The Observer, Apr 2004
This Much I Know: Carlos Santana, Musician, 56
Also at The Observer
When you’re late, traffic slows down. When you’re early, everything speeds up.
Everybody’s an artist, whether you plant potatoes or wash dishes or write poetry. An artist is someone who complements life, it’s not just Picasso. Your family is a work of art. Your children are a masterpiece.
Ninety-nine per cent of life is God’s grace and one per cent is personal effort. It’s stupid to say, ‘I Did It My Way.’ Can you imagine dying and going to heaven and singing that song? The angels would leave you belly up.
If you have ever dipped yourself into a bath where the water’s so perfect, you don’t even feel hot or cold, it’s perfect – that’s what seeing angels is like. Then a voice tells you, ‘Get paper and a pencil and write this thing down!’ You get instructions: ‘Be gracious, patient and grateful.’
I’ve been lucky to work with many shamans in my time: Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Jimi Hendrix, and many women, too. Who stands out? John Lee Hooker was very deep, very powerful. Raw like an egg. No phoniness at all.
Death isn’t the end, it’s like another classroom. You finish one semester and you move on. What did you learn back there? Did you utilise your energy to complement life or take away from life?
You are individually accountable for what you think, say and do. We can’t always blame white people or governments or religion.
You are responsible for what you attract in your life. If you’re a good person, things come to you.
At the time of Supernatural, I did a lot of interviews about the killings in schools like Columbine. The last one was in Santana High School. There hasn’t been a massacre since. To me, that’s not a coincidence.
You can’t make love if you’re on the phone; you’ve got to hang up. That’s the way music should be made.
When I play a solo on my guitar on stage, I close my eyes and I feel like I’m a baby in the womb.
The old way of thinking is ‘seeing is believing’. The new way is ‘believing is seeing’. And that’s how we’re going to change the world – with faith. It’s going to take 25 years of earth time to change the world to the new millennium, where peace, light, love, joy, beauty, elegance, excellence, grace, dignity, innocence and purity is the new law.
You should think with your heart, man, not your mind or your pee pee.
I wash my thoughts in light. I chant ‘Om’, ‘I am that I am’ or ‘nam myoho renge kyo’. It don’t matter what kind of soap you use, but use some soap!
Not all hippies are dirty and lazy and want free love and drugs. Some are reincarnated American Indians – rainbow warriors – and they have a big agenda, like Desmond Tutu. We want to make a new bridge like the Golden Gate that the whole world can cross and on the other side there’s peace on earth. That’s not Peter Pan, man, that’s real. And we’re doing it day and day.
The Sixties did make a difference. We stopped Vietnam, we exposed Nixon, the Berlin Wall is down, Mandela is free and we have more ‘Stop’ signs in the street so children don’t get killed.
It wasn’t Ronald Reagan that brought the Berlin Wall down, it was Bob Marley. Reagan just took the credit. I mean this literally. Marley did a European tour in 1978 or 1979 and everywhere he went he drew about 70,000 people with no help from the press or radio or TV. Santana drew maybe 12,000, Led Zeppelin, 30,000, but Bob Marley, with no publicity at all – 70,000 strong. So that’s why the Wall came down. The East Germans wanted to see Bob Marley.
Most of the time the government has the media in its pocket, and there’s a lot of people in the press who are afraid to be unpopular. So the press takes things out in the editing room and gives you powdered milk. There’s too much powdered milk, man, but where’s the water and where’s the real cow?
There is a one-world government right now: a government behind the government. Presidents don’t have any power. When a president wants power, like Kennedy, they shoot him. George Bush doesn’t even have the intelligence to read what they write for him.
Bush is not the solution. War is not the answer. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.
I’m not alone. There’s a lot of beautiful people.