"...but February made me shiver, With every paper I'd deliver. Bad news on the doorstep. I couldn't take one more step. I can't remember if I cried, When I read about his widowed bride, But something touched me deep inside,..." Don McClean American Pie
I am not a person who is given over to a lot of emotion when a celebrity dies. I don’t really do that whole feely thing.
But yesterday was different. I don’t know why. I never really gave a whit for Whitney’s music and her stormy personal life. I did watch her dramas unfold and she did seem to me a person who was always struggling to keep her balance as she climbed a slippery slope. Like usual, I always gunned for her and hoped for the best,..and then quickly forgot about it as I turned the page. Then she died.
That was just one of those sobering moments. I think it’s because she was still fighting. Her career was by no means over, and she still had that appeal,…but the finality of it all was simply a rude disillusionment. It shows us the obvious. At the end of the day, you check out with nothing. Everything done on this planet doesn’t amount to a hill of beans when the lights go out. You don’t take your voice and money with you. You don’t take the servants who bow to your every need. You don’t take your limos, houses, jewellery and small dogs. You simply take yourself. Your parking needs to be validated and then you move on to wherever it is you are going. Tasks achieved in an earthly realm never amount to much at the final checkout.
I don’t mean to sound cynical about this. After all, for some reason, I did actually weep when I heard the news about Whitney. I struggled to think of anything she sang that I actually liked or wanted to listen to. I struggled to come to a realization as to why I felt this deeply about her death. It was more in the premature stillness of a voice that had more to give that really cut my soul. I suppose the same could be said of other singers who died too soon. That they had more to give.
But, in the final analysis, is that a bad thing? Maybe they didn’t have more to give. Maybe they gave all that they could and were never able to reconcile the demons that plagued them. Is that really their fault? Or is it ours? Do we place the line of expectation too high for reality?....or is that they (the collective “they”. The ones who checked out too soon) just had too much time on their hands and let the excesses that they could afford play havoc with their lives?
As usual, we have to give the benefit of the doubt until the final autopsy reports validate speculation. It’s a courtesy that must be afforded to everyone in the towers of fame. “We just have to wait before we cast that stone to shatter legacy….”. But what does it really matter? That is simply a formality. Dead is dead. Does it make it more palatable when we find out that it was a heart attack instead of an OD? Does that instantly validate their exit?
48 is still too young and age for any to die at. When it involves a younger person who dies, the intensity of the speculation becomes more visceral. More jaded.
I’m inclined to believe that there was some trouble afoot in regards to Whitney’s demise. To me, however, I simply don’t think that the way she died has any bearing on her reflection as a person. If it was due to a chemical overdose, I have a hard time being critical of it. I don’t care what anyone says, the claws of addiction are wicked in nature. One never learns to master it, one just learns to live with it,..if you are somewhat successful at keeping the hounds of addiction at bay. How many of us are that successful, truth be told? We live in a society in which we are over-taxed in our senses. We are over-taxed in the amount of stuff that comes our way. We are on sensory-overload and we have accepted this knowingly and willingly. I mean, I was told about her death through a phone call and not by anything I read on the internet. I simply turned on the computer and waited for a few minutes for the updates on AOL and MSN to kick in. This is simply the world we live in now, isn’t it? The seventies are gone and with it went a sense of naiveté.
When we lament the fallen idols and their less-than-sterile exit, I can’t help but wonder if there is a certain sense to point the finger back at us a little bit. Not in the way of responsibility. Not that at all. But do we somehow validate our existence by pointing out the flaws in theirs? I mean, let’s face it, we all took a certain element of satisfaction when we watched Lindsay and Brittany self-implode in front of our eyes. We revelled in the 78 day marriage of,…well, I won’t utter her name here,…to that basketball doofus. I mean, we made the K sisters who they are and we are the ones who can’t stand them anymore.
It’s like Colin Clive getting bored with the monster and telling him to go away. There are not a lot of options for Boris at that point.
I never really dug Whitney’s music. I never really got into it and into her as a person. But, for some strange and haunting reason, I think her death will remain with me until mine,…