Whitney Houston: My Frequent AM Companion. FM too.

There’s no question I listened to more Whitney Houston than people the age of my children, who were toddlers at the height of her vocal prowess. I’m guessing I heard more Whitney Houston than most people on Earth, being part of a relatively small clique.

Deejays, who played her music in hourly rotation.

With the number of hit songs she had during that era, it was difficult to keep them separated by much more than half-an-hour, it seemed. The only way for deejays to avoid her music, was to change jobs and take up work at another radio station, one that featured a different format. Maybe Oldies Thrash Urban Country music. It’s doubtful you’d find any Whitney Houston music in that musical genre.

I readily admit enjoying her songs. Some I liked more than others, like most any artist’s offering. No song comes to mind that I simply could not stand, which is saying something. Some of my favorite artists recorded tracks that prompted a quick skip on the player, or station-change on the radio – when I wasn’t behind the mike, that is.

There is not now, nor was there ever, a Whitney Houston recording in my – once ample – music collection. I liked her, but not enough to want to buy. Maybe I just heard it often enough at work.

Those who are inundating the social media sites with testimonials of their love for Whitney Houston certainly have the right to do so, and I’ll second any message that speaks solely to her music. As many times as I’ve heard her belting out “I will always love you” since her death, so often in fact, that I probably don’t ever need to hear it again, I’ll admit she had an exquisite voice in her day.

Truth is, if that song came on in the car, I might not – even still – change the station.

When I changed formats (it wasn’t for Oldies Urban Thrash, but it was Country Music), and later quit the radio business, I pretty much fell out of touch with all things Whitney. Probably, I was aware of her fall from grace, drug-wise. I remembered something about her Bobby Brown days and a rehab stint. That’s where my confusion comes in.

There are those who are identifying with her life-struggles, people who claim to understand battling the demons that are drug and alcohol. I just don’t get that.

Whitney Houston could have walked into any restaurant in America and have walked out without having to settle the tab. What business person would cash her check? Take a picture with her and put it on the wall. If there is an equivalent of US-royalty, she certainly was among the closest to it. Does Queen Elizabeth carry a purse to pay for a pack of smokes at the drug store? No. Queen Whitney could have practiced the Royal Hand Wave and rode an open convertible through the parade of life.

All she had to do was sing.

Life struggles? What struggles? Oh, we all have our little crosses to bear. Some people actually have it tough. Those are the folks who have the right to fall victim, if you ask me. Those others who do it for recreation – I just don’t get it.

There were plenty of morning-drive days that I didn’t want to get up with a bright and shiny voice to coax everyone else out of bed and into their new day. That was my job, though. For whatever reason, I never had a craving for drugs. However difficult they are to avoid growing up in the US, it largely depends on the company you keep and the responses that you give in reply. I’m not saying I never partied, but I managed to hold down my job and live through my bathing routine.

Boredom isn’t something I consider a life-struggle. There are many wealthy artists who occupy themselves post-fame while keeping their sinus passages intact for smelling life’s roses. Some people are stronger than others, to be sure, but the many sober citizens of the country aren’t heroes for staying that way. They are exhibitors of the social norm, at least presented from the affluent side of the economic tracks.

Whitney Houston sang well. She did not live that way.

When Jimmy Hendrix died, our little town’s teen club staged a little memorial get-together to listen to his music and lament his death. Naturally, someone wrote a letter to the editor to complain how we teens were celebrating drug abuse.

Although I am of an age now that I better understand the motivation of that letter-writer, I know that was never the intention of those organizing the evening of music.

I also know that those who are commiserating or identifying with Whitney Houston’s lack of self-discipline are not condoning her drug and alcohol abuse.

Temptation is palpable. For those in positions of little optimism, giving in to it is somewhat understandable. What confuses me is the lack of alternative recreational opportunities for those among us who seem to have it all – beautiful looks, adoring fans, fame, fortune, opportunity, health, and more – and then, eventually fritter it all away for their inability to resist the confronting evils.

RIP Whitney. You’ve finally bested the demons.

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