else---drugs and alcohol and settled in for a bath. Then she apparently drifted into sleep (wonder why?) and after that, we're not sure. Could be heart attack, could be drowning. Not sure.
Reports are conflicted as to the nature of her behavior in the days leading to her death. Some say she was cheerful and happy. Others have called her behavior "erratic." Again, not sure.
The only thing you're ever really sure about in these kinds of mysterious deaths is that the person is, in fact, deceased. Speculation then runs rampant.
Had she lived for 20-30 more years, maybe Whitney Houston would have rescued at least some of her voice. But I really don't care about that. We had it and we can always relive it through recordings, YouTube, etc.
I would have liked to have seen a sober Houston recovered from the drugs and the drinking, perhaps further pursuing a movie career, or acting as an advocate for others struggling with addiction.
I would have liked to have seen her host a talk show or become a spokesperson of some sort.
I had given up on her singing career. The voice was gone years ago.
I'd have liked to have seen any of these things, of course, rather than her being buried this week.
The great tragedy of Whitney Houston isn't just that she wasted her singing talents. It's that she then blew any chance of having a second, even more fulfilling life that likely would have influenced even more people than she touched with her singing voice.
So yeah, sad.