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Topic: Santana stays high (nsc) Return to archive
October 31st, 2005 03:11 AM
UGot2Rollme .. on life (courtesy

Santana stays high on life

By JANE STEVENSON -- Toronto Sun

Carlos Santana's latest disc features collaborations with Steven Tyler, Mary J. Blige and Joss Stone, among others.
How spiritual is Carlos Santana? We'll let him explain.

"Every day is an opportunity to get into divine mischief, so it's really about discovering all the wonderful sensations and pleasures and experiences that God gave us -- every day.

"It's a beautiful thing to be a human being. With all the craziness on CNN and everything, it's still beautiful to cry and laugh, and to taste, to touch. All those things. We shouldn't take them for granted. They're really, really, super delicious. Even pain sometimes can be a great motivator for a masterpiece."

Time will tell whether Santana's latest album -- All That I Am, which arrives in stores Tuesday -- is such a masterpiece.

Santana has become known as much for his recent collaborations with A-list music stars as for his breakout performance as a latin-flavoured rock guitar virtuoso at Woodstock in 1969. The collaborations continue on his new CD, and they cover a wide range of musical genres.

The Mexican-born Santana performs with Mary J. Blige, OutKast's Big Boi, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, Metallica's Kirk Hammett, Sean Paul, Joss Stone, Black Eyed Peas', Los Lonely Boys, American Idol runnerup Bo Bice, Anthony Hamilton, Michelle Branch and Robert Randolph.

"I'm deeply honoured and grateful that I'm in a place and time where it's not out of the realm of possibilities to play with Mr. Tony Bennett or Justin Timberlake," Santana, 58, told the Sun in the summer while in town for a show at the Molson Amphitheatre.

"That (range) pretty much covers it. I adore working with Buddy Guy or Wayne Shorter or Herbie Hancock. But at the same time it's fun learning how to fit in and --here's the key word -- complement. Because in life, if you're willing, the window gets really big. If you're not willing, the window gets really, really small. So my window's gotten really big."

This self-described "child of the '60s" comes across as a soft-spoken, gentle soul with a strong social conscience, fierce allegiance to family and that deep spirituality. He wears a silver and gold necklace, designed by a Mexican artist, that has an angel affixed to it, inspired by his real-life guardian angel Metatron.

And if what Santana says sometimes comes off as new-age wacky, attribute that to his long interest in spiritual mysticism. The only blemish against Santana recently was when he was sued by his former personal assistant, who claims he was fired because his "consciousness" was calibrated by Santana and determined to be too low.

The son of a mariachi violinist, Santana took up the instrument himself at age 5 before switching to guitar at 8. He played in clubs and bars in Tijuana as a teenager until his family moved to San Francisco, where in 1966 he was one of the founders of the music collective known as the Santana Blues Band. The group's name was shortened to Santana in 1968 when they played at Frisco's famous Fillmore West theatre.

Santana insists his desire to collaborate with other artists dates to 1967. And the music for him then was jazz and blues, not rock.

"I grew up in an era where West Side Story was really big. And you have the Sharks and you have the Jets. But I'm not that anymore. Now, to me, I'm the whole New York City. So I'm able to play with Hebrews and Irish and Italians and Mexicans and whatever. It's not just one side of town."

Santana's contemporary collaborative success began with his major comeback CD in 1999, Supernatural -- which picked up nine Grammys and sold 25 million copies worldwide. That trend continued, albeit less successfully, with 2002's Shaman. Clive Davis was executive producer on both projects, and he returned to help Santana select guest artists on his new album.

The release of All That I Am was delayed twice (first in June, then September) to make room for new guest singers. Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, for example, replaced Puddle Of Mudd's Wes Scantlin on the track Just Feel Better.

"To me, it's really important for people to know that Santana is like an invitation to the world," he said. "Embrace your absoluteness.

"It's not like I'm playing like an alien person from Mars. This is Earth music. It's all people from the same planet. And it's not a gizmo and gadget or schtick, it's not anything like that to work with all these people. For Clive Davis and myself the goal is to create the song, which is like a glass slipper, and then find Cinderella or Cinderfella. It's really like that."

That openness to experiment with his sound might be the key to Santana's enduring success. He's one of the few remaining musicians from San Francisco's explosive late-'60s music scene -- which included Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead -- who's still going strong.

"I'm still 17 inside. I still want to know what the first French kiss feels like, what holding hands feels like, what's it like to experience the voice of the spirit in the Grand Canyon -- all of that. My mind (won't ever) take over and make me feel like, 'Been there, done that.' I don't think like that."

Santana married his wife Deborah in 1973 and has three children with her -- a son and two daughters aged 15 to 22. He says he only tours for three to five weeks at a time, and that's what has kept him grounded over the years. He's a family man first, a musician second.

"(Music) is what I do, but not who I am. This is what really screws up a lot of stars, which I'm not. They don't know when to get off the stage. Then they keep getting more drugs, more this, 'cause it's a high being on stage.

"When I leave it, I leave it. I like being my mother's son, my sister's brother, my wife's husband and my daughter's father. Doing regular things is really glorious, like taking the garbage out or driving them to school and just being a soundboard and listening to what they have to tell me. The most challenging thing is when my daughter says, 'Dad, I want to tell you something but I don't need your opinion. I just need you to listen.' That's when you really step up to the plate, to see if you've really, really evolved."

And, yes, Santana still remembers the early days of his career, including that famous performance at Woodstock, widely considered the standout set of the entire three days. But he prefers to leave it in the past.

"All that stuff is there, but I don't pay it any mind because I want to wake up with the mindset that I'm just starting again. I'm hungry. This is why Clive works with me."

Santana plans to perform at a special event next year in Denver that will feature speakers such as Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama and Nobel Peace Prize winners.

"I say this at the concerts: My body resonates with King Curtis, Curtis Mayfield, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors. Not only does it resonate, I play it on stage. I quote all of them ... But I don't sound like them. And so being a child of the '60s, I don't roll over -- it's not over. And the best is still ahead."

'I like to think I'm a male Tina'

Carlos Santana compares his comeback to that of a certain female soul singer from Tennessee.

"The only person that I equate myself with, which is a deep, supreme honour, is Tina Turner," Santana told the Sun.

"I mean, she's my all time favourite everything -- singer, performer, person, survivor.

"To me, Tina Turner, is like in a whole other place away from Aretha (Franklin), Patti LaBelle, and Whitney (Houston). As much as I have respect for all of them, Tina's a little different, or a lot different. And I admire her immensely, obviously, and I like to think I'm a male Tina in the sense that she's relevant today. If she wanted she could do country and western, she can do opera ... she can do anything that she wants to. And the beautiful thing is that she's got the heart to make you feel what she feels."

October 31st, 2005 03:42 AM
Zack This is the review of the new Santana album on Rolling

From his pop-rock outing with Michelle Branch to the soulful "My Man" with the ever-brilliant Big Boi and Mary J. Blige (not to mention Anthony Hamilton's superb "Twisted"), Santana brings his gorgeous guitar voice to bear on -- and fit in with -- pretty much every pop genre out there. Even the guitar romp "Trinity" wins.

Despite use of the words "superb," gorgeious" and "wins," And yet they gave it no stars. What is up with that?

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