I was driving up the FDR Drive in New York City when I turned on the radio and Whitney Houston’s song “One of Those Days” came on 98.7 Kiss FM.
That song used to always give me a lift. Houston’s voice sounded rich and soulful. The beat was perfect. Houston was singing about the type of day we all love to have.
One of those days
When the sun is shining bright
And my life is going right
And the simple things are not wasted
One of those days
When you’re cruising in your car
And you’re out to see the stars
And it’s warm outside and beautiful
And then Houston’s signature song “I Will Always Love You” came on. There was no DJ talking or a commercial. It just faded from one song to another– the same way the music flowed when the news of Michael Jackson’s death shocked the world. I turned to my wife and told her to check her iPhone.
I was pretty sure Houston was dead.
My wife dismissed me as the skeptical, always thinking about the worst case scenario journalist that I can be but she checked her phone anyway.
“OH MY GOD!” she yelled.
The news reports of Whitney’s death that my wife read off of her phone focused on her admitted drug abuse and her difficult marriage to Bobby Brown. It was sad to read about the life difficulties of someone who was blessed with a voice that probably made hundreds of millions of people smile over the last three decades. If Michael Jackson is the “King of Pop,” Houston certainly was its “Queen.”
But despite her difficulties, it was hard to get Houston’s “One of Those Days” out of my head. It wasn’t even her best song but I still remembered it all these years later. Before I knew she had died, her voice had lifted my spirits. That’s why we need to take some time to think about what Houston added to this world and not completely focus on the very public struggles that she went through.
Her troubles are fair game and an accurate representation of the things that happened in her life. As a woman who sold over 50 million albums in the United States and used the media attention to her benefit, reporting about her struggles is expected. It’s safe to say that her troubles should be used as a cautionary tale for others. Houston acknowledged her troubles in a 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer and a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey.
“The biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy,” Houston told Sawyer.
“I wasn’t happy by that point in time. I was losing myself,” she told Winfrey about her drug use.
But think about it. When you die, would you want the people you leave behind to highlight the low points in your life? No. And guess what? They probably won’t.
“The morning of the Grammys, the world should pause and pray for the memory of a gifted songbird,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement.
The reverend’s sentiments are spot on. It’s certainly worth noting all the amazing things Houston did in her life and career, including being a mom, winning six Grammys and acting in several movies. She was one of the world’s best selling artists for more than a decade and was also considered one of its most beautiful women.
Her voice was unquestionably enchanting. When I got home I listened to a clip of her singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl in 1991. The rendition gives you goosebumps. She was smiling and waving her arms in the air. She crushed the song. Some thought it was pre-recorded, but it was so good that it was released as a single.
Other superstar versions of the song popped up alongside Houston’s. Everyone from Beyonce to Mariah Carey have performed the national anthem during sporting events. They were all good, but Houston’s version was still the best. She turned out the Super Bowl by singing the national anthem.
For Houston, that must have been “One of Those Days.” And thinking about all the joy her music has brought to the world, we have to make sure those “simple things are not wasted.”