Carlos Santana: The Spirit Still Dances

As he embarks on tour in support of his latest album, the guitar legend offers needed words of healing and spirituality to our readers

Santana Blessings and Miracles 2022 Tour poster

Guitarist Carlos Santana has become such a part of the cultural fabric, he almost needs no introduction.

One of the most successful musicians of all time, he has released more than two dozen studio albums, won multiple Grammy awards and numerous other accolades, and gave one of the most iconic performances at the legendary 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Festival concert. He has released some of the most celebrated songs in rock history, such as “Evil Ways” (1969), “Black Magic Woman” (1970), and “Oye Como Va” (also 1970). In 1999, he returned to the top of the charts with “Smooth” (with Rob Thomas) and “Maria Maria” (with The Product G&B), and also with 2002’s “The Game of Love” (with Michelle Branch). 

It’s been a remarkable career by any measure, and it’s still going strong. During a recent call from Hawaii, Santana tells Rock & Roll Globe that he’s particularly pleased with the way his latest album, Blessings and Miracles, has been so well-received since it was released last October.

Santana Blessings and Miracles, BMG 2021

“I feel very grateful to be able to manifest, create, and give birth to new, fresh sounds – resonant vibrations that help people claim back their own divinity,” he says. “We’ve been lied to for many, many centuries that we’re rigid centers and we’re not worthy of God’s grace and all that, so I’m happy to tell you that we’re living in a time where a lot of people are waking up to the awareness of their own totality, their own divinity.

“This is very good news for me because I’ve been aspiring to do this, even before Woodstock,” he continues. “I always want to invite people to claim back your own inner clarity. When people awake with a yearning for the highest good of all people, that’s when you have become mature. You have become a spiritual adult.”

For his part, Santana says that these beliefs are “something that my heart reached out to” from an early age. He gives his parents credit for this – “I learned what I learned from my mom and my dad” – though he soon found his own path. “After a while, I also learned that I had to stop and not follow DNA ancestral behavior,” he says. “We honor and we respect our parents, but not everything that they believe was necessarily good for you.” And, he adds, “I wanted people to understand that when you were in the womb, you were imbued with heavenly powers to create blessings and miracles.” 

Because of these beliefs, Blessings and Miracles seemed like the perfect title for Santana’s latest album. Even though it is his 26th studio album, he says he had no trouble finding songwriting inspiration: “Most of my life, writing songs is kind of like moving a mirror back and forth until you get the right light,” he says. “You focus on getting out of the way and allowing the spirit to write the song through you.”

He dismisses the question of whether the current COVID pandemic made it harder for him to remain positive and productive. “For me, a dark period is for a person who has the victim mentality,” he says. “If you don’t have the victim mentality, every day is resplendent. Every day is brilliant. I don’t have lack of inspiration. I don’t allow astrology or any kind of ideology, religion, politics, or anything to tell me how should I feel. I feel the way I want to feel, and the way I want to feel is grateful, happy, and ready to change people’s hearts for the better.”

 

 

As one of the most successful musical artists of the last 50 years, Santana clearly understands how to connect strongly with listeners. He arrived at his distinctive Latin-infused rock sound, he says, when he embraced his own uniqueness: “I love everybody from Aretha [Franklin] to all the guitar players, and when I was young, I was trying really hard to sound like them. The more I tried to sound like them, the more I sounded like me. So after a while I gave up trying to sound like people that I loved. I started accepting if I didn’t sound like somebody that I love, it’s because I wasn’t supposed to.” He specifically chose to play the guitar to express himself because, he says, “The sound and the shape of the guitar is very, very nurturing.”

Santana says that even now, more than five decades into his career, he’s still intent on evolving as an artist, instead of resting on his past successes. “I never think back. I don’t think like that,” he says. “I’m always in the moment, trying to give birth to something new and fresh. The unknown, and unpredictability, will always keep you young.”

As he says goodbye, Santana has a final message he wants to impart: “May the heavens open up and the angels bless each and every one with the deep awareness of your own light. That’s what it’s about. Wake up to your own light and your own divinity, and you will have a delicious, delightful life.”

 

VIDEO: The Making Of Blessings and Miracles 

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Katherine Yeske Taylor

Katherine Yeske Taylor began her rock critic career in Atlanta in the late '80s, when she interviewed Georgia musical royalty such as the Indigo Girls, R.E.M. and the Black Crowes while she was still a teenager. Since then, she has done hundreds of interviews with a wide range of artists. She has written for dozens of magazines, including The Big Takeover, Aquarian Weekly, Stomp & Stammer, Creative Loafing, Jam Magazine, Color Red, Boston Rock, and many others. She contributed to two books (several entries for The Trouser Press Guide to the '90s, and a chapter for Rolling Stone's Alt-Rock-A-Rama). Additionally, she has written liner notes and artist bios for several major acts. She currently lives in New York City.  

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