Monday, February 13, 2012


There once was a boy from the Midwest who was shielded from everything.  From culture, from music, from anything having to do with the big bad world.  He lived his life totally ignorant of the world of “pop,” until one day after church he sat with his Baptist Minister father, his mother and his sister, in a Michigan Taco Bell.   

Nacho in hand, the boy suddenly looked up and, wide-eyed, stared out the window in a blissful haze.  Because on the radio was something like he’d never heard – something that, one way or another, he was determined to hear more of. 

The boy went out, bought the cassingle of the track he’d heard, ran home to his boombox, and put it on repeat for what must have seemed to his parents to be the next few years, but in reality was probably more like 3 weeks or so.  It was a song that literally changed his life – that opened up a whole new world to him.  It was called “I Will Always Love You,” and it was sung by Whitney Houston. 

Whitney was the boy’s first pop concert – he dragged his parents with him to the Pontiac Silverdome late in 1993.  Whitney was how the boy first experienced true raw emotion through music.  And Whitney was, in one way or another, the soundtrack to his teenage years. 

He'd been a musician all his life - he started playing piano ten years earlier, at age 3 -  but the second he heard the sound coming out of that Taco Bell speaker he knew he wanted to do pop.  And when he finally bought “The Bodyguard” soundtrack CD – his first pop album ever – he flipped over the case, looked at the address of the label, Arista Records, and wrote the company a letter asking how he could be a star just like Whitney.

The letter never got answered, of course, but the seed of his dream had been sown.  Whitney awoke something in him that set him down the path he still walks today.  As a teen he sat in his parents' Audi and blew out the speakers blasting "One Moment In Time," because he was determined to have just one moment of his very own.  He became a published songwriter, a TV host, an entertainment lawyer, and music blogger, all, in some strange way, because Whitney Houston told him he could. 

One could argue that if it hadn’t been Whitney it would have been someone else.  But the point is it wasn’t someone else.  She had something special that crossed over where nothing had before, and reached into the sheltered life of an adolescent kid and shook him out of his ignorant sleep. 

Even though they drifted apart in later years, she was always there.  In the background at a restaurant, on the screen at a bar.  And recently, with her semi-successful comeback, “Million Dollar Bill,” she even ended up with the unofficial song of his summer. 

Now she’s gone, and the boy is realizing just how much a part of his life Whitney really was, and just how much he owes to her. How everything was different before she came into his life, and how different things would be today if she never had.

So, to Whitney, now that you're asleep:  Thank you for waking that boy up.