Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

Solo, Duo

All the talk about Prince's halftime show performance at the Super Bowl yesterday has me revisiting his back catalog, which is something I try to do at least once a year. My friend Steven reminded me of his contribution to a tribute to George Harrison a few years back, in which he turned an ensemble performance of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" into an extended solo in every sense. Although Prince seems a little disconnected from his fellow players, he makes Harrison's son break into a big smile, which surely matters more than whether he upstages the Traveling Wilburys:
The first time Steven directed me to this clip, I had the distinct impression that Prince was the Barry Bonds of popular music. Bonds has more haters, surely. But the diffidence with which they interact with their colleagues and the self-absorbed virtuosity that stamps their performances makes them seem strikingly similar.

Of course, we aren't supposed to think about professional sports and popular music together. The former is held to a standard of purity that, were it applied to the culture industry, would have resulted in most of the last century's greatest musicians receiving a lifetime ban. The most interesting thing about the Super Bowl these days is that it demonstrates how arbitrary the line between sports and entertainment really is. People watch for the spectacle more than the game. What that gets me thinking, however, to follow through on my earlier analogy, is that we might do well to stop and consider the difference between a Barry Bonds home run from the early 2000s and a Prince guitar solo.
Tags: music, sports
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