I Will, Actually, Always Love You
October 28, 2002
Speaking of mental illness, I am, right now, listening to a dance remix of Whitney Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You". It's not merely one of those thump-thump-thump house mixes, it's got the whole snyths and building drums and oh-the-drama all out production that truly separates a kitsch classic from your run of the mill camp club tracks.
I feel guilty that it's so inspiring (well, as inspiring as one can be while reflecting on bit-ter-sweet mem-o-ries...) because I know if Dolly Parton, the song's writer and original performer, were (1) dead and (2) buried in a coffin with appropriate accommodation for her ample bosom, she'd be rolling over in her grave. Not merely because the film to which this track was attached a decade ago presented this tune as if it were dedicated to Kevin Costner. No, that's merely unfortunate and laughable. But because a song that probably, at one time, had some significance to and resonance with some audience has, at long last, had every shred of sincerity digitally extracted, yielding a cold, shapeless husk of a song. It's an undead musical zombie, rasping against its restraints for the sweet release of a living will, a respite from the clanging 120 bpm machinery that cruelly animates it and respirates it, despite the desire to sing, to dance, to love having long since breathed its last.
And frankly, I'm glad. If we've all got to sit and watch Whitney go on wacky crack-smoking binges and be troubled by intermittent "entertainment news" reports on her erratic behavior, the least she can do is give a little something back. One of the few truly lighthearted moments for me in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks was watching the spread of the wildfire rumor alleging that one Ms. Whitney Houston had overdosed and either died or nearly died, depending on which source you quoted. And that's the sort of diversion that we need more of from a woman. Merely mocking her for marrying an abusive New Edition has-been isn't meeting my ha-ha quota.
Entertain me, you shrill, rock-addled harpie!
I found it very telling that an ex-girlfriend, after checking in on the day after the attacks to be sure that I was okay and that all of my immediate family and friends were well, took a moment in her email to ask, "You didn't start that Whitney Houston rumor, did you? Because that sounds like you."
So, Whitney, thank you. Anonymous shitty overblown dance mix producer, thank you. Dolly Parton, punchline to a million breast jokes, thank you. To all of you, I say (and I mean this, really) with all my heart: I will always love you.