Spirit Talk with Carlos Santana

 
We know that a two-hour or three-hour concert is going to feel like fifteen seconds, because the first thing that happens when something spiritual assaults the place, time disappears. Gravity disappears. Issues disappear.

-Carlos Santana

 

The Future: Electric Church Music

When we were discussing the past few albums, about how you sort of received a message influencing you towards that direction, do you have any sense what the next ten years might bring us?

Carlos Santana
Yes. The music that I want to play is music that is all-inclusive, music that will be able to continue to bring the walls down, like Berlin, to go to Cuba and play there with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, music that has the rhythms of Africa, the melodies of Europe. For example, there's something really victorious when you go "da, da... [sings "La Marseillaise"]." When you play music from Sun Ra, which is really bug-out music, like a supernova exploding in front of you and you hear angels and beginnings and endings. Stravinsky and James Brown and Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix with feedback, all of 'em, there's a certain music that sounds like 2001 [2001: A Space Odyssey] when all the colors assault you and you're going like a gazillion miles an hour and, at the same time, you're standing still. You know what I'm talking about?

I do, yeah. Absolutely.

That's the music that I want to play around the corner, along with On The Corner [by] Miles Davis. I'd like to work very, very soon with Bill Laswell. I'm hearing the music already. This one is very solid and is very kingly, very royal, very regal. It's influenced a lot by Manitas de Plata, a flamenco guitar player who was like the flamenco John Lee Hooker, very raw. I want to play music that's kind of like celestial hymns. Jimi Hendrix was going that way because he was calling it electric church music. Duke Ellington, before he died he had the Bible on one hand and sheet music on another, and he was doing sacred concerts. I'm just following the script that is given to me, and after a while you can only do what you do. Then, God calls you to do something else and play music that would bring a commonality to all humans and back into their own light.

Our conversation has really revolved around this idea of spirituality, and you've discussed how you quite literally, it sounds like, hear guidance or feel guidance from something above or something bigger than ourselves. There have been times in my life where I've felt that push. Do you have any sense for why you're so open to that? I think that that may exist for everyone but maybe there's noise that doesn't allow us to hear it. Do you know why you're able to receive that message when some others aren't?

Carlos Santana
I was born with a hunger and a thirst to not let go of God's hand when I cross the street. For example, I never play music for money. I never play music to pick up chicks. I never play music to do anything like that, to be famous in show business or entertainment. I just wanted to be adored because people adored my father. When I was five-years-old and saw how women and men and children and old people just adored my father's eyes and his voice and his violin. I just said, "That's what I want. I want to be adored like my dad." And he taught me how to, with the violin, how to talk to birds. He would go like, [whistles]. He goes, "Watch this. Mira, mira." He grabbed the violin and he played, [and] he'd do certain things with the bow and the violin, and then these birds come over and start looking at dad, moving their heads back and forth. Then they start whistling back what he was saying. When I was five or seven-years-old he did that to me. He freaked me out. It's like he showed me the code. There's a way through sounds to communicate with birds and people and plants and just, "Here's the code, man." Here's the universal tone, which is who I am. I am a universal tone like Bob Marley and Coltrane. In one note, people know who I am.

Absolutely.

My dad taught me that there's a way to connect sound [and] resonant vibration immediately to the listener's heart. For me, it's just fun discovering how to activate myself and activate them to a spiritual joy, to celebrate and not to think like a villain or a victim.

You moved from Mexico to San Francisco. I live in San Francisco and I've lived here for a number of years, and I have felt more at home here than any place I've ever been. I wasn't born here but it is my home. You've obviously stayed in the Bay Area for a long time, do you feel like this area has affected your music? Has it affected you as a person?

Absolutely. The Bay Area is not even the United States. The United States can't stand San Francisco because we think outside the box. We're the ones that say the world is round and they say the world is flat. We are the Atlantis of the Bay. There's more artists than con artists per block, per person. The Bay Area, since I've been here, gravitates to consciousness revolution - The Black Panthers, the hippies. The United Nations was founded here in San Francisco. So, yes, I feel very blessed to live in the Bay Area because there's more artists. Plus, in San Francisco or the Bay Area people don't walk around auditioning for a part, man. We passed the audition. In L.A. everybody's sucking their cheeks and trying to be discovered. We don't want to be discovered. We know who we are, and we like it.

Do you think that music has the power to really change the world, to reach beyond the people who are passionate about music? Can music change the world?

Carlos Santana
Yes. I will bet you anything that if you put selective music by spiritual musicians on elevators and shopping malls there would be less Columbines, there would be less postals, less rape, less crime. When you're stuck in an elevator and you're ready to go postal and you hear "A Love Supreme" or "One Love" or "What's Going On" or "Blowing in the Wind" or "Imagine" you can't fucking do anything stupid anymore.

You're right.

It won't permit you, man. Your molecules obey the sound of divinity. If you just compile a CD [of] "What's Going On," "Imagine," "One Love," "A Change is Gonna Come," Sam Cook, you know, and you play it in shopping malls continuously I bet you anywhere in the world people would stop fighting and stop stealing and stop raping, because molecules obey the sound of divinity. That's just the way it is. Just like, excuse the expression, when you're 17-years-old and you see something beautiful and you get excited, all the blood rushes to your penis. I'm talking about physical molecules. I'm not talking about the sex or the squirming, the giggling, stupid stuff. I'm talking about the order [of things]. There's a sense of order in this planet. If we would consciously go to Seattle, where they program the Muzaks of all the elevators and hotels in the cities, and say, "We want you to try this just for 24 hours. Just play this kind of music, these 27 songs," you would see an incredible difference in human being behavior.

This spawned another thought. We were talking about some of the collaborations that are easier to get onto the radio than fifteen-minute jams from the '70s. I mean that stuff isn't going to find its way to the radio. Do you think that that was potentially part of why you went in that direction or part of why you were told to go in that direction? Because if we can get your music on the radio - and I don't mean to downplay the quality of that music, it might not be my favorite but it's still quality music - do you think that getting that, returning to the radio, can sort of get that to more people and potentially make somewhat of a shift?

Well, in the words of Malcolm X, "By any means necessary." As long as it's with grace and without brutality, you should assault the senses of the listener. My instructions are get on the radio, work with Clive Davis, work with J. Lo, work with Justin Timberlake. You will have a chance to play with McCoy Tyner and Trey Anastasio and all that. We're all children of God, anyway. But, if you get a chance get on the radio. Prince himself told me, "Because of you, I get to play more guitar." For a while they wouldn't play guitar on the radio, man. There wouldn't be no guitar solos on the radio. The sound of Prince's guitar or Eric Clapton's guitar or Derek Trucks' guitar, it's all about choices. I don't know if Derek wants to get on the radio. Some people don't want to get into radio. They want to stay, quote-unquote, pure. Miles didn't have a problem playing "Human Nature" or "Time After Time," and Coltrane didn't have a problem playing "My Favorite Things." So, why should I get a little snobby and shit about thinking that my stuff is too good to get on the radio?

JamBase | Holy Spheres
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http://www.santana.com/

[Published on: 11/8/07]

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Comments

yemmw Thu 11/8/2007 05:53PM
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yemmw

Chad Kroeger rocks my world

derekjones starstarstarstarstar Thu 11/8/2007 07:24PM
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fantastic dialogue and a very important thread. And i love the quote: "molecules obey the sound of divinity". Thank you Carlos and thank you Kayceman.

phunkle starstarstarstarstar Thu 11/8/2007 07:51PM
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phunkle

Great interview. Thank you both

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 05:24AM
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guitardave starstarstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 08:51AM
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guitardave

Carlos is the real deal. Its a testament to the sad state of pop radio that a giant such as he has to play with Nickelback and Matchbox 20 to get on. It would be easy to bash him for selling out (but who wouldn't want to sell 10 million albums in one shot?) I think there are many people, though, that may hear a song like "Smooth" and will go back and seek out "Se A Cabo", "Jingo" or "Samba Pa Ti".

sunnbear starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 09:09AM
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sunnbear

One of my fondest memories is Carlos jamming with Jerry and the Dead in Calaveras. What a trip! He is an acceptional human being.

USCTrojans4Life starstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 09:12AM
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nsafay Fri 11/9/2007 09:50AM
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great. here we go again.

DrownedInSound starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 10:05AM
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DrownedInSound

Overrated guitar player?! are you kidding me? That's a joke right, some sort of sarcasm i don't understand? One dimensional? Latin-freak outs like "Soul Sacrifice," "Abraxas," jazz-fusion mastery with McLaughlin on "Love Devotion Surrender," even pop stuff that most of us may not care for? Jamming like a mad man with Trey, Panic, Clapton... Overrated and one dimensional? Please tell me that's a joke? There are those as good, but i would have a hard time saying anyone is flat-out better than SANTANA! wow... overrated... now i've seen it all.

nuke_ticketbastard starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 10:29AM
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i hear you drowned in sound , ihave to wonder if many of the people commenting here have ever seen santana live in concert before? it is truly a monumentous experience...

and i have to assume that MILES GONE & GUITARDAVE got bored in the first paragraph and did not read the entire article , based on their comments?

why did he play w/ those people , selling out , getting paid ? the article addressed all those things! did oyu guys not understand or what?

carlos santana is above these types of petty speculations... are you not grasping the idea that he is putting forth which is that love is the answer?

peace

Tim9 starstarstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 10:29AM
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I strongly second you on his work with McLaughlin. I also can't believe there isn't an "organic trance" group named Metatron.....yet.

jr2037 Fri 11/9/2007 11:03AM
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jr2037

Abraxas is life changing.

radioboy Fri 11/9/2007 11:18AM
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ClaypoolFunksMe starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 11:45AM
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I appreciate Carlos speaking from the heart, and I use his words as a deep wisdom which we should all attempt to see for what it is... honesty... the truth. All of this incredible music that, like he is attempting to get across, speaks directly to the soul, to our molecules, to our very essence, could not exist without a divine hand. I do not believe that this is all just one big coincidental jumble of chemicals... theres more to it, and this is what Carlos is trying to get across here.

Now, I myself do not like the pop trend, but I can see where he is coming from... its about unity. Although i don't like the music of Nickleback or Rob Thomas or Justin Timberlake, these musicians could all actually be alot deeper then us jazz freaks care to admit. I don't think Carlos would be working with them unless he believed they had character and purpose. By playing with them, it is getting more people interested in actual good music beause hopefully some people buy supernatural and then pick up III or Caravanaserai shortly thereafter and get to know what reality is.

Overall, the world is getting fucked... your government allowed 9/11 to happen for its own greedy purposes and have used it to limit our freedoms and introduce draconian measures that may one day kill all of this... anything enlightening. So before this happens, pay attention and make sure that you know whats going on, or else you might just be sucked into a fascist culture just like the germans of the 1930s and 40s did. Get real, investigate 9/11.

nuke_ticketbastard Fri 11/9/2007 12:35PM
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on selling out:

any artist at all recording music w/ any other artist at all- NO SELLOUT

any artist doing what robert plant did when he appeared IN a coke commercial - SELLOUT

jus my 2c

geeray starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 01:23PM
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Great interview man!

Dig how Carlos mentions Pharoah Sanders more than almost any other jammer... the bestest!!!

Now we just have to get a few gigs with Carlos and Phil Keaggy sorted out...

Can it happen?!?!?

=o)

HOPEFULPHAN starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 01:28PM
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Guil starstarstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 01:35PM
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Carlos is one of the greatest guitarists of all time and owns the most recognizable tone of any musician alive. Although I don't enjoy his recent work and collaborations as much as his earlier work, Carlos has earned the right to follow his own path as he sees fit. I have seen Santana live many times including some epic 4-5 hour shows back in the Eighties and the transcendent performance with Trey's band at the Warfield. I hope to see Carlos return to those free-flowing times and focus on playing his guitar, but I am glad that he has found a way to reach more listeners.

guitardave starstarstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 01:36PM
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guitardave

I did read the entire article and appreciated Carlos words. I also called him "the real deal" from the outset. You should have read my post more closely because it acts in defense of his pop leanings. I even said it is useful in hopefully exposing the man's back catalog to younger audiences. Its more of an indictment of Clear Channel / Live Nation Radio which has managed to homogenize the airwaves across the entire country.

Runde starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 09:00PM
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Runde

beautiful interview. thank you kayceman.

thelostsailor starstarstarstarstar Sat 11/10/2007 08:09AM
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Thanks for this. Virtually everything Carlos says is as magical as his music. Of any interview you could conduct with any musician, who could provide more meaning in (mere) words?

The Force is strong with this one....

muzic123 starstarstarstarstar Sat 11/10/2007 10:28AM
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I appreciate Santana's openness. He plays from the heart. Watching his videos on Youtube-I see comments saying "I feel better after hearing this song." Music is a powerful force. Santana wants to lift the human spirit. I admire that. As far as his collaborations with the pop crowd, etc., any great artist wants to share what he has with those around him. He has a way of lifting these groups of late to higher levels. That is a mark of a true great artist. A great artist isn't afraid of negativity toward them. I noticed he doesn't get a lot of play time on the radio. Its their (radio) loss. However, they cannot manipulate him in such a way that he loses his fan base. I been to several concerts, which are always packed. You go Carlos!

jaghabpv starstarstarstarstar Sat 11/10/2007 01:34PM
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jaghabpv

i cant believe you people say his music might have been good back in the day! music is timeless, why would it be good then but not now. and to the person who said carlos could learn a thing or two from trucks... trucks is still young as shit and has a lot to learn, not to say he isn't a great guitarist. i would love to see santana and trucks that would be awesome.

all i have to say is wow. i cant believe you people could really talk trash about santana

radioboy Sat 11/10/2007 01:54PM
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music is timeless because of recordable formats, it's good then and now, but now sucks, most of you people are always explaing things as if you are on some inside track, anyone who is creative and is an artist. There are alot of sleeping people in this world and he exploits it, he is a very efficient guitarist.period.

cuttyfives Sun 11/11/2007 09:47AM
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good article...people rippin santana..wow. this guy is amazing, his sound is very unique and his pop stuff aint all that bad. selling out is an opportunity, i would "sell out" in a second to get money. What kind of idiot wouldnt?

roberto767 starstarstarstar Sun 11/11/2007 11:10AM
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roberto767

The Warfield DVD with Trey was pretty damn sick... and Trey has kinda done some cheesy collaborations (e.g. Bo Bice, Kid Rock, Matisyahu). What's the difference?

Flat5 Sun 11/11/2007 07:51PM
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Flat5

wow! milesgone exposes his ignorance. i always thought he was smart...guess not..

well, great job kayceman! although, you forgot to put sam cooke's name in bold print, ya know, like you did with widespread panic and derek trucks. other than that, job well done!

THoff46 Sun 11/11/2007 10:27PM
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Randle starstarstarstarstar Mon 11/12/2007 07:43AM
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Randle

Thank you for the insightful interview. Carlos you are a beam of light.

Jamshyd Mon 11/12/2007 12:49PM
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Whoa! HOPEFULPHAN's comment was pretty ridiculous. Derek Trucks give Carlos Santana lessons!?!?!?!? Carlos was melting Derek's face when Derek was still in diapers. Trucks would have so much to learn from Santana. Like learning how to be passionate about your music. I liked Derek Trucks the first time I herd him, his name was Duane Allman and he was a million times better. I can understand Santana loosing some "true" fans with Supernatural and so forth. But do you forget who else was on that album? Eric Clapton. Do you wanna talk crap about him selling out? And Santana still has one of the best rhythm sections out there. Dennis Chambers and drums, and the bass player played with Miles back in the late 80's. Just because hes reaching to a wider audience doesn't mean he looses talent or meaning in music. Obviously HOPEFULPHAN doesn't know any about either of the two.

clarkwgriswold star Tue 11/13/2007 07:00AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/14/2007 04:35AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

Flat5 .. If you enjoy carlos with nicklelback good for you!!

I do not care for that aspect ok??

Carlos rules, he is a legend.. good god man.. you act like I bashed every aspect of his career!!!!! Lighten up. dude...

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/14/2007 04:42AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

sometimes people are so sensitive here, u cannot say one damn thing that is negative with out someone saying you are close minded or ignorant or whatever.. I am 37 years old. I have heard all of this mans material.

The one thing I could not swallow was the nickelback collaboration.

this is my opinion.. it does not make me ignorant ok??

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstar Wed 11/14/2007 04:42AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

now I will lighten up too :)

HOPEFULPHAN starstar Fri 11/16/2007 02:43PM
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milesgone i couldnt agree more. people kiss ass on here like they think the artists actually read this website. im sure even if they did they wouldnt care what anyone says. for me santanas style or jams as he calls it are too repetative. lets not forget all his 1st hits were covers. jingo, evil ways, oye como va, and black magic woman.

Hammyabeer starstarstarstarstar Sun 11/18/2007 12:32PM
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Anyone who reads this interview and isn't engulfed by it's message and truth is missing it entirely. Thanks to you both. The 60's was just the wakeup call. The time is now. Peace, Love, Unity, Respect.

BlowsAgainsttheEmpire Mon 11/19/2007 04:27AM
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BlowsAgainsttheEmpire

I hear that Carlos may just get his wish to perform with Derek Trucks onstage as the dTb may be opening some 2008 Carlos Santana performances.

DaKracken starstarstarstarstar Mon 11/19/2007 10:09PM
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I love the hippie dippie cosmic speak as Carlo's has experienced so much and influenced so many lives yet he is still optimistic and down to earth. The idea of collaborating with current artist and being humble about Rob Thomas or Chad from Nickelback writing a song for him and feeling honored by that speaks volumes of the mans character. Everybody who dug "smooth" won't relate to a classic album like Abraxis but it opens a portal to that universe and Carlo's welcomes you to the jam regardless.It is so immature to trash mainstream artist like Chad/Rob/Vanessa Carlton for their commercial success. How many of you jam freaks think you have to ability to connect with an icon like Carlos create a memorable melody and have millions of other people respond by purchasing the music. Everybody who likes a simple pop song are not cluelesss sheep-my father in law (who is 75) likes to play supernatural whenever I come over and it is nice just to sharethat with him-don't think I can get him playing air guitar to soul sacrifice but I'll take what I can get-a common connection. The connection Carlos strives for supercedes trends or demographics-he wants to bring joy to peoples hearts and that is the sign of a true artist.

Derekmk Tue 11/20/2007 01:48PM
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Wow, this is perhaps the most important article I've read on here. Thanks so much for it and the questions you asked. Carlos hinted (don't know why he didn't elaborate) on hearing and connecting with the divine which is your higher-self and other beings. You are God! It's not through psychedelics (you can learn from them, sure), but meditation. Sitting in silence, you'll see and hear things you never have before. Self-sacrifice and love. Do more than speak out..create change. Thank you Santana. Love you!

guitardave starstarstar Thu 11/29/2007 01:51PM
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guitardave

No matter what he puts out, he smokes the shit out of that Paul Reed Smith.

His shows are always great. The man is so passionate about music its unthinkable that he'd ever "mail it in".

BlowsAgainsttheEmpire starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/16/2008 08:08AM
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BlowsAgainsttheEmpire

Looks liek there was a reason Carlos mentioned DT. Glad that he picked great support. And agree with him about being to snobby for airplay. Wish DT would bite the bullet and go mainstream some. It certainly wouldnt kill him or his band or their music and may actually open them up for great things.

BROTHERHOOD805 starstarstarstarstar Fri 6/27/2008 12:13AM
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BROTHERHOOD805

Since I started listening to Mr Carlos Santanas music its been a great change for me i went from hip hop to rock because Mr Santana is a amazing person and he inspire a lot of people including me. and i like all his interview music and quotes it has a meaning to it and i like santana open minded and he has nothing to hide he keepin it real. my favorite music of his is Oye Como Va Black Magic Women Maria Maria Into the night and lots more