Saturday, July 16, 2016

Carlos Santana / This much I know / ‘You can get high on what’s within you’

Carlos Santana.
Photograph by Christopher Patey

Carlos Santana: ‘You can get high on what’s within you’

This much I know

The musician, 68, on Woodstock, being discriminated against at school and making people cry with one note

Ed Vulliamy
Saturday 16 July 2016 14.00 BST

Music is in my blood. My father was a mariachi musician. He played the old Tijuana sound. I started learning the violin when I was five and when we moved to Tijuana from Jalisco, I started listening to be-bop, rock’n’roll, T-Bone Walker, BB King and John Lee Hooker. Their music was an education for me.
After Woodstock, there was no turning back. I guess something happened in my head while I was in Tijuana because when I moved to California, it all fused together. After feeling discriminated against at high school, I had a flowering of creativity in San Francisco. I drew on my Latino roots, plus the roots of all the other music: the soul and jazz, the blues and funk.
You don’t need drugs to get high. Drugs are a distraction, an excuse. You can get high on what’s within you. However, LSD – and I’m not promoting it – when under the right supervision, can help you claim your light, in a tangible way.
I grew up in a poor area, with a lot of people telling me I was unworthy. But I had my dad, who was charismatic and everyone respected, and I grew up like my mother, questioning everything: “Why am I a sinner? What did I do wrong?” I don’t buy into all this judgment, guilt and fear. That’s not God, it’s Godzilla.
God is in everything and everything is potentially divine. I’m not talking about the specific God from the Bible but the universal spirituality. Look at the cherry blossom on the trees in Washington in the spring – when they are out, they are beautiful, they know how divine they are, and they please the divinity.
Reuniting with the original Santana band has been a joy. We went our separate ways in 1972, and it’s been such a long adventure since then. We know each other like we know ourselves, and each brings what they have learned to the table. You can hear all our different inspirations: Latino, soul, funk, blues… but you can also hear how much we’ve grown.
Music cuts right into your subconscious, it speaks right past your head and into your soul. It sublimates the whole process of communication like no other language. Why is it that you can play one note, and it can make people cry? I find it hard to talk about, but it’s the level I live on.
My mother knew how to pull God’s coat tails and get what she wanted. She didn’t do it for herself, she did it for the family. We didn’t get lost, we didn’t go to jail or get into any kind of trouble. We just learned to ask the right questions and be who we are.
It’s always been about conveying a feeling through the guitar. BB King told me before he died, “You have to keep playing, Carlos, you have to keep the flame alight.’”
Carlos Santana’s latest album, Santana IV, is out now

Carlos Santana  / ‘You can get high on what’s within you’
Georgia May Jagger / ‘With modelling, sometimes you’re punky, other times girly and sweet’
Tom Jones  / I might have become a miner like my father 
Tom Jones / ‘Fame allows you to release things that were already in you. It’s like drink in that respect’

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