Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston Dead at 48

The 54th Grammy awards show is set to become a Whitney Houston tribute evening with the death of this amazing performer who spent the last several years of her life battling drugs, a troubled personal life, nervous breakdowns, and unimpressive public performances, all of it compounded by failing health and a rapidly declining voice. The 48-year-old superstar, Whitney Houston was found dead on February 11, 2012, at a Beverly Hills Hotel. While I was looking forward to the Beach Boys reunion at the awards ceremony, it is obvious that Whitney’s death will overshadow all the excitement. This post is my tribute to an artist who lit up my teenage years, one whose songs made the pain and the joy of love and longing come alive, and one who battled her demons as best as she could.

The late 80s were a time of hope for music. The decade had generated next to nothing in new music that would stand the tests of time and the advent of music television meant that looks and moves often took precedence over content and talent. It was at such a time that Whitney Houston released her first self titled album which included tracks that would go on to be among her all time hits, Saving All My Love, Greatest Love of All, You Give Good Love, and Hold Me. Coming from a family of singers (she was the Daughter of Cissy Houston and a cousin of Dionne Warwick), with good connections in the recording industry, her debut was promoted and marketed by the best machinery one could think of, but it was her vocal talent that made listeners sit up. Here was a voice that was powerful, versatile, and soul stirring. Her persona and album covers were the type you could bring home and your mom would not disapprove. Within a few months, she was a staple of the Sunday afternoon request show on Kolkata’s favorite music show - All India Radio’s Musical Band Box.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Day The Music Died: Roots of Modern Rock

Whether you first heard of Buddy Holly from the fun stuff Weezer video that came with the Windows 95 installation disk, or whether you know about Texas because of Lubbock and Port Arthur, this post is for you. For a lot of contemporary music fans, February 3 is just another day. But this was the day that is remembered by students of modern popular music as “the day the music died” as described by Don McLean in his 1971 big hit American Pie. This was the day when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.D. “Big Bopper” Richardson died in a plane crash in 1959.

Till the time I was able to understand and appreciate the significance of Buddy Holly in the evolution of modern music, I brushed this event off as just another tragedy in the series of tragedies that lines the history of rock. I thought it was an event made famous by the song, and not vice versa. It was not till my early 20s that I began to realize why Buddy Holly was so important, and what his death meant to generations of musicians and music lovers across the world. The opinions and understanding expressed in this post are my personal ones, and it is possible that there are subjective interpretations that might not be in agreement with popularly held views. At the end of the day, I am a lover, not a forensic scientist, and love has its own way of looking at things.

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