Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Immortals #90 - Carlos Santana

Santana is lot like Jimi Hendrix, if Hendrix had only been about as nonthreatening as a plate of refried beans.

Was that racist?

In 1999, Santana released the mega-selling collaborations album Supernatural, featuring such enduring creative powerhouses as Rob Thomas (he was in Matchbox 20!), Eagle-Eye Cherry (his name is all nouns!), and Everlast (he wrote "Jump Around!") This made him the most popular middle-aged Mexican in the world, a title he held until the rise of George Lopez. Maybe Supernatural was the record I should have studied for this series. It was probably the most representative document from his entire career of everything Santana's music really is: comfortably re-tread classic rock, uninspired-but-pleasant virtuoso leads, and tasteful cameo-whoring, all dressed up with a "muy caliente" Latin flair that'll have you running for the border.

I might have read that last thing from a packet of Taco Bell hot sauce.

Supernatural is exactly the kind of record you want to make when you're old and boring and waiting for some lifetime achievement recognition, and a fitting tribute to a man who personified the phrase "popular recording artist." But I didn't pick Supernatural for this entry, opting instead for Santana's sacred and time-tested "best" record, Abraxis. And you know what? It's lame.

It's telling that Santana's enduring classic only contains two original compositions. He doesn't really have much of an original voice or point of view beyond wanting to play electric guitar over traditional Latin inspired standards. I suppose it's nice that in his way, Santana's popularization of more diverse instrumentation in rock informed some of the better diversions into world music in later decades. And hey, a pre-Bonnaroo culture of blacklight poster enthusiasts needed something to listen to until Phish came around, right?

I can see why this sold a ton of records. Despite its illusion of exoticism, it's blandly palatable to seemingly any audience. And while it's non-challenging, it's also not an entirely unpleasant score for any number of background music needs. But I can't just sit down and actually listen to the whole record today without it really just making me want to listen Jimi, or Fleetwood Mac, or Tito Puente or Can instead. Or maybe eat some chips and salsa.

Mmmmm... chips and salsa.


Anonymous said...


オテモヤン said...


Anonymous said...

TAHNKS FOR YOUR SHARING~~~VERY NICE ........................................

wyoganggreen said...

I could use some taco bell hot sauce sir!

Kristen Owen :0)

Brendan K said...

Hey, I see what ya did 'dere.

To this date, I still haven't done that character for anybody but you two. Consider it a gift from me to you.