By: Jigme Palden Pazo
"You touched my heart in places that I never even knew"
(Nobody Loves Me Like You Do – Duet with Jermaine Jackson 1985)
It was the era of the punk rock! Of the brash in-your-face British brazenness of Billy Idol with his defiant bad boy rebel yell. And the yankee explosion of feminine defiance of Cyndi Lauper’s eccentricity and Madonna’s un-virginal shock appeal when this demure understated appeal of poise, grace and innocence stamped her presence with her purity and earthiness. Whitney Houston, she of the pure, untainted wholesomeness of raw talent. Of in-depth allure, crept onto the scene. Not so much as broke through but quietly but unmistakably stamped her presence on the music universe in the electric eighties.
I was then a mere pubescent hot-blooded teenager, lost and confused in the wildly tantalizing maze of western mayhem called pop music when I chanced upon the name of what would go on to be the biggest diva before the word was even invented and defined. Her breakthrough ballad Saving All My Love For You with those heart wrenching visuals of the exotic young epitome of female sensuality captivated all of my senses to leave me truly entranced and spellbound.
In my innocence, long lost, and naivety, never to be emulated again, I dared to hope that one day in the future, however far away in the horizon, I would somehow and somewhere marry her and make her mine alone. It was as if it was the very purpose of my being was the reason I was put upon this world. To make her realise the absolute truth of her infinite appeal.
In the years to come, she went to outdo her signature ballad finesse with irresistible foot tapping temptations, the likes of How Will I Know and I Wanna Dance With Somebody which never fail to bring me to my feet no matter how inebriated (especially inebriated) and age-challenged I may be to this very day, and dare I say it, to the day I die.
Then came the turbulence. Tainting the unsullied and hitherto purity of her peerless exuberance. Of whispers of, god forbid, lesbian tendencies, courtesy what was probably not the first of her only prestigious Time magazine cover stories. I was devastated but nowhere as close to the utter dejection I felt when I learnt of her (in my opinion) outrageous marriage to the blatantly unworthy Bobby Brown whose only claim to fame was being a part of a forgettable mildly popular band called New Edition. A name to be quickly swept into the annals of trivia of pop history.
All that changed, even the reports of her dalliance with cocaine and marijuana, no doubt attributed to her wayward and unworthy husband, when she held the entire planet in her elegant fingertips, with her dramatic film debut with The Bodyguard opposite one of the hottest Hollywood heartthrobs of the era, Kevin Costner.
The critics had a field day, ripping the film apart but numbers don’t lie and it went on to be an international blockbuster, in every sense of the word. Thanks in no part to the exceptional soundtrack, buoyed entirely by the Dolly Parton penned I Will Always Love You, that topped the charts in every geographical direction across the globe.
Not long after came more film successes, more modest but nevertheless no less impressive, with Waiting To Exhale and The Preacher’s Wife. Naysayers may argue that the ventures may have sunk without a trace had it not been for the soundtracks that redeemed them. The Shoop Shoop Song from Waiting To Exhale never fails to give me the teenage quivers I felt down my spine when she belted out the lyrics of my pre-adolescent anthem Saving All My Love For You.
Grammys came by the dozens and so did the other less eyebrow raising awards, until her name was firmly entrenched in the history books of human civilisation. Alas, the fall inevitably came with near oblivion. The hit-less drought, when all she hit the headlines was for her wildly erratic behavior and allegations of drug abuse.
But no matter what, what she had achieved and instilled in hearts like mine was an impact like no other. To put it it in no uncertain terms, there will never be another Whitney Houston.
…And I will always love you …