The Tao of Carlos

Getting spiritual with Carlos Santana

There were dueling events downtown last night on Broadway, and both of them were cool: At the Ace Theatre, there was a special screening of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice (complete with a line that wound around the corner). A little further down at the Orpheum Theatre, The Library Foundation threw one of its ALOUD events (a great series) featuring Cheech Marin in conversation with guitar legend Carlos Santana. I went the way of Marin/Santana and was privy to a discussion about the musician’s fascinating life and new memoir, The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light. It turned into a two-hour revival meeting, with Santana doling out spiritual advice as he answered questions from Marin and the audience (which included children from The Carlos Santana Arts Academy). He answered these questions mostly with his eyes closed. Brothers and sisters, behold the Tao of Carlos: nine quotes you could easily find on a motivational poster (or just tweet out on the reg).

“Cynicism is like cement. Nothing grows in cement.”

“Shakespeare said, ‘To be or not to be?’ Blues players don’t have the patience.”

“Am I Mexican or Chicano? I am all of them and none of them. I am a beam of light.”

“Guitar players that make the ugliest faces play the prettiest notes.”

“I started in ’67. Now I’m 67 and I’m still relevant.”

“I discovered a mantra: ‘God please help me. Help me stay in tune and in time and I’ll never do this again.’” (That happened at Woodstock after he took a tab of Mescaline from Jerry Garcia right before going onstage.)

“The universal tone is the frequency of light. It’s John Coltrane, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, me—it’s people like us.”

“I don’t like the song ‘Amazing Grace’ so much. It talks about ‘wretched sinners.’ Ain’t nothing wretched about me. I don’t want to identify with wretched anything.”

“God works in not mysterious ways. God works in very direct ways.”

And in answer to just about every question, he closed his eyes and replied, “Thank you for asking that.”

Everyone walked out onto Broadway clutching signed books to their chests. Many brought their divine lights to Umami Burger, where they received free fries with a valid ticket stub. Namaste, Brother Santana.