[tuneful review] Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World by Gary Golio and Rudy Gutierrez

“There’s a melody in everything. And once you find the melody, then you connect immediately with the heart. Because sometimes English or Spanish, Swahili or any language gets in the way. But nothing penetrates the heart faster than the melody.” ~ Carlos Santana

Just as there are celebrated rock singers whose vocals are instantly recognizable (Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks), there are electric guitarists whose signature stylings and timbres we’d know just about anywhere.

Carlos Santana is rightfully ranked among the greatest rock guitarists of all time, alongside such masters as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. When you hear the pure, piercing tone of his guitar as it caresses a melodic line (oh, those amazing solo riffs and sustained notes!), there’s no mistaking whose fiery, impassioned “voice” you’re hearing.

Santana pioneered a unique fusion of rock, blues, jazz, and Latin, African and Cuban rhythms in the late 60’s and early 70’s — a distinctive sound that continues to electrify audiences today. With early hits like “Black Magic Woman” and “Evil Ways,” the rare addition of percussion instruments (congas, timbales) to guitar and organ flavored the music with an old world, positively primal feel. The aptly named, strictly instrumental “Soul Sacrifice,” with its driving polyrhythms and rousing solos, pulsates with an energy that fairly inhabits the listener, taking him/her on a transformative musical journey.

Though I’ve enjoyed Santana’s music since college, I knew very little about Carlos Santana’s childhood, so I was especially pleased to see that New York Times bestselling music biographer Gary Golio had recently published Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World (Henry Holt, 2018). Illustrated by Pura Belpré Honor and Américas Award recipient Rudy Gutierrez (who created Santana’s iconic Shaman CD cover), this captivating picture book describes Carlos’s early years in Mexico as he seeks a personal, authentic mode of musical expression.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Don’t forget to vote in today’s critical midterm elections!

This cool poster was created by Missouri artist Mary Engelbreit and is available as a free download from her official website. The image fits on an 11″ x 17″ size sheet.

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2. Some of you may know that my mother served in the Women’s Army Corps during WWII. She was one of the first 59 women from Hawai’i to enlist (she wrote about her experiences in this short chronology).

Just so happens Maryland author Ann McCallum read my post about Margaret not too long ago and asked to include her in a new book she was writing about women in the U.S. Army. This past summer, I shared more information and photos via email with Ann, who wrote a chapter about Margaret.

Ann recently shared the final cover of the book on social media — what a surprise to see Margaret’s photo right on the front! I know my mother would be thrilled and amazed. Women Heroes of the U.S. Army will be published in July 2019 — can’t wait to see it! Pretty cool, no? 🙂

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3. Speaking of notable women, check out this cool print by Massachusetts illustrator Karen Hallion. Her first “She Series” collage features these 9 kickass role models:

Wonder Woman
Rey from Star Wars
Mulan
Moana
Princess Leia
Anne of Green Gables
Angelica Schulyer from the musical Hamilton
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Okoye from Black Panther

You can purchase this 11″ x 14″ open edition print at Karen’s Etsy Shop — a great place to browse, especially if you’re a Star Wars, Harry Potter, Buffy or steampunk fan. Each of these female heroes is also available separately as small 8″ x 10″ signed Lustre prints.

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to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free

“He’s a poet. Basically he’s a poet. He does not trust his voice. He doesn’t trust his guitar playing. He doesn’t think he’s good at anything, except writing—and even then he has self-doubts. Have you heard that thing he wrote about Woody Guthrie? That to me is the sum of his life’s work so far. Whatever happens, that is it. That sums it up.” ~ Eric Clapton on Bob Dylan

Glory Be! The man has gone and done it!

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature is such a crowning achievement for our favorite song and dance man. Bob turned 75 this year and is still breaking boundaries as the only singer-songwriter to have ever been awarded this coveted prize.

Aside from my inner fangirl whooping for joy and turning cartwheels at the sheer awesomeness of the whole thing, what I’m most happy about is that perhaps this distinction will inspire the average person to broaden his/her view of what constitutes “poetry.”

A rare smile!

Poetry doesn’t have to be esoteric, elitist, abstract or inaccessible. It doesn’t have to live in slim volumes with boring covers. It can be the well crafted lyrics of anthemic compositions that capture the heartbeat of personal and social history through time.

After all, poetry began as an oral tradition, much of it meant to be performed with music. To those who find Dylan undeserving, I would ask that they throw off their cloaks of intellectual snobbery and abandon preconceptions about conventional “Literature.”

Bob with his son Jesse

“Literature” is not limited to printed novels, plays, or short stories. Talk to me about more than five decades of enormous cultural influence, words of searing truth, crackling inventiveness. Talk to me about enlarging the possibilities of American popular music.

Take the average Joe in a grocery store check-out line. Chances are he’s never read any of the Nobel Prize winning novels, but he’s heard a Dylan song or two.

A song is a poem for everyman.

I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I’ll die like a poet.

Eight years ago, the very first time I hosted Poetry Friday, I asked participants to post their favorite Dylan lyrics. I shared the 8th of Dylan’s “11 Outlined Epigraphs.” He was 22 when he wrote this in 1963:

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celebrating sir paul mccartney’s birthday with linda’s lemon drizzle cake

“Nothing pleases me more than to go into a room and come out with a piece of music.” ~ Paul McCartney

 

Why, hello. Thought we’d serve up some lemon drizzle cake in honor of Paul McCartney’s 74th birthday tomorrow. Please help yourself to a piece or two or three and a nice warm cuppa. 🙂

While you’re sip sip sipping and ever-so-politely wiping crumbs from the corners of your mouth, enjoy Paul’s “English Tea,” which I strongly suspect he wrote just for me. See if you agree:

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Am I not a “nanny bakes fairy cakes” kind of person who tends to veer into twee at a moment’s notice? I think “English Tea” should become Alphabet Soup’s official song. 🙂

Miles and miles of English garden stretching past the willow tree . . . lines of holly, hocks and roses listen most attentively.

It’s hard to believe Paul is going to be 74; he hasn’t slowed down one bit. Right now he’s in the midst of his One on One Tour, and just a week ago he released “Pure McCartney,” a comprehensive retrospective collection of his solo, Wings and Fireman work available in 3 formats: 2CD, 4CD and 4LP. The 4CD version features an amazing 67 tracks, all handpicked by the man himself.

To help promote “Pure McCartney,” he’s done a series of six virtual reality mini-documentaries filmed in his home studio in England, where he discusses backstories and recording/production tidbits about some of his songs. These can be seen in 360-degree videos or in virtual reality on a mobile app for Android or iOS.

I love how he continues to be on the forefront of studio technology. Never one to rest on his laurels, he’s always been pro-innovation (Sgt Pepper, anyone?) — the mark of a true creative, a musician through and through. When it comes to staying power and audience appeal in a rapidly changing and highly competitive industry, Paul takes the biscuit!

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billy collins, sir paul mccartney, and a summer blog break

wildair
via The Wheatfield

Ah, summer! Time to step away from the stove and laptop, relax, and stay cool.

Mr. Cornelius, 50-something Paddingtons, and I are looking forward to ice cream sundaes, fresh peach pie, reading trashy novels mind-enriching classics, growing basil, hanging out with relatives, tickling the ivories, and shopping for cool things.

Before we sign off for a bit, wanted to share this interesting video of former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins interviewing Sir Paul McCartney at Rollins College last October. They discuss early academic influences (Chaucer, Shakespeare, Keats), songwriting, poetry, celebrity, and much more. Paul shares a few naughty bits from Chaucer’s “Miller’s Tale” and sings “Blackbird” at the end.

photo by Scott Cook

I especially enjoyed hearing how the Beatles honed their craft, how John’s snarkiness complemented Paul’s optimism when it came to writing songs. Paul hasn’t lost any of his boyish charm or good looks, remains humble and grounded, and it was nice to know that had he not become a musician, he might have tried his hand at teaching English. 🙂

Can you imagine walking into class on the first day of school and seeing Paul as your teacher??!!! SCREAM.

The video is about an hour long, so you might want to bookmark this post and come back later when you have enough time to get nice and comfy, sip a tall glass of iced tea, and enjoy the meeting of two brilliant minds. The students in the video remain amazingly calm throughout. If I ever found myself in the same room with both Billy and Paul, I’d probably faint dead away. Just sayin’.

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