Whitney

Why can’t we just let it be? Why do we have to dig, and ask, and stalk, and uncover the private and potentially even more heartbreaking details about the death of an icon? What is it in us that must be satiated?

I realize knowing the full story is important for us to move on, to put it to rest, but in this very sad and untimely instance of Whitney Houston’s death, I find myself simply hoping for people to leave the “rest of the story” alone.

We know she was having a hard time. We know life with Bobby wasn’t roses. We know that a superstar among superstars lives a life that 99.99% of earth’s population will never remotely understand.

Yet we can’t leave it alone. We pry. We check TMZ. We watch Nancy Grace-type “news” coverage, that, if we stop and think about it, should make us all sick during moments such as this. Look, I was just watching HLN’s coverage about Whitney, so I’m in this like the rest of us. But I continue to grow tired of it.

A good story is a good story, and the death of a musical legend in her Beverly Hills hotel room literally 24 hours before the GRAMMY Awards is a captivating story. Yes, of course. But since 99.99% or more of us cannot and will not ever understand what it was like to live Whitney’s life, I sincerely hope we can focus on the good times: her good times, and the good times she brought every single one of us.

Whitney Houston was a beautiful part of creation. She obviously had one of the best singing voices ever. Let us all pause and consider her wonderful contributions to our world. Let’s focus on the good times.

How do you want to be remembered?

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Frank Sinatra: The Mob and The Music

“The music was the engine of the life. If there had been no music, there would have been no immense obituaries and no televised farewells. To be sure, Sinatra was one of those figures whose art is often overshadowed by the life…In the end, only the work matters. Sinatra’s finest work was making music.”

From Pete Hamill’s book, Why Sinatra Matters.

The Chairman of the Board was one of Frank Sinatra’s nicknames, due in part to his vague connections to the mob world, along with his immense celebrity status and business sense.

“Sinatra established the precedent for major artists to take on record companies and manage their own business affairs. He founded his own record company, Reprise Records, in 1961 and demonstrated that artists could take artistic and business control of their own affairs. He contributed to an ethos of independence in celebrity culture and virutally pioneered the tradition of the popular vocalist as auteur.”

From the book Frank Sinatra, by Chris Rojek.

Well into the digital age, it’s interesting to consider what this superstar did in the early 1960s of the United States, when he wasn’t happy with his current industry arrangements – he started his own record label. But note the significant difference when compared to other artists who have started their own record labels: you’ve heard of this one, and it still exists.

Throughout his entertainment career, Sinatra accomplished a couple of things (from Sinatra.com): 11 Grammy Awards, Grammy Hall of Fame Award, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and Legend Award; Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, 1954 (From Here to Eternity); Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Medal of Honor Award, 1983; Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President Ronald Reagan, 1985; Congressional Gold Medal, 1997; Inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame, 1980; Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP, 1987; 3 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; Honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the Stevens Institute of Technology, 1985; performed on more than 1,800 musical recordings and amassed an annual income estimated at the end of his career in the tens of millions of dollars; this includes income from concerts, recordings, real estate ventures and holdings in several companies, including a missile-parts concern, a private airline, Reprise Records, Artanis Productions and Sinatra Enterprises.

And then there’s the mob.

No assumed indictments here, just some info as best as we have it recorded today. Of course, no one outside the actual mafia circles of communication (including the CIA and FBI) really know what occurred in most of these situations. Either way, there’s plenty of info/evidence to know that Ol’ Blue Eyes was in on some level.

From Anthony Bruno’s article, “Frank Sinatra and the Mob,” from TruTV.com

“On February 10, 1961, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover sent a pointed memo to United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, regarding singer Frank Sinatra’s extensive connections to organized crime figures…Special agents had been keeping tabs on the singer since 1947 when he took a four-day trip to Havana and painted the town red with a gaggle of powerful Cosa Nostra members who had gathered there for a mob conference. Hoover’s unstated message to the attorney general in that memo was as subtle as a sledgehammer: Look who your brother, the president, has been hanging around with. In fact, Sinatra had been an avid supporter of John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election, and they had become quite close.”

The Quiet Approach

“You know, the more that life goes on and everybody’s yapping and hollering, I like his style more and more.”

Shares Vince Gill, in Chris Willman’s June 10, 2009 Nashville Scene cover story on superstar Alan Jackson.

Vince Gill has won 20 Grammy awards – more than any other male Country music artist.

Alan Jackson has sold over 50 million albums in his 20 year career, and will easily go down as one of the most legendary Country music artists in history. And a lot of it has to do with his style.

Alan has taken an extremely different/interesting/peculiar approach to the music industry. The fact is, he doesn’t seem to care much about it. He hasn’t let it dictate his every move. From what I can tell, sitting at home is far more intriguing to him than the red carpet of music’s biggest night.

The quiet approach isn’t a bad thing. It’s something to learn from.

But none of this matters if you aren’t a killer musician, with killer material, when you do take the stage.

Jackson can approach the madness with this style because he is all of these things.

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