Q&A: Carlos Santana
Guitar hero Carlos Santana's shows are not so much a celebration of his 40 years in the business as they are recognitions of the love and inspiration that he feels.
"It's just a celebration of being alive -- and once you know with a certain clarity and you own it that you're only made out of two things, which is light and love, the celebration is every day," Santana said during an interview with SoundSpike. "It's not for achievements or surviving this or transcending that. For example, for me right now ... I'm in love. When you're in love, if you ever saw that movie 'West Side Story,' when Maria and Tony meet for the first time in the gym, everything else ... that one. It feels good to be on tour and be with that essence of lighthearted."
Santana's "Universal Tone Tour," with special guest Steve Winwood, visits amphitheaters and arenas throughout the summer. The two are longtime friends and Santana hopes to collaborate with the former Traffic frontman during the shows.
"I have seen him since, let's see, 1970 when he was in Traffic," Santana said. "I went to see him in London. We crossed paths off and on. We only did one song. In 2005, we did 'Why Can't We Live Together?' the Timmy Thomas song. This is like a full-on embrace."
Santana spoke to SoundSpike about his forthcoming album, tentatively titled "Guitar Heaven," as well as his love of Marvin Gaye.
Are you excited about your tour with Steve Winwood? Where are you looking forward to playing?
I'm looking forward to playing Detroit, where hopefully we'll do one or two or three Marvin Gaye songs. He's my favorite singer ever. I'm trying to get Stevie Winwood to sing "Inner City Blues," "I Want You," any of the songs by Marvin Gaye. Hopefully, we can go there and play that. I don't want to play Stevie Winwood music or Santana music. I want to play Marvin Gaye or Bob Marley.
Tell me about your new studio album. It sounds like a pretty exciting project.
I'm very, very grateful because I get to participate in something that is very [wonderful]. For example, "Supernatural" was a really, really humungous door for me to walk through. This is another one; I can see it already. The name of the CD is probably going to be called "Guitar Heaven." The songs are from Jimi Hendrix, "Little Wing"; "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," The Beatles; "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," The Rolling Stones; "Sunshine of Your Love," Cream; "Back in Black," AC/DC; "Dance the Night Away," Van Halen; "Whole Lotta Love" (Led Zeppelin); "Smoke on the Water" (Deep Purple); "Riders on the Storm" (The Doors); "Fortunate Son" (Creedence Clearwater Revival).
The [guests] are Joe Cocker, India.Arie, Yo-Yo Ma, Scott Weiland, Rob Thomas, Pat Monahan, Chris Cornell, Jacoby Shaddix, Chester Bennington, Scott Stapp. All of my life, since I can remember, everything that I do is coming in with everyone. I don't come in alone. So this is not like a shtick or a gimmick or something that I do with guest artists. I've been doing this since '67 with everyone. It feels wonderful to walk into a room and you feel the love. With Joe Cocker or India.Arie or Rob Thomas, there's a mutual exchange of love, so by the time we get to the song, it's very natural, normal.
How do you choose who sings on each song?
I choose some and some choose me, and Clive [Davis, record executive] chooses some. God chooses everyone, I think. For example, I have a good habit of dreaming while I'm awake. I dream of doing something with India.Arie and Yo-Yo Ma. Here comes the song, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."
How did you come up with the idea for your next album?
I cannot take the credit. This was Clive Davis' idea.
How did you feel when he brought this idea to you?
I was scared. Each one of the songs is a Mona Lisa. Mona Lisa is perfection. What are you going to add to it? There's a child in me that has a lot of purity and innocence. He was able to convince me that I have the capacity to make the songs completely new, yet totally familiar. Please don't take this the wrong way: I dated 12 Mona Lisas and all found out that they all fell in love with me.
What's your favorite track on the album?
They're all really special. I love the energy, just the vibrancy, that 17-year-old energy when you go to the back of the car for the first time. It's lover's lane and that stuff. That was on "Back in Black" [with rapper Nas]. The other one was that moment when you're with the right person and right before you have a kiss, there's hesitation and you don't kiss or hug, but you're coming in closer really slowly. That one was "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." The masterpiece of this one is definitely "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" because of the dimension of Yo-Yo Ma and India.Arie in the song itself. The lyrics "With every mistake we must surely be learning." The lyrics by George Harrison, they're so transcendently profound that it speaks on a level beyond lovers. It speaks on a level of human consciousness ... Everything we're learning from: wars -- Vietnam and Iraq; or tsunamis -- Katrina -- the way he wrote lyrics on a different level than just, "Hey baby,be my baby." So that one, and also "Little Wing" with Joe Cocker. As round as I am with music, I think the best of me comes out with ballads and slow songs. I think I'm a lover. [Laughs]
Who would you like to work with that you haven't yet?
Andrea Bocelli, Sting, Prince, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight. If Gladys Knight was in the room and she started singing "If I Were Your Woman," that would be it. The way she sings "If I were your woman and you were my man," ... there's a lot of war happening right now, mainly in the United States, not so much in the rest of the world. With females and men, a lot of females seem like they have war paint on their face -- rightly so. Men are really stupid and they do really brutal, hurtful things. But if you hear a song like "If I Were Your Woman," there's something really beautiful about the glory of a female accepting the divinity of a man. When you put aside all that protection, defending and attacking and you become vulnerable, that's when it really, really becomes powerful.
30 - St. Paul, MN - Xcel Energy Center
1 - Milwaukee, WI - Marcus Amphitheater
3 - Sioux City, IA - Grandview Bandshell
4 - Kansas City, MO - Starlight Theatre
6 - Cincinnati, OH - Riverbend Music Center
7 - Noblesville, IN - Verizon Wireless Music Center
9 - Tinley Park, IL - First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
10 - Clarkston, MI - DTE Energy Music Theatre
11 - Toronto, Ontario - Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
14 - Ottawa, Ontario - Lebreton Flats Park
15 - Montreal, Quebec - Bell Centre
17 - Bethel, NY - Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
18 - Wantagh, NY - Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
20 - Holmdel, NJ - PNC Bank Arts Center
21 - Uncasville, CT - Mohegan Sun Arena
23 - Mansfield, MA - Comcast Center
25 - Bristow, VA - Jiffy Lube Live
27 - Virginia Beach, VA - Virginia Beach Amphitheater
28 - Charlotte, NC - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
29 - Atlanta, GA - Chastain Park Amphitheatre
31 - Tampa, FL - 1-800-Ask Gary Amphitheatre
1 - West Palm Beach, FL - Cruzan Amphitheatre
25, 27, 28, 29 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel/Casino
1, 3, 4, 5 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel/Casino