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Carlos Santana’s Big Week

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Edna Gunderson interviews Carlos Santana in USA Today in front of his new album release next week:

    Collaborating, Santana says, requires more courage than solo work, because defenses tend to obscure talent.

    ”The only obstacles to the goodies are male egos and women’s insecurities,” he says. ”You dismantle the ego by saying, ‘I want to deal with your heart, not your penis. I’m not here to arm-wrestle.’ I’m still a child in that way. I wake up, and that child wants to learn and associate. It’s beautiful to hang out with children and old people, because they’re not auditioning. People between 17 and 37 can be difficult because they’re more self-absorbed.

    ….”I like spirituality, not religion or politics,” says Santana, who began meditating in 1972 with his wife of 30 years, Deborah (daughter of the late electric blues guitar pioneer Saunders King). ”Religion turns into ‘My god’s bigger than your god; therefore, you’re a heathen, and you should die, and I’ll take your land and build a temple on top of your flattened house.’ Religion is a corrupt business.

    ”Spirituality is like water and sun. When it rains, the prostitute and the pope get wet just the same. Spirituality is not memorizing the Koran or the Bible while hurting people in the name of Allah or Jesus or Buddha or oil. We are all chosen. Surely we have the capacity to transmute anger and fear into a masterpiece of joy.”

    The faith and philosophy that inform his music are channeled through his longtime guardian angel, Methatron, twin to female Sandalfon. Both figures, found in an- cient religious texts and mythology, have a prominent perch in Santana’s world view.

    ”Methatron is the architect of the electron and the angel inside the womb of every woman,” he says. ”He makes the fingerprints.”

    Santana’s musings may seem fanciful until he points out practical applications. Leaning on angels has nurtured kindness, drained anger and kindled his senses.

    ”It teaches me to surrender,” he says. ”The more I surrender to my wife, the more masculine I am. When my wife and daughters come after me, I love feeling like the shrimp on a Benihana grill.”

    Methatron and company also have dissolved boundaries, be they musical genres or national borders, in his thinking.

    ”I’m an Earth citizen,” Santana says. ”I feel I can relate to kids in Hong Kong as well as Tijuana. Being Mexican is not all I am. I am Hebrew, I am Palestinian, I am everything. I can grasp the concept of absoluteness. I can go to Africa or Cuba or Brazil or Geneva and be part of the family, not just a tourist. I’m not one aisle in Safeway; I’m the whole store.”

    Musically, angelic guidance has rearranged priorities and sharpened his ear. He seeks out sincerity and rawness (”you don’t want to be too sophisticated”) and confesses to only one artistic allergy.

    ”Synthetic music,” he sniffs. ”Phony plastic lounge music. It’s like dancing with a mannequin in Macy’s window.”

    He doesn’t dream in gold or platinum. He describes his fantasies as ”concrete” — that is, attainable — including a desire to organize a humanitarian trip to Africa with two 747s carrying musical icons, AIDS drugs, tools and spiritual books.

    He’s less worried about a decline of technical skill or creative fertility than an erosion of innocence.

    ”There’s nothing more powerful than innocence,” he says. ”If you get stale or bored, remember what it was like the first time you held hands with someone who changed your molecular structure. You get the willies. Well, if I’m not getting the willies, I’ll put the guitar down.”

The new Santana album is Shaman, and yes, Carlos is a bit eccentric. I am a bit skeptical about the whole “collaboration” process: I have to admit that other than “Smooth,” I didn’t much like Supernatural; but I am happy for the success and recognition it brought to weird old Carlos, whose guitar truly does still sound “innocent.”

Coincidentally (or not), and of greater interest to me, Legacy is releasing a two-CD collection of Santana’s Columbia work from the late-60’s through the 80’s next week also, The Essential Santana.

The first disc covers the band’s outrageously great 70’s blend of authentic Latin jazz polyrhythms, unpretentious melodies and (often group) vocals (the later influx of skilled lead singers de-emphasized the group’s real strengths), and the stunning lead guitar work of both Santana and the teen-age Neal Schon (especially from the great Santana lll album, well-represented here with four songs).

Though disc 2 wanders off into the 80’s pop period, my only real complaint with the tremendous collection is the inclusion of only one track (“Europa”) from the brilliant Amigos (though a live version of “Dance Sister Dance” from the California Jam album is included), perhaps Santana’s most tuneful and joyous album.

With The Essential, Santana has finally been done right. Next week Shaman will get all the attention, but The Essential is the release for the ages.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • Miguel Lopez

    Carlos Santana is a great inspiration and he truly rocks!!!!!!




    Carlos Santana plays that same woo-hoo on every song! It sounds like Carlos Santana is choking on his own penis!!!

  • [audi0bliss]

    I applaud all Artists who give so much of thier lives fearlessly and selflessly giving the most personal, intimate feelings and ideas to a the world! What a beautiful gift. I’m very sorry for those that are so filled with the sickness of envy and jeolousy. That every attempt to cut down and dismantle some one like this “especially from the cowardly confines of thier mothers basement” in an attempt to feel better about themselvs. It is very saddening to me. Artists are usually very sensitive and have a tendancy to take very personally what is said in regaurd to thier “lifes works” But expecting understanding from one of such obvious ignorance would be foolish. Carlos, THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOU WITH ME! I HAVE FOND MEMORIES AS A CHILD OF LISTENING TO YOUR RECORDS WITH MY FATHER “AIR SOLOING” FROM THE “STAGE” ON THE COUCH IN OUR LIVING ROOM!!!!! LIGHT AND LOVE TO ALL….ESPECIALLY THOSE IN THE DARK. 😉

  • Serenadesea

    I don’t know why anyone who doesn’t like Carlos Santana would be reading an article about him, in the first place. It’s too bad they are so immature so as to pollute his sacred place, here, like pigeon poop all over a beautiful courtyard.

    I am just starting to get into Carlos. When I was little, I did not like the cover to his ABRAXIS lp. It looked evil. But as I grew older, I saw, through my father’s burgeoning record collection, that Carlos worked with John McLaughlin on A LOVE SUPREME, and appeared to become very spiritual.

    I’m learning how to play Samba Pa Ti, and as a result, am watching a lot of his youtube videos. I’ve come to see that his spirituality is not feigned or shallow. I really admire and respect him. And in fact, this article clarified it for me very well. Indeed, a shrimp on a grill for his wife and daughters–That willingness to become vulnerable IS innocence!

    He has a song about being surrounded by angels, called Spirits Dancing in the Flesh. I am into angels, too. It really does make you feel and act better, by acknolwledging their presence. If you don’t acknowledge them, they can’t be a part of your conscious life, and life’s trials, day to day, can make you feel tired. When angels are a part of your concsious life, you feel your own sacredness.

  • Enrique Rivera

    Does this means that Carlos Santana, my lifelong idol, is Gay? as in gay, I like guys, gay? I need theraphy!

  • Kyle

    I personally don’t really like Santana, I mean he has done some fantastic stuff, but he has also has this nasty habit of getting his dirty little mittens on songs that should never have even seen his guitar work. Songs that I like. Liked. Pre-tense is absolutely necessary right now.
    That aside, he did open up a new era for guitar, so its not all bad, I just wish he would leave my favourite songs alone.