Thursday, August 2, 2012

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Here's a post I originally wrote five years ago. I just watched the clip again and found myself actually laughing out loud several times during the solo—it's that ridiculously great. 

I just stumbled across this clip and...whoa.

Tom Petty sounds really good, and Jeff Lynne, the most successful b-talent perhaps in rock history, also sounds swell. George’s son Dhani—the spit and image of George—looks like he’s never been happier in his entire life. And the guitarist does a beautiful job of recreating Eric Clapton’s original obbligato accompaniment, does he not? He does.

But it's just before the three and a half minute mark that the real guitar solo begins.

If this is not my favorite guitar solo of all time, it is certainly in my Top Ten. I've listened to it dozens of times and I still get goosebumps every damn time.

Because he’s one of the most brilliant singer-songwriters of the past thirty years, a phenomenal singer and an unsurpassed bandleader and performer, Prince sometimes gets overlooked as a guitarist. If this solo doesn’t qualify him as one of the truly all-time greats in rock history, then such things have no meaning.

The word “blistering” is not strong enough. His complete and total mastery of the instrument, the flawless technique, the searing tone, the fluidity of movement, how he plays around the singers, the way he effortless drops littles quotes from Clapton’s original solo into the middle of this maelstrom and then back out, the stunning showmanship…sweet Jesu, this is the very essence of rock and roll guitar. Watching this, you wonder: if he had chosen to focus solely on his guitar playing, it's not inconceivable that he might have been the true heir to Jimi Hendrix, able to build upon and expand upon his groundbreaking explorations.

[Now the real question: what the hell happened to the guitar at the very end?]

A previous version of this was originally posted at Left of the Dial with, it should be noted, some might fine comments. 

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