Carlos @ 70

Yesterday, Carlos Santana turned seventy. I didn’t even know it was his birthday when I finally listened to Wild thoughts. I was a little afraid that DJ Khaled would destroy the sublime beauty of the epic “Maria Maria” in the name of sampling/homage. Bros was wise enough to know you don’t mess with perfect, you respectfully work around it and you get Rihanna to sing about crazy, untamed things- as she was born to do.


I’ve loved Carlos Santana and the band Santana from the minute I heard Maria Maria while I was home from boarding school for holiday. Whenever I hear the song, it evokes happiness- the type that comes when you are assured of your mother’s food three times in 24 hours and that the wicked seniors who were surely the girlfriends of the devil or at least a senior demon- were too far away to matter. Then in 2002 he gave the world ‘My kind’ from the album Shaman with Seal on the vocals, listening to that song always unlocks the memories of my friend who had a terrible voice but sang the song anyway, because her crush liked it. She sat across from me in class daily and my ears suffered badly, she would have decked anyone who’d called him her crush. I wish I could call right now and tease her about making him the subject of every second sentence, but MTN doesn’t connect with heaven’s phone lines.


Everyone has a song that unleashes their incredible hulk- Smooth is one of those songs for me. Smooth was largely responsible for Supernatural’s weighing exactly the same on the Grammy scale as the Thriller album- yes, MJ’s thriller. Seventeen years later, it continues to justify the exquisite taste of the judges of that year. If a child of mine tells me about not liking that song, we’d take a drive to a lab with DNA testing facility, my parents would have done the same to any of us claiming to dislike Smokie’s ‘Don’t play your rock and roll.”


I just wanted to celebrate one of my favourite musicians and I have written a mini-epistle. Carlos deserves it though, the things that man does with his guitar and amplifiers can only be described as magic, or as my friend once said- the man dey rub better juju on top his guitar every morning. I wanna know who his Baba is though.

PS: I wrote this yesterday.

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