A Thought on Prince

594PRINCE COMPLETELY ECLIPSED everyone who tried to do the things he did. He even traveled back in time to outdo his forebears. (These feats may have been enabled by the fact that he was a god, a point I will come to in a moment.) To get straight to his eminence, though, Prince out-funked Sly Stone. He out-strutted Mick Jagger. He out-freaked Rick James, and he may have out-worked James Brown, perhaps one of the reasons we are mourning him so soon. In addition to his flash, Prince also wrote deeply affecting poetic songs about love, regret, and longing. I, for one, am inclined to believe Sinead O’Connor was telling the truth when she said the tear she cried at the end of the video for “Nothing Compares 2 U” was real.
28princeguitar-master768I am not qualified to comment on all of Prince’s talents, but I feel I can pay proper homage to him at the altar of guitar playing. Anyone who has ever tried to play a guitar must watch and listen to his inhuman performance at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, when he joined Tom Petty and some other classic rockers for a rendition of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” A tuneful but mopey song in its original version, “My Guitar” utterly transforms when Prince joins the band after the third chorus and erupts into a three-minute long guitar solo that achieves exit velocity sometime around minute one and then proceeds to changes guitar history. At the end of it, the only thing a mortal guitarist can do is stand at the edge of the blast radius of What Just Happened, vacant, unmanned and stupefied, wondering if anyone will ever dare pick up a guitar again. In that moment one could credibly fear that Prometheus stole more than fire from the gods, that he took their terrible divinity itself, that it might loose itself on the world from time to time. Indeed Socrates thought the divine lightof the gods sometimes shown forth from mortals. You may have another explanation for Prince’s perfection that day, but I will never believe it.


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