Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

The Wife and I have discussed Prince on several occasions. "Genius" is a term grossly over-used, but I don't think anything other than "musical genius" does justice to Prince's immeasurable talent. Had he lived in the 1700s or 1800s, he'd be known today as a composer comparable to the likes of Mozart. The 20th century figure I'd compare him to most would be Duke Ellington. Prince was always pushing musical boundaries, fusing different styles and flexing his creative muscles in weird and original ways. Funk, jazz, pop, rock, R&B, soul, classical... just about the only genre he didn't regularly utilize was country, and I'm not 100 percent sure on that one. Was he a flake? Erratic? Eccentric? An egomaniac? Sure. It's hard to tell where the performance ended and the real man began. He produced brilliant work, and he produced a lot of crap. That's the thing--he failed musically many, many times, but he never stopped. He constantly tried new things, and many efforts fell flat but those that worked were hailed as visionary. He was so prolific that he got into a huge blow-up with his record label, Warners, because they only wanted to release one album a year and Prince wanted to do something like three a year. Nuts. It's rumored that Prince has more than a thousand unreleased songs in his Paisley Park vault--not outtakes or demos or rejects or alternative mixes, but actual finished, polished, fully-produced songs just waiting to be released whenever the Purple One deemed it time to do so. The only other artist who left a comparable legacy is (as far as I know) Frank Zappa, who left behind enough material for a dozen or more albums at the time of his death, the last of which was finally released just a couple years ago. I expect we'll be getting new Prince material for decades to come.

In 1988, I managed to get ahold of a bootleg copy of Prince's legendary Black Album, which was pulled from distribution right at the point of release because of a weird dream he had. That tape was a prized possession for years, until a friend's tape player chewed it up in early 1994. To say I was upset was an understatement. It was a damn cool album. I mean, any album that starts off with "Le Grind" can't go wrong. Fortunately, an official version of that album actually made it to market later that year, so I was able to replace the lost take with a more durable CD. That doesn't mean much, other than the fact that for a few years I was the cool guy who had a mythical album nobody else could get--at least as far as Prince fans were concerned.

Alas, Prince has fiercely fought to keep his music and videos offline, almost as hard as he's fought to keep Weird Al from parodying any of his songs. Therefore there are no official Prince videos to feature on Friday Night Videos. The only one I can find is "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" from the George Harrison tribute at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2004, featuring Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Tom Petty and a bunch of other folks. Prince upstages them all with a blistering solo that reminded everyone that no matter how great a performer, singer and songwriter he may be, he was still a much better guitarist than almost anyone gave him credit for.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show.

Now Playing: Prince The Hits/The B Sides
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