Tuesday, February 14, 2012

One song: 'I Will Always Love You.'

Tonight, at a very late hour, just before we took Bruiser for his final constitutional of the day, the Historian called me in--A Room With a View was on. Oh, how I loved that movie when I first saw it, and then oh, how I loved the book. I walked in while Simon Callow was remarking that the Emersons had taken the cottage slash villa down the road a bit, and darling Helena Bonham Carter was fuming that she had spent so much time cultivating the Miss Allens, to no avail.

I said, "Look at him!" about Simon Callow, who was--believe it--so very young in this film. And then, "And Julian Sands--he was so beautiful in this movie!" He was indeed so beautiful--in the very next scene, with the (also so young, so lovely) Daniel Day Lewis as the effete and poncey Cecil. Such a rapture, to see them all in the flush of their youth, or at least of their younger years. We took Bruiser out and upon our return, resumed the film--our admiration of this forgotten and rediscovered beauty which inheres in youth and which always surprises me.

Earlier, I was watching Glee, a Valentine's Day episode. The Glee-sters were charged to find the best love songs, whilst love-drama swirled all about. When Mercedes began to sing her envoi to Sam, I thought from the very first piano chord, "It's going to be 'I Will Always Love You'," and then, when it was, I thought, "and it will be the Whitney Houston version," as it turned out to be.

Now, when that Whitney Houston version first came out, on the soundtrack of The Bodyguard, I loathed it (and secretly admired it, too, as is so often the way). I first came upon the song in my own youth, in the seventies, when Linda Ronstadt covered it:

Because those were the days when we all read liner notes on the back of LPs, I knew that the song was originally written by Dolly Parton, though it was probably years before I ever heard that version:

I always found the Whitney Houston version to be excessive, florid, self-regarding, too in love with the capacities of the voice to do justice to the modesty and perfection of the song:

But tonight, when I heard this young woman, Amber Riley, with her gorgeous, beautiful voice, sing the song just as--practically phrase for phrase--Whitney Houston had sung it, I heard it afresh, an homage to the greatness of the singer now just gone, who was herself so young, so beautiful, when she first sang it:


  1. i honestly thought it was so stunning. amber riley has a beautiful voice but this version of this beautiful song was just stunning.

  2. I do that when I watch old movies. There's Kirk Douglas, or there's Blythe Danner, or Paul Newman. There they are in their salad days, "the flush of their youth." Do they realize it, do they feel their physical prowess and beauty, and are they aware of how little time they get to spend on top of the mountain? And then, of course, I see Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond, and it's almost heartbreaking to hear flashes of Tom Joad in the cadence of his voice.

  3. I cried when I heard Amber Riley sing on Glee last night. Amazing!

    Amen to everything radagast said! I am overwhelmed with a desire to go out and find copies of Room With a View, Remains of the Day and On Golden Pond.

  4. Great analysis. Amber Riley. redeemed that song for me. And oh, how I love Linda Rondstadt and Dolly Parton. Beautiful tribute. Thank you.
    And a second Amen to Radagast's comment.



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