RaR28 – Evil Ways


  1. Listen to the recording of the tune by clicking the attached mp3 file. This will open the recording in a new window or tab. Listen and follow along with the listening guide in the book.
  2. Read the liner notes below.
  3. Read the information “What to Listen For”
  4. Respond to the Rate-A-Record/Questions by clicking on the assignment link and then click on on the button “Write Submission” (to the right of Text Submission) to record your response. Do not use the comments field.
Evil Ways by Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana is a native of Mexico and has done more than any other rock artist to highlight the contributions of Latin American music to the American soundscape. He is hailed as one of the finest guitarists in rock for his elegant, searing, and soulful blues-based solos. His trademark is long, melodic lines filled with piercing, sustained notes that soar above complex, polyrhythmic accompaniments, perhaps the legacy of the first instrument he learned to play the violin. Santana is also known for his spiritual investment in his music; his self-proclaimed goal is to “utilize sound, resonance, vibration, to bring people closer to their own hearts.”

Santana was born in Jalisco, Mexico, to a musical family; his father was a Mariachi violinist. He started playing violin at age five, but at age eleven he devoted himself to the guitar, influenced by electric blues stalwarts like John Lee Hooker, B. B. King, and T-Bone Walker, who he heard on American radio stations whose signals reached across the border. He crossed into the United States himself in 1961 and settled in San Francisco.

In 1966 he founded the Santana Blues Band; according to Santana, he was playing “blues, like everybody else,” but added Afro-Latin rhythms “so now the women could dance.” This was accomplished by adding two auxiliary percussionists dedicated to conga and timbales players to the standard rock drum kit. Though Afro-Cuban rhythms (often called the “Latin Tinge”) have played an important role in rock ‘n’ roll, they were mostly relegated to subtle accompaniments in a larger texture. Santana was one of the first artists to foreground Latin influences, along with jazz, soul, rock, and blues. His new, fresh sound was particularly welcomed by the burgeoning San Francisco music scene and his band made regular appearances at major clubs like the Winterland Ballroom and the Fillmore West.

Though popular in the Bay Area, he gained a nationwide audience after his electric, breakthrough performance at Woodstock. His set was so influential that within months most of the major rock bands in the country had added congas to their standard percussion battery. His eponymous debut album was released in October 1969 and by December it had gone gold; Santana remained on charts for two years and eventually sold upwards of 3 million copies. His follow-up, Abraxas, went gold in a matter of weeks.

A master collaborator, Santana was long willing to forgo commercial gains in order to explore new styles and influences. In the 1970s, he formed a long-standing partnership with John McLaughlin and became a central figure in jazz-rock fusion, recording with Wayne Shorter, Alice Coltrane, and Herbie Hancock. Though his albums received glowing reviews by jazz critics, they sold poorly. In the 1980s, he returned to a more rock-oriented style and revisited his blues and Latino roots; his 1983 album Havana Moon was produced by legendary R&B producer Jerry Wexler and included Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. and the MGs) and a Mariachi band. He also paid tribute to Richie Valens, the first Latino rock ‘n’ roll star, by doing music for the biopic La Bamba. Later in the decade, he began incorporating world music influences, collaborating with West African vocalists and Nigerian drummers.

Santana returned to the rock and pop charts in 1999 with Supernatural, an album that paired Santana with a number of younger artists, including Lauryn Hill, Everlast, and Dave Matthews. “Smooth,” a collaboration with Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty, topped the pop charts for twelve weeks (officially making it the last number-one single of the 1990s), and Supernatural went on to sell 15 million copies more than all of Santana’s other albums combined and won eight Grammy awards. His recent albums have been collaborative projects in a similar vein.

Carlos Santana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.


It’s all about the electric guitar – amazing solo work
Hammond organ sounds
Latin rhythm influences the groove
Form:  Make sure you read the paragraph on page 312.


What are some things in this recording that make it have a “Latin” feel?
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Listen to the recording of the tune by clicking the attached mp3 file.


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