Ryan Alexander-Tanner

The following is the fourth in a four-part series examining Carlos Santana’s album Supernatural. Part three focused exclusively on the Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana track “Smooth.” This is the final installment.

Let’s suppose that Jesus Christ is your older brother. Everything else about your life is the same—your triumphs and shortcomings, your embarrassments and greatest prides... everything is the same. You aren’t afforded any extraordinary luxuries because of your famous sibling, nor are you subject to any heightened level of danger. You’re just you, and somewhere else out there in the world, your older brother Jesus Christ is walking around, beloved by billions.

Would anything you do in life even matter? Could you even be judged fairly? Even if you excelled in your life, you would always be the child born after Jesus Christ. Forget Jesus; Dwight Eisenhower’s brothers included a lawyer, an Illinois State Congressman, and the president of Johns Hopkins University, respectively, and you don’t give a fuck about any of those men and neither does history.

The shade can get cold. If your older brother was Jesus Christ, would your life even matter? Can you put yourself in that state of mind? If so, you can comprehend what it’s like to be every song on Supernatural that comes after “Smooth.” There are a lot of them, too. After “Smooth” there are somehow nine more songs on the album. Supernatural peaks towards the middle, and is therefore more of a Mt. Olympus than a ladder to heaven.

So who are Jesus’ little brothers and sisters? I can’t mention them all, and I don’t care to. I will mention the first song after “Smooth” though. MERE SECONDS after giving the world his heart, making it real, and not forgetting about it, Carlos Santana is joined, somehow, by Lauryn Hill and CeeLo Green (the Soul Machine). The song is called “Do You Like The Way,” and it might be the best song on the album.

Santana’s “sex scene on a beach in a movie made in 1991 where all the women wear jackets with shoulder pads” guitar is still prevalent on the track, but who gives a fuck? Lauryn Hill is here. LAURYN HILL. L. BOOGIE. This is 1999 Lauryn Hill, too. Greatest rapper alive, Lauryn Hill. She isn’t on the song for a long time, only a good time, and it is a good time. CeeLo is on there too, doing CeeLo things, sounding like an R&B tea kettle who would definitely fuck your girlfriend. Channeling knock-off Marvin Gaye vibes. It’s great. God Save the Dungeon Family.

I’m running out of space here, which is a pity, because the next song, “Maria Maria,” is also remarkable. It sucks, but it was a number one song for ten weeks and won a Grammy, and even more remarkably, inspired a chain of restaurants called “Maria Maria.” Carlos Santana is a mogul. There isn’t a lot to say about the track itself. It’s got Spanish guitar, godawful Brian McKnight-ass R&B vibes, and heavily references West Side Story.

Okay. Listen. It’s become completely clear that I’m going to need to do a fifth part of this Supernatural retrospective. I’ll see you again next week.