Keidel: When Whitney Houston Sang To Us

By Jason Keidel
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I’ll never forget the day I heard that Elvis died. The words scratching from the radio meant little to me, until I saw my father practically collapse in the car he was driving. We were on a fishing trip in the Florida Keys, one of many visits we made when I was a boy. Perhaps I was seven, too young to grasp death, but keenly aware of my pops’ pain.

I wasn’t really around for Elvis, but I remember Michael Jackson, my generation’s Elvis, all too well, as Thriller was the soundtrack to my adolescence. And a pall falls upon an entire region, if not a nation, when our icons die. Some deaths double as a time portal, to an earlier, if not better, time.

So it is with Whitney Houston. While no one would properly compare her to the aforementioned giants, she will be forever linked to the Giants.

How odd that Whitney Houston, known for many things but particularly for her flawless rendition of our national anthem on a sweaty night in Florida, to an overtly and overly patriotic nation at war with Saddam Hussein, could serve as a prologue and epilogue to a Super Bowl?

Who knew we’d fight Hussein again? Who knew Whitney Houston would die after another Giants championship? Death always has an eerie cadence and, sometimes, coincidence.

If there’s been a better rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, I’d like to hear it. Houston’s was a perfect preamble to one of our greatest Super Bowls, won by the Giants by one point over the Bills.

One needn’t parse her past to understand where it all leads with Ms. Houston. We know brilliant entertainers come with equal parts talent and torment. It doesn’t taint what their talents gave us. We all knew where we were, and with whom, when her glistening face roared while F-16s soared over her. It was one of the rare moments her sound was more profound than that of the four fighter jets.

I was 21 when she sang that day in 1991, delivered a delicious slice of Americana into my living room, maybe the lone moment in history when all Americans cheered in unison. I was still just a kid, entirely untouched by the darkness of death. It seems like a lifetime ago. It was a lifetime ago, particularly for Ms. Houston.

This isn’t meant to trivialize Houston’s death by recalling a football game. On the contrary, we rely on sports for context, like her music, bookmarks in our pockmarked lives. Times like these leave us to the familiar, to the family bond of sports, one of the few refuges we have left in life.

And because of Whitney Houston, all our lives were a little better for a few minutes in 1991, if not longer.

Feel free to email me: Keidel.jason@gmail.com
www.twitter.com/JasonKeidel

Was Houston’s national anthem the best ever? Remember the fallen icon below…

Comments

One Comment

  1. Charlie Sheen's Miss Crack Hoe America Pageant says:

    LINDSAY LOHAN WILL BE CROWNED CRACK QUEEN OF AMERICA SINCE WHITNEY HOUSTON COULD NOT FULFILL HER TITLE CUZ SHE A DEAD CRACK HOE.

  2. Charlie Sheen's Live Crack Show on Broadway says:

    WATCH LINDSAY LOHAN CRAWL ACROSS THE STAGE PICKING UP EVERY LITTLE CRACK CRUMB AND LOAD HER PIPE. SHE HAS WHITNEY HOUSTON’S BIG SHOES TO FILL.

  3. Charlie Sheen's Live Crack Show on Broadway says:

    THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND, THE CRACK. WHITNEY HOUSTON IS UNABLE TO APPEAR DUE TO HER BEING A DEAD CRACK HOE. LINDSAY LOHAN REPLACED HER AS THE MOST INFAMOUS CRACK HOE IN AMERICA.

    1. bbbbbhhhtt says:

      Why you go suck something – like a 220 electric current live wire. (you moron)

      1. bbbbbhhhtt says:

        I forgot. You also smell like a dead crack anybody.

  4. Robert Richardson says:

    I’m never was a Whitney Houston fan but more of Mariah Carey and Basia. I consider her presentation of the Star Spangled Banner the best ever, especially that the New Jersey Giants won that ’91 SB. When given the backdrop of Desert Storm it was a surreal, epic, timeless moment frozen in history. Thank you J.K. for your perspectives … UdaMan Dog!

  5. Robert Richardson says:

    I’m not a Whitney fan but I consider her presentation of the Star Spangled Banner the best ever, especially that the New Jersey Giants won. When given the backdrop of Desert Storm it was a surreal, epic, timeless moment frozen in history. Thank you J.K. for your perspectives … UdMan!

  6. Charlie Sheen's Crack Pipe TV Special says:

    AND THE AWARD FOR BEST CRACK HOE GOES TO: WHITNEY HOUSTON! WHITNEY COULDN’T BE HERE TODAY CUZ SHE’S DEAD BUT LINDSAY LOHAN ACCEPTED THE BRONZE CRACK PIPE INSTEAD.

  7. GothamGirl says:

    Thank you so much Jason Keidel for this beautiful article. I was thrilled when my beloved Giants won the Super Bowl on the 5th. However, my joy was significantly reduced after hearing about the death of Whitney Houston. I think those of us who grew up listening to her in her prime were hit especially hard by this unnecessary tragedy. She will be missed. I thank her for sharing her amazing talent with us and I hope she has finally found peace.

    1. JK says:

      My pleasure, Gotham. I thank you for reading and responding. You can clearly tell that this one – forgive the cliche – came from the heart.

  8. Meme Meyagi says:

    News of Whitney Houston’s death travelled with such speed. When I heard I couldn’t help but crack with emotion. She was a real heroin. It’s such a blow. She made a real hash of things though. Her life just went to pot. Someone should have kept tabs on her

    1. JK says:

      Very classy, dude. Your cheap and transparent puns are unwarranted and rude. Nothing like making fun of a woman after she dies. But I’m sure you’re still quite pleased with yourself.

  9. Jonas Altman-Kurosaki says:

    This is a touching tribute, Jason. I definitely tend to think of things in relation to sports – my youngest brother’s first steps happened Memorial Day 2001, which I only remember because of the Mets game I was at that day. I always used to chuckle growing up when, at every swim meet my team hosted, they would play Houston’s rendition of the anthem rather than ever having someone to sing. I think that detracted my appreciation for it, because to me, it became like playing Kate Moss every day at Yankee Stadium. But there is no denying that Whitney nailed it, and I know that if I were in charge of a sporting event, I would not hesitate to play that recording either.

    1. JK says:

      Thanks, Jonas. Nice to hear from you. It’s been too long since we’ve chatted. And I’m glad you see I’m not diminishing her talents by equating her with football.

  10. Jim in VA says:

    There has never been a rendition like that! Whitney was the All-American girl and she represented all of us on that day. I have never seen anyone do it with more feeling that Whitney did on that day. Every time I see the rendition, it still gives me goose bumps and now, brings a tear to my eye. Rest in peace Whitney, you were amazing.

    1. JK says:

      Indeed she was, Jim. Thanks for reading and responding, as always, sir.

  11. jon says:

    I’ve seen this anthem rendition mentioned a lot since her death. I dont mean to be a hater but she was lip syncing.

    1. Jonas Altman-Kurosaki says:

      Was she lip syncing to someone else’s voice? Because otherwise, you really do mean to be a hater, so don’t try to hide it.

      1. jon says:

        no, she was not. does that really matter though?

        1. JK says:

          I’ve heard from many sources that she sang that live. But even if she didn’t why bring it up? Does it add to the dialogue? Does it offer anything profound in the light of her death? Really, Jon. Bad job.

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