Friday, May 18, 2012

"...And I...eee...I Will Always Love...To Love You, Baby..."

Pretty much the same.

And not at all alike.

Clarification coming.

(CNN) -- Donna Summer, the "Queen of Disco" whose hits included "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls," "Love to Love You Baby" and "She Works Hard for the Money," has died, a representative said Thursday. She was 63.

Her publicist, Brian Edwards, said Summer was suffering from cancer. She died surrounded by her family in Florida, he said.

"Early this morning, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith," a family statement said. "While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy. Words truly can't express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time."

Summer first rose to fame the mid-'70s, thanks to "Love to Love You Baby." The song, with Summer's whispered vocals and orgasmic groans helped define the mid-'70s disco trend and hit No. 2 in 1976. Summer followed the song with such hits as "I Feel Love," "Last Dance" and a disco-fied version of the Richard Harris hit "MacArthur Park," which outdid Harris' version by hitting No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart. It was Summer's first of four chart-toppers.

Another name that immediately sprang to mind yesterday in the wake of Summer's passing was, of course, Whitney Houston.

The connection seems, on the surface, to be a no brainer.

Two very successful, critically acclaimed female vocalists whose talents brought them to the top of the charts and gained them the admiration and/or adulation of millions worldwide.

And two very successful, critically acclaimed, etc etc who died young.

Twin sisters of different mothers.

So it would seem.

But a little tender and respectful scrutiny would offer up some indication that six of one is not necessarily half a dozen of another.

Houston's talent was undeniable, but her life was yet another cautionary tale of the potential pitfalls of too much as happens to too many all too often. A descent from the heights of success into a poignant life of fractured family, failed marriage, career struggle and all the assorted collateral damage, fueled, as it is all too often, by the devastating effects of substance abuse. A life that came to a sad, even pathetic, end face down and alone in a half filled bathtub, a victim of a disease too often contracted by the rich and famous.

The kind of life that will end up as two hours on the E! True Hollywood Story.

Summer's talent was equally undeniable. But her life was, by all accounts and as far talk and tabloid would offer us, one of family fulfillment, a long, happy and successful marriage, a career, predictable ups and downs notwithstanding, pursued with graciousness and humility, as far away from the aforementioned talk and tabloids as tape can measure. A life that came to an equally sad, but heart touching, end surrounded by loving family and friends, a victime of a disease too often contracted by every day folks.

The kind of life that will end up as two hours on the Lifetime Channel.

There is no blame that can be rightly placed on one, nor overt accolades to be placed on another.

It seems only fair to suggest that both of these ladies were human beings who, like all the rest of us, did the best they could.

But it also seems worth noting that it would be only to fair to keep something in mind as media does what media does, attempting to ramp up the drama of any given situation to, ostensibly, keep us all tuned in.

Connecting the two.

When, in fact, Donna Summer and Whitney Houston were pretty much the same.

And not at all alike.

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