Ryan Alexander-Tanner

The following is the fifth in a four-part series examining Carlos Santana’s album Supernatural. The author of the piece quickly realized four parts were not enough and added a fifth. This, though, is for real the final installment. Seriously. For god’s sake.

I can’t really comment on the “Latin-ness” of Carlos Santana, or the album Supernatural. I have no authority to do so. I’m just an outsider and an admirer looking in at a culture to which I do not belong. I can say, the song following “Maria Maria” SEEMS like the most overt departure from the glitzy, fly-over-state accessible version of Latin music that made this album such a massive commercial monster.

“Migra” is a protest song driven by thudding drums and chant-singing. It goes back and forth between English and Spanish, and it does so in an interesting way. The gist of the Spanish segment is “fuck you, immigration officers, you hateful fucking horse fuckers,” and the English segment of the song is “hey people, let’s love each other and try to do better.”

They never actually say horse fuckers. It’s dual signaling and probably snuck by the exact people who would’ve clutched their pearls over it. Good for you, Carlos Santana. Do your dance. The song itself is actually kind of cool. There are soaring horns in it, and your boy (Ian Karmel) loves soaring horns. I love them. I wish only to float in a hang glider propelled further toward the heavens by soaring horns until I’m engulfed by the sun and die and then you’ll all be sorry.

I will say, though, “Migra” has a part where whoever is singing goes “Chaaaaaa” a bunch of times in a row—and it kind of sucks. It feels like you’re watching a Broadway musical from the ’80s. It’s a nitpick—but baby, I’m picking it.

The next track is “Corazon Espinado,” and it sounds like the kind of song your dad listens to a bunch after he gets divorced from your mom and starts taking salsa dancing lessons to stay in shape and meet available women. A lot of the songs on this album sound like that.

I’ve listened to this album so many times while trying to write about it, I think I might be too close. I’m in too deep. I can’t tell if I love or hate it or have no concrete opinion. Carlos Santana’s guitar sounds the same on every goddamn song, I’ll say that. It walks the line between signature style and self-parody. Maybe it doesn’t walk that line, but it stumbles clumsily along it.

I can’t keep writing about this fucking album. Why did I make myself do this? Why? Maybe I hate myself. Maybe that’s what it really all comes down to. I promised to finish, though, so here are my short reviews of the remaining songs.

“Wishing it Was”—sucks. “El Farol”—geriatric wet dream. “Primavera”—no. “The Calling”—uhh. “Day of Celebration”—only because it’s the last song. All right. There. I fucking did it.

Side Note: After more than four years (what) of writing this column, I’m taking a brief hiatus to work on a side project for a little bit. In the meantime, my sweet, beautiful friend Hutch Harris is going to be taking over this column. I’ll be back in a couple of months, or never, or something in between. I love you!