Strange that this was written by Dolly Parton, because it's always seemed like such a Whitney Houston song, don't you think? That happens sometimes. Neil Diamond wrote "Midnight Train To Georgia" but it's the version by Gladys Knight & The Pips that resonates.
I think Whitney Houston understood the song better than Dolly Parton did. "Bittersweet memories, that is all I'm taking with me." The whole song plays like a bittersweet memory. It feels like a love song at first until you realise how it's something far more complicated. The woman's jaded, the love is gone. All she can do is love something that isn't there anymore. She's serenading a guy who, it seems, isn't even listening.
"If I, should stay, I would only be in your way." Was there ever a sadder and more truthful opening line in the history of music? Whitney's heart seems to break on the opening word "If", and the way her voice swerves and bends on the word "way", it's as if you hear her heart faltering all inside one word.
We can write songs like this off as cheesy, but there's a reason you always hear it on the radio. Same with "Nothing compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor, they ring true. They capture the heart, breaking. Most artists are too scared to spill out their guts, just like people are in life.
Despite the drugs and controversy, people will mourn the loss of Whitney Houston in a big way, and it's largely down to this song. It's the one track of hers that everyone can name.
"We both know I'm not what you need, and I will always love you." Isn't it horrible!? I love you, you don't need me, goodbye. She's that loser who clings on, long after the love died. And we would ridicule her if the song didn't happen to be about every single one of us at one time or another.
RIP WHITNEY HOUSTON