This recent missive to Clive Davis, major label majordomo and Svengali to the Adult Contemporary set, discusses Uncle Donnie’s ideas for a post-comeback Whitney Houston comeback. Whether Clive or Whitney do anything with his advice is another matter entirely.
This is the last Uncle Donnie memo to be posted in 2009. On behalf of Lev and his uncle, I wish you a happy holiday. See you next year. – RS
TO: Clive Davis
FROM: Don Skwatzenschitz
RE: Career Advice for Whitney
Shalom! And a great big Gut Yontiff to you and yours! I hope it’s been a great year for you, what with Kelly coming back into the fold (is she putting on weight for a role? Did some studio finally option the script I did for From Justin to Kelly II: Alexa’s Revenge? I’ll have to check). Getting Whitney out there was a feat of pure chutzpa, as well, though her televised performances left something to—well, let’s just say they had me wishing I could see Bobby Brown scoop poo out of her toochis.
But what can you do, Clive? What can you do? You tried everything—you marketed it perfectly, you got her in the studio with passable songs and half-decent production. There were poppy/dancy tracks and big, melisma-showcasing ballads. She used to knock that stuff out of the park. Maybe she just doesn’t have it anymore. I know, I know—it’s hard to believe, much less have to face yourself, that your little doll, your female side personified for the last 25 years, has turned into a whacked-out, coked-out has-been who can’t hit the high notes anymore. It’s tough to write that, my friend. I imagine it’s even tougher to live it.
I do, however, have an idea that will help you set Whitney up for the foreseeable future—another Christmas album! One Wish was good, but very traditional. Too traditional, if you ask me (and I know you didn’t, but trust me—no one needs another “Christmas Song” or “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”). What you need are unexpected gems that she can cover, Whitnify, if you will. Things that no one in a million years would expect her to even know about, much less record. I happen to have quite the collection of Christmas songs (I know, what’s a good Jewish boy like Albert Skwatzenschitz’s son doing with a Christmas song collection? It so happens my family celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas. We were more confused than observant). Here are five tracks you simply must have her record:
- “It Never Snows in L.A.” In rock and roll, the road can be a fickle mistress (not that I would know what a fickle mistress was like—Mitzi is fickle enough for ten men to deal with). Once, I was compelled to spend the winter in Hollywood, working the second Ratt album to country stations (don’t ask), and I recalled this wonderful ditty by the young but worldly Jimmy Osmond. Whitney’s world-weariness would lend some gravitas to this otherwise poppy tune.
- “My Christmas Card to You.” Why record “Joy to the World,” when she could put pure joy to tape (or hard drive, or whatever) with this classic, originally recorded by a family of Partridges?
- “Listen, the Snow Is Falling.” Yoko Ono—so underrated. Imagine Whitney wrapping her voice around this one. I even have a bit of orchestration in my head that might work. I’ll hum it into a USB mic and send you an MP3.
- “Jolly Man.” Kanye did that Autotune record, and it was a huge hit, right? Well, this Zach Curd track would be a great way for Whitney to get into some of that Autotune action. And you wouldn’t have to worry about the high notes, either.
- “Snoopy’s Christmas.” Totally left field, I know, but it falls in the great tradition of story-songs, and Whitney could use a story other than her own to discuss next time she does Oprah.
Consider these, and I’ll give you a call after the new year. Be well, my friend.
All the best,