Joe Levy over at The Hollywood Reporter makes a persuasive case for “I Will Always Love You” as Whitney Houston’s greatest hit.
As with so much pop music, it’s an enactment of American potential, an expression of an ideal of unity that is usually nothing more than that: an ideal. Except for the time it takes to listen to one song or to dance to another. Then it’s an ideal in action. Not for nothing was the other song consistently mentioned in the hours after Whitney’s passing her recording of “The Star-Spangled Banner” from the 1991 Super Bowl, an African-American reclamation of the national anthem less audacious than Jimi Hendrix’s or Marvin Gaye’s but no less powerful.
I am inclined to agree. When the song came out in November 1992, I knew nothing of the movie “The Bodyguard” but that voice was impossible to ignore. My entire family gathered around the television when the music video aired and drank in the performance. My family that did not eat dinner around the table or have family reunions would seemingly in spontaneous fashion gravitate to the living room whenever that song came on. She and her music were that beautiful and wonderful. That will be my enduring memory of her.