Carlos Santana turns 70

Santana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998

When Carlos Santana turned 60, I wrote a piece in my now long-abandoned Underplayed Vinyl series, albums I owned as LPs, which I used to play constantly, but because I didn’t have an easily accessible record player, they didn’t get much action.

The album in question that I posted about, 10 years ago to the day, was Abraxas, Santana, the group’s, second collection. “In 2003 [it] was ranked number 207 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time… Abraxas was deemed ‘culturally, historically, or artistically significant’ by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in their National Recording Registry in 2016.”

Like most of America, I discovered Santana at Woodstock. No, I didn’t go to the festival, but I saw the 1970 movie twice, in a row. Soul Sacrifice, complete with occasional feedback, was revelatory.

Carlos Santana and the various iterations of the group that bear his surname waxed and waned in popularity. For instance, the group was on recording hiatus for seven years in the 1990s.

In 1999, they released Supernatural, which debuted at number 19 on the Billboard 200, and 18 weeks later, topped the US charts. I bought it, of course, but I agree with some of the critics that found that the plethora of guest stars means there’s lacking a “consistent voice that holds the album together.” Yet it had good, and commercially successful, songs.

I’ve recently picked up Santana IV, the return of the core band from the first three albums.

The group Santana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

LISTEN, in roughly chronological order; numbers represent the Billboard pop chart action.

Jingo, a/k/a Jin-Go-Lo-Ba, #56 in 1969 here or here
Evil Ways, #9 in 1970 here or here
Soul Sacrifice here or here, at Woodstock

Abraxas, full album, 1971 : here or here (includes Black Magic Woman, #4 in 1971; Oye Como Va, #13 in 1971)

No One to Depend On, #36 in 1972, here or here

Primera Invasion, 1981 here or here
Searchin’, 1981 here

Hold On, #15 in 1982, here or here

Smooth, featuring Rob Thomas, #1 for 12 weeks in 1999 here (single) or here (album)

While My Guitar Gently Weeps, featuring India.Arie and Yo-Yo Ma, 2010 here (video) or here (album cut)

Anywhere You Want to Go, 2016 here or here

The Kennedy Center Honors 2013

saw keyboardist/composer Herbie Hancock perform in the Albany area, perhaps in the 1990s at the Palace Theatre, though it could have been at the Troy Music Hall.

Right before they went off to South Africa to honor Nelson Mandela, Barack and Michelle Obama attended The Kennedy Center Honors. I always watch the broadcast, which this year is on December 29 on CBS-TV. Four of the five honorees I’m very familiar with.

Opera singer Martina Arroyo is a name I’ve heard, but to say I was familiar with her work would be a gross overstatement.

Actress Shirley MacLaine was in a number of movies I’ve seen over the years, including The Apartment (1960), the creepy The Possession of Joel Delaney (1972), The Turning Point (1977), the Oscar-winning Tears of InternmentTerms of Endearment (1983), Steel Magnolias (1989), Postcards from the Edge (1990), Guarding Tess (1994), and most recently in Bernie (2011), which I liked. I probably saw her sitcom in the early 1970s. But my favorite MacLaine vehicle has to be Being There (1979) with Peter Sellers, one of the very first VHS tapes I ever bought, along with Annie Hall.

One of my work colleagues was listening to Soul Sacrifice, the song that ends the first Santana album, just last month. It was the version of that song at Woodstock that turned the world on to the guitar artistry of Carlos Santana. I loved the first several Santana albums, especially the second one, Abraxas, with that Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen/Oye Como Va segue. (Here’s the original Abraxas and here’s the Abraxas with extra live tracks.) I have some of his jazz fusion music as well. If I wasn’t as enamored with some of his all-star collaborations this century, it was no reflection on his fine playing.

I saw keyboardist/composer Herbie Hancock perform in the Albany area, perhaps in the 1990s at the Palace Theatre, though it could have been at the Troy Music Hall. I didn’t love the show – it seemed too sedate -but I have enough of his albums, including his Joni Mitchell tribute album I picked up just this year, to know that his recordings are quite eclectic. My collection spans back to Maiden Voyage in 1965 and includes Gershwin’s World (1998), featuring Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder, and The New Standard (1996) that my jazz-loving friend Donna hated, but that I embraced, so she gave it to me. Here’s Hancock’s YouTube channel.

I have a LOT of albums by Billy Joel, singer, composer, Piano Man. He I saw in concert in New Paltz, NY in 1974. He was very late – they got lost coming up from Long Island. He wasn’t the showman he became, sitting stiffly at his piano, but his songs, even early on, were always strong. His early MTV videos were generally quite entertaining. I’d be hard-pressed to come up with my favorite of his songs (but I’ll try in five years). Here’s Joel’s YouTube channel.

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