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13 Santana Songs You Must Have On Your Playlist

Carlos Santana 2 Oye Como Va

Nobody has been able to deny or question Carlos Santana’s position as one of the best guitarists in the world.

For more than four decades, Carlos has been a groundbreaking visionary whose renowned signature sound has transcended music genres. With his riveting guitar playing and fusion of rock ‘n’ roll and Latin American jazz, he has forever evolved throughout the years, collaborating with artists such as Steven Tyler, Alicia Keys, Rob Thomas, Shakira and Chad Kroeger.

Celebrating the premiere of our most recent Song Around The World featuring Carlos Santana, here are a few Santana songs you must definitely add to your playlist.

1. Smooth (feat. Rob Thomas)

Album: Supernatural, 1999

Supernatural’s basic blueprint was cribbed from Deuces Wild, a 1997 album that paired B.B. King with a collection of established artists, including Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison, and D’Angelo.

Source: Esquire.com

2. Black Magic Woman/ Gypsy Queen

Album: Abraxas, 1970

Written in the late 60s by Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green, the original version of “Black Magic Woman” was composed with a simple bass/guitar/drum instrumental track.

However, what makes the song unique is the combination of “Gypsy Queen” by the Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo, adding keyboards, an electric piano, a Hammond B3 organ and numerous percussion instruments.

3. Why Don’t You & I

Album: Shaman, 2002

A song by Santana, featuring the lead vocals of Chad Kroeger. In 2003, the song was re-recorded with the vocals of Alex Band of The Calling, replacing Kroeger’s voice in the third US release due to Roadrunner Records not allowing him to appear on the song.

4. Oye Como Va

Album: Abraxas, 1970

Carlos Santana Cindy Blackman 2 Oye Como Va

Tito Puente composed “Oye Como Va” in 1963 but it was popularized by the psychedelic rock of Santana in 1970.

Part of what makes Santana’s guitar riffs on “Oye Como Va” so memorable are the nuances he throws in: a classic Carlos “hammer/pull” trill during the second and third melodies, and a series of slides up and down the high “E” string throughout.

Source: Ultimate Santana

Watch Cindy Blackman Santana, Becky G, Tito Puente, Jr., Tal Wilkenfeld, Rubén Rada, along with 20 other musicians from around the globe, join together for this energetic, classic, feel-good groove.

Oye Como Va ft. Carlos Santana & Cindy Blackman Santana | Playing For Change | Song Around The World

Michael V. Rios is an internationally recognized visual artist whose art has been featured on such legendary albums as Santana's Supernatural, Steve Winwood's About Time and Poncho Sanchez’s Latin Spirits. Michael's visionary, multilayered approach to his art is deeply influenced by global cultures, music, rhythm and a celebration of life.

Michael has generously allowed Playing For Change to utilize his original painting entitled Afro Cuban Beats II to coincide with the release of PFC's Song Around The World version of “Oye Como Va!” This exclusive and limited shirt release is a beautiful representation of the life, vibrancy, soul and interconnectivity of the drum!

Don’t miss your opportunity to get a special “Oye Como Va” T-shirt by Michael V. Rios. 

Go to the PFC Shop

Read our featured entry in the Rolling Stone Magazine about “Oye Como Va.”

5. Europa (Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile)

Album: Amigos, 1976

Amigos is the amalgamation of Carlos Santana’s many musical styles throughout his career in the 70s. The genres vary between Latin rock, jazz, salsa and a little bit of flamenco.

Many fans will recognize the rumor that “Europa” was written for a girl who was lost in a bad drug addiction. The song was also an incredibly popular trademark which started to lead Santana to a more jazz fusion style.

Carlos Santana - Europa (Earth's Cry, Heaven's Smile) Live at Montreux 2011

6. Samba Pa Ti

Album: Abraxas, 1970

“Samba Pa Ti” is a two-part song; the first section features a guitar melody over a simple chord progression by Gregg Rolie on the Hammond B3 organ, and after the figure is played twice, the G major speeds up to the samba rhythm and blues riffs.

No doubt why “Samba Pa Ti” is one of the most memorable instrumental tunes by Santana.

Santana - Samba Pa Ti (Live at Montreux 2011)

7. The Game Of Love (feat. Michelle Branch)

Album: Shaman, 2002

“The Game Of Love” was another great hit from the album Shaman in 2002. The song was written by Gregg Alexander and Rick Nowells, sung by The Wreckers member, Michelle Branch, and produced by Carlos Santana and Clive Davis.

Santana - The Game Of Love ft. Michelle Branch

8. Evil Ways

Album: Santana, 1969

Produced by Brent Dangerfield and Santana, this first album was recorded at Pacific Recording Studios under the Columbia Records label, producing the two solid and most popular singles, “Jingo” and “Evil Ways.”

This song was originally recorded by Willie Bobo in 1965; it was written by Bobo's guitarist, Sonny Henry. Bobo was a Latin jazz percussionist who was a big influence on Santana and played on some of their tracks in the late '70s. "He was one of the first guys who tried to merge Latin music and blues together on record," Carlos Santana said in ”The Guitar Greats” by John Tobler and Stuart Grundy. "He did it before us, because we were doing it on the street, and he was already doing it on records."

Source: Song Facts

Santana - Evil Ways, 1969 "Woodstock" Festival

Did you know? While Carlos Santana was the frontman of Santana Blues, the band had been offered to open up for The Who and Howlin’ Wolf, however, it was not possible due to Carlos' sickness at the time.

9. Maria Maria (feat. The Producer G&B)

    Album: Ghetto Blues, The Product G&B, 2001

    Released on November 23, 1999 as a single from the album Supernatural, the character of the song “Maria” is described as someone who is living a challenging life and is trying to figure out ways to make it better.

    All in all, “Maria Maria” was an extraordinary hit around the globe and was named one of the top Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Decade.

    Santana - Maria Maria ft. The Product G&B (Hardrock Live)

    10. Just Feel Better (feat. Steven Tyler)

    Album: All That I Am, 2005

    In 2005, Carlos Santana and the Aereosmith lead vocalist teamed up to release “Just Feel Better,” the first single off Santana’s album All That I Am.

    Did you know? There is a version of this song with the vocals of Wes Scatlin, vocalist and guitarist of Puddle of Mudd.

    Santana - Just Feel Better ft. Steven Tyler

    11. Soul Sacrifice

    Album: Santana, 1969

    The first time where most listeners heard “Soul Sacrifice” was at Woodstock in 1969. This performance was one of the most memorable performances in the festival and it is remembered for its positive energy and spirit, bringing people together.

    Soul Sacrifice - Santana, Woodstock 1969

    12. Put Your Lights On (feat. Everlast)

    Album: Supernatural, 1999

    Everlast wrote this song and sang lead. The term "Put Your Lights On" basically means "watch out," and is frequently addressed to the "sinners." When Everlast (Erik Schrody) left House Of Pain, he gave up alcohol and nicotine, then converted to Islam. The song has a religious meaning to him, and even includes the Muslim prayer "La Ilaha Il Allah," which translates to "There is only Allah." Everlast wasn't sure if he should leave that part in, but Santana, who is also very spiritual, wanted it in there.

    Source: Song Facts

    Santana - Put Your Lights On, feat Everlast

    13. Guajira

    Album: Santana III, 1971

    After their first successful debut at the Woodstock festival, Santana started to go upward, gaining popularity with each album and reaching its sales peak with Santana III, an album based on the fusion of experimental jazz and Latin music.

    “Guajira” was a standout track on both Santana III and Sacred Fire (Live in South America). While both releases were musical works of art, the live version offered a more compelling, polished, jazzy performance in comparison to the original, raw and simple version. 

    Carlos Santana - Guajira (Live in Mexico)

    What is your favorite Santana song of all time? Which other artist would you like to read about next? Let us know in the comments!

    Santanacindy entry portrait

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