After Louis Armstrong’s death in 1971, Dizzy Gillespie tersely declared, “No him; no me.” I think that is one of the most beautifully concise elegies of all time. What else could have been said about the passing of the most culturally significant progenitors of Jazz than that?
As I was deluged by #RIPWhitney tweets earlier this week, it occurred to me that like Armstrong, Whitney Houston was a performer’s performer. Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Zola Jesus, and Rihanna all tweeted tearful missives about the late great and her indescribable influence on them.
And in a weird twist of diva fate, this past week also marked the 20th consecutive week that Adele’s 21 resided in the number one spot in the charts. It is currently tied with Houston’s The Bodyguard for the all-time chart leader. Although I found this timing a little unsettling – the passing of the torch shouldn’t be contingent upon death – I took solace in the fact that Adele is not just an industry-preened tween product, she is a singer and performer of inimitable talents. I also understand that my initial uneasiness was a little knee-jerk. The torch is by no means being transferred as a result of Whitney’s passing, it is being handed off because Adele is INCREDIBLE and deserves all the accolades she continues to receive. But to put it as concisely as possible: no Whitney, no Adele. No her; no them.
Though I can’t say that I am personally a Whitney die-hard, I would be a shell of a music-nerd-critic if I didn’t acknowledge the enormous debt that current popular music owes her. For my track of the week I tried to sift through all the Whitney tracks I could until I realized that above track emphasizes exactly how I think about her: culturally engrained, forward looking, and permanently influential.