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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, April 25, 2016 08:01 am

I admire good guitar players a lot, I think more than any other musicians. It must have started when I first heard Jimi Hendrix while I was in the Army and was just blown away by the sounds I heard. Nobody had ever played a guitar quite like that. So Hendrix has always been the guitar god to me. But I have also worshiped many lesser deities from all sorts of musical genres: Andres Segovia, Chet Atkins, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, the list goes on. But somehow I missed Prince. I don't know if it was because I was in one of my "done with pop culture" phases (I've had several) or because I considered Prince's flamboyance a compensation for a lack of talent or whatever, but I just never paid any particular attention to his music. So I completely missed the fact that he was an an amazing guitar player. "Defying description" is the way ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons describes it.

The two of then had a remarkable (to me at least) two-hour conversation about the art and craft of guitar playing. At one point in an interview about the conversation, Gibbons describes how he has struggled to emulate the guitar introduction to "When Doves Cry."

I continually come back to attempting to piece together each and every one of those segments. And it’s very short. It’s not an extended solo by any means. But the way it is delivered. There’s certainly no way to write it. You’ve just got to dive in and feel it to see if you could come close.

If a guitar player as talented as Gibbons has trouble even figuring out a short piece by Prince, that quite says something, doesn't it? I've spent a good portion of the weekend listening to Prince, and I wouldn't even try to decipher how he does things. It's just a marvel to behold.

The music videos I've linked to also come from The Washington Post interview. They're both of Prince playing other people's material, so watching them is a good way to appreciate his playing technique and what Gibbons calls "the urgency behind his dedication to playing." The first is him playing The Stones' hit "Honky Tonk Woman." The second shows him with a bunch of other noted guitar players (like Tom Petty, Steve Winwood and Jeff Lynne) doing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." for the first several minutes, Prince just sort of lays back and plays rhythm while the rest of them kick out. Then at the end, he steps up and just absolutely destroys it.

Jimi Hendrix's death has always seemed like a particular tragedy to me. What music he could have created if he hadn't died so young! Now, I think he might have grown up to be someone very much like Prince.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says he issued an executive order to extend voting rights to felons in part to "let them feel good about themselves again." Yes, heaven forbid felons feel bad about themselves.

Correcting grammar, says angry Brit Mona Chalabi, is racist, classist and censorious. Ah, surely you is kidding me.

Trump team to GOP: Don't worry, Donald is not really an obnoxious blowhard. He's just "projecting an image." The Reality Show primary rolls along.

The pope to young people: Happiness is not an app you can download. Probably can't download faith, either, but he does have 2.3 million followers on Instagram.

Schools are abandoning literature for a greater emphasis on autobiographies and other non-fiction, which is a shame:

If schools back off from literature, they back off from philosophy; they remove the opportunity for students to be lit up (as Denby titled his book) by the ideas of life. "If you don’t read books, and if you don’t get consumed by the physical and moral life of men and women in fiction and history, too many facets of yourself may never come into being," Denby writes. "That kind of reading is a special good."

Great literature "teaches us how to better lives," and those are lessons "we carry with us long after we've left school."

"Non-binary" student to President Obama: I literally have no rights. Since rights inhere in the individual regardless of race, religion, gender, or any other single component of the individual, this poor soul doesn't know what it is talking about.

If everybody would just remember one simple thing about free trade, the world economy would be in much better shape: Trade is between companies, not countries, so trade agreements running hundreds or even thousands of pages long have not a thing to do with "free" trade.

The federal government's pushes to hire more veterans is causing confusion and resentment. This is the same turmoil that surrounds affirmative action of any kind. There is always the worry (or the claim) that a less-qualified veteran will be hired over a more-qualified non-veteran. 

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