I can’t remember who bought it for me, maybe it was my mom — I have memories of her dancing around our first house, belting out the lyrics to “Cecilia” by Simon & Garfunkel, as it played on our record player. Looking back, I did the same thing with this record. I played “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” over and over again, dancing around the house, making up my own moves, sliding across the shiny wooden floors in my socks.
I don’t know where this 7″ is now, I think it’s in my parent’s garage. But that cover is very well-worn, from much putting-record-in-and-out action. I remember showing it to my gramma when I first got it. She looked at it kind of skeptically, and said something like, “Why do we have to see her underwear?” Of course, we can’t see her underwear, but it was kind of racy cover art for an 8-year-old to have at the time maybe, at least in my mind. I think that’s why I liked it. Whitney Houston was sexy and confident. How a woman who was so talented and beautiful somehow felt so void of love is sad, and that she stuck it out in an abusive relationship, fell into drugs as a crutch.
While Whitney apparently didn’t write this song (that was George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam of Boy Meets Girl), I wonder how much input she had on it. It seems to sum up the emptiness that cloaked her life. As an adult looking back on this portrait and the real lyrics of this single (all I heard as a kid was “I wanna dance with somebody”) — the vibe of the two just don’t match up. A portrait of a sexy and confident woman, who’s ready to take on the world, and a song about the blues and fighting the depths of loneliness. This single was released in 1987, supposedly two years before she met Bobby Brown, who many say dragged her to further depths from which she never quite recovered.
Clock strikes upon the hour/ And the sun begins to fade/ Still enough time to figure out/ How to chase my blues away
I’ve done alright up to now/ It’s the light of day that shows me how/ And when the night falls, loneliness calls
Oh, wanna dance with somebody/ I wanna feel the heat with somebody/ Yeah I wanna dance with somebody/ With somebody who loves me
I’ve been in love and lost my senses/ Spinning through the town/ Sooner or later the fever ends/ And I wind up feeling down/ I need a man who’ll take a chance/ On a love that burns hot enough to last/ So when the night falls/ My lonely heart calls.
The night ending up taking her. RIP Whitney. I’m sorry you felt so down, you didn’t deserve to feel like that, no one does. Thanks for the dance memories and inspiration. Here’s a link to some of the tributes to Whitney at the Grammys last night. And here’s the site for the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE).
P.S. I love this performance of Whitney singing “The National Anthem,” such a confident energy, I wish the energy here would have carried her through.