Monday, April 25, 2016

Sometimes It Snows In April

This may be a somewhat heretical statement, but Prince, whom we lost this week, in what is turning out to be a train-wreck of a year, was not my Bowie. I have made several attempts, starting in the late eighties, to absorb the work that lies beyond the hits, but each time I have found myself starting to gaze absentmindedly out the window. I kept telling myself I would come back to it. I still can, but it's not quite the same when the artist (or in this case, "The Artist ...") is no longer with us.

Thus, and this is highly unusual for me, my favourite Prince album is the fairly ubiquitous "The Very Best Of Prince". As greatest-hits albums go, it is a humdinger. Because, let's face it, when Prince was good, he was very, very, very, very, very good. The best, perhaps, that ever there was. Think "Raspberry Beret". Think "Kiss". More recently, at a time when I think you had to be quite tenacious to continue to give Prince your everlasting support, think "Black Sweat" (you can imagine him just tossing that one off in an idle moment, like Picasso whipping up some sketch on a restaurant napkin and making a better sketch than anyone else would ever be able to do no matter how hard they tried).

What I have found very interesting, over the past few days, is the strength of the emotional outpouring from America. Was Prince America's Bowie? I didn't see that coming. Heck, even the New Yorker has a Prince-themed cover this week. (I didn't see that coming, either.) I don't know. It's just a thought. (There are clear similarities between Prince and Bowie. You don't need me to list them. Suffice to say, they both, numerous times, pushed the listening public in directions the listening public wouldn't otherwise have gone in, and in so doing pushed music into new places; places that music didn't know it needed to go and wouldn't necessarily otherwise have gone.)

Another thing Prince could do better than just about anybody was play the guitar. The following video has been doing the rounds quite a bit this week, and with good reason. If you are going to show off (because, in a sense, this is what Prince is doing here), you had better be good if you choose to do it in a room full of seriously good musicians while they are tackling one of The Beatles' finest moments. Keep your eye on the little guy with the red hat.