Feel My Big Guitar: Prince and the Sound He Helped Create

Univ. Pr. of Mississippi. Jul. 2023. 224p. ed. by Judson L. Jeffries & others. ISBN 9781496845269. pap. $25. MUSIC
The sudden passing of musical icon Prince in April 2016 at the age of 57 was a hard blow for music fans. Yet thanks to his enormous catalog, even longtime fans continue to discover awe-inspiring songs and performances that invite careful study and analysis. This book’s editors—Jeffries (African American and African studies, Ohio State Univ.; Huey P. Newton: The Radical Theorist); Shannon M. Cochran (African American studies and women’s and gender studies, Clayton State Univ.); and Molly Reinhoudt (managing editor, Research in African Literatures and Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men)—collected 10 essays from academics, musicologists, critics, and musicians who all share a fascination with Prince. They explore Prince’s complex music by evaluating the genres he utilized, his musical ability and influences, and the cultural and social commentaries contained in his lyrics. Highlights include essays by H. Zahra Caldwell, who compares Prince to Rick James, and by Ignatius Calabria, who looks at Prince’s guitar talent to gauge where he fits among the all-time greats, notably Jimi Hendrix. None of the essays are particularly lengthy, making this book an easy read.
VERDICT Prince fans and others interested in popular music will find much to love and ponder in this engaging collection.
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