Variations On The Carlos Santana Secret Interview

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By Douglas J Noble
T'Mershi Duween, #42, January 1995


On September 15 1994, Douglas J Noble interviewed Carlos Santana for The Guitar Magazine, and sent us a couple of Zappa related bits which didn't make the finished article.

There's a Frank Zappa instrumental called 'Variations On The Carlos Santana Secret Chord Progression'. Have you heard it?
Oh yes. I've heard it and I laughed my butt off, you know. I thought it was really funny. I met him a couple of times and I was always in awe of his mind. I think his mind, much like Prince, is pretty amazing. I thought it was in good fun. I believe on the same record he made fun of Bob Dylan (presumably a reference to 'Flakes'), so I was just really grateful to be in the company of Bob Dylan and Frank Zappa.

As far as the other kind of stuff, it is true that I'm very limited on the harmony chord texture but at the same time, I'm very grateful that I get to play with John Lee Hooker and Wayne Shorter. I used to be harder on myself for not knowing the things that other people know. Then again, I feel things Frank Zappa could never feel, so I think it's pretty even Stevens. I was sad when he left because I think we need forces like him to show us and share with us Mozart-like operas and Mozart-like involved muscle intellect (laughs).

That's the only way I can put it – 'muscle intellect'. I still gravitate basically towards John Lee Hooker. I'm not a complex person as he put it in the 'Variations of Santana Chords' [sic]. I'm not a complicated person and to me, it's like I try to feel my heart and I try to touch yours. That's it! When I first heard the piece, it did disturb me. I felt like it was a put-down, you know. But after a while, I said 'you know, if he feels like that about it, then I'm still complimented I'm on the same record with Bob Dylan ... (even though he isn't -Ed)

You and Frank Zappa have both talked in the past about the difference between 'freaks' and 'hippies'. Is that something you can still see today'?
I still see the same thing, you know. To me, the hippies, the real hippies. always had a subtle smile that said 'Let's do something good for the highest good of all people'. And the squares always said 'What's in it for me?' And it doesn't matter whether you smoke pot or not. I mean a hip is a hipper and a square's a square.

(Douglas J Noble also writes for UniVibes, one of the Hendrix mags, a very serious trainspotter publication, down to the all embracingly important questions like Did Hendrix wear this hat/jacked/ear-ring at this gig? I promise TD won't become so exciting. Still, UniVibes is a goodly little mag, and they do put out various official Hendrix CDs from time to time, so drop them a line for subscription information. UniVibes, Coppeen, Enniskeane, Co Cork, Ireland.)