A Song I Love – Europa – Santana

Wikipedia: In Greek mythology, Europa was the mother of King Minos of Crete, a woman with Phoenician origin of high lineage, and after whom the continent of Europe was named. The story of her abduction by Zeus in the form of a white bull was a Cretan story. Most of the love-stories concerning Zeus originated from more ancient tales describing his marriages with goddesses. This can especially be said of the story of Europa.

Carlos Santana is one of my favorite guitarists (and people.) The tone of his guitar is distinctive in that it takes but one or two notes to recognize it. I’ve written before about him and his band here and here and even here at Woodstock. You can talk about jam bands or blues bands and there’s a million of each. But how many Latin-rock bands are there?

In 1976, Santana released their seventh studio album, Amigos. By this time, the only remaining members of the Woodstock-era band were Carlos and bassist David Brown and this would be Brown’s last album with the band. (Sadly, Brown died in 2000 but lived long enough to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.)

Amigos contained their trademark sound while leaning into a trend Carlos had started toward more of a jazz/fusion thing, which was incredibly popular at the time. As to “Europa (Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile),” rumor has it that Carlos first wrote it for a girl who was on a bad mescaline trip. (Carlos himself, of course, had by now given up drugs.) He was assisted in writing the music by his keyboardist Tom Coster.

The melody in this song is, I think, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. The song starts off slow and then goes into a nice double-time feel. And Carlos’ guitar has sustain for the ages. Slow dance with your sweetie to this one:

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25 thoughts on “A Song I Love – Europa – Santana

  1. I completely agree with you, Jim. Santana truly has a signature sound you can pretty much recognize immediately. That in and if itself is remarkable, if you consider how many guitarists are out there!

    While I dig Samba Pa Ti even more, I also really like Europe and its beautiful soothing sound. I know this may surprise you somewhat, given my previously expressed fondness for vocals.

    It’s not that I don’t like instrumentals; in fact, a lot of the music by Pink Floyd is instrumental or has extended instrumental parts, and they are one of my all-time favorite bands. I think my primary challenge is with entire albums that are instrumental where after sometime I do miss vocals.

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    1. Samba Pa Ti is a GREAT song, maybe even better, certainly on a par. They both convey a different mood and it depends on how I feel to a certain extent. “Europa” is quite a bit more intense. I remember years ago a friend and I were backpacking around Europe. This was pre-portable music and we were dying to hear some. We found a record store where you could listen to stuff and I listened to this.

      I find, interestingly enough, that’s it very easy for me to listen to all-instrumental if it’s jazz or classical. In fact I vastly prefer instrumental jazz to vocal. But when I listen to say, post-rock, I’m dying to hear vocals.

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      1. I think you’re making an excellent point about expectations. While I admittedly very rarely listen to jazz or classical music, if I do, it doesn’t bother me that it’s all-instrumental because I kind of expect it the first place. With rock, blues and pop, on the other hand, it’s different.

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        1. Exactly. For me, just using Santana as an example, I love how they mix instrumentals with vocal stuff. Because they have chops and they can pull it off. The very first song on the Allmans debut album is an instrumental for the same reason. It’s a statement. I don’t expect a band like the Beatles or REM or certainly punkers to stretch out instrumentally and so there’s no expectation. But I love a band that can do that. But if I had gone to see, say, The Clash, I would have said Fuck it and done some stage-diving. 🙂

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  2. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but my initial listening experience was not a pleasant one. Those Smooth / Supernatural shenanigans really put me off and I’d managed to avoid anything Santana for nearly 20 years until a post over at Bruce’s place caught my attention. I picked up Abraxas and that was it. Hooked.

    This is quite good. I particularly love the fuzz in the guitar tone around the 4 minute mark as it gets more intense.

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    1. Wow, I loved “Supernatural” and “Smooth” in particular. I think it’s a great song and this is even after my having listened to Santana for years. But to each his own. “Europa’s” a great tune, very emotional I think, very romantic.

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      1. Maybe longtime fans have more patience for that kind of thing, but it genuinely bugged me. Maybe it’s because of the airplay it got… couldn’t escape it. But yeah, what floats one man’s boat may sink another another. Or something like that.

        Europa is good, though.

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        1. Yeah, it was overplayed for sure. I have ‘Smooth’ on my iPod when I work out but I sometimes skip it. When I’m into it, I’m into it. When not, not. I think, though, that Carlos tried to repeat that formula later with some Top 40 singer named Michelle Branch. Now that I thought was poppy and pretty awful.

          If you’re bored sometime, check out some of the albums adjacent to ‘Amigos.’ ‘Borboletta,’ ‘Welcome,’ Caravanserai,’ if you haven’t heard them. Carlos got superspiritual, it’s jazzier, more esoteric. And then he did stuff with John McLaughlin. All recognizably Carlos but worlds away from ‘Abraxas.’

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        2. I vaguely remember Michelle Branch, though I’m not quite sure what she’s done…

          Caravanserai has been recommended highly, but I haven’t really gotten around to listening to it yet. The only other one I have is Zebop! Which I like.

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        3. That’s a good tune, aye. From the Santana stuff I’ve heard, it seems like a more straight ahead pop rock record, but I do like it.

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  3. You know I’m a huge admirer of Carlos and yes this tune is a beauty. Never knew the trivia on being Brown’s last cut. I got hooked on Santana at the start (talk about long jams). Like a lot of artists I have lost touch with them. I did see a program a while ago where Peter Green joined Carlos on stage and it was very good.
    I do get J’s point. I came across a later album where it looks like the record company was cashing in on the ‘Supernatural’ thing. It certainly wasn’t what I expected. It even had that singer from my country doing a tune, you know the guy..Nickel…something.
    Bottom line I love CS and his music.

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    1. We saw Santana a couple years ago and while the band was great, there were sound problems. Carlos’ guitar wasn’t cutting through enough. I’d see him again in a heartbeat Totally unique .

      I wasn’t 100% sure what J’s point was. He talked about ‘shenanigans’ and ‘putting up with stuff.’ Maybe he’s referring to all those outside artists but I’m not a mind reader so I don’t know what he was talking about.

      Truthfully, in the pop world, you’ve got to reinvent yourself every few years or you disappear from view. So record exec Clive Davis convinced Carlos to work with newer artists. I don’t see that in and of itself as a bad thing as long as it’s not compromising the sound or integrity. I don’t feel that way at all about ‘Supernatural.’ I think it’s terrific and it just worked. Subsequent stuff, not so much.

      And yeah I saw a video of Santana and your countryman playing together on a roof. Carlos could have done the world a big favor by pushing that guy off.

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      1. That must of been the song on the album.that I listened to. Yeah I like the ‘Supernatural’ thing that’s why I listened to the follow up.
        Back to this song and all the stuff I dig. He is one of my faves but I do lean towards his earlier years and all his jazzier John Mac collaborations. You know I like all that Zappa etc guitar based music. With Carlos he was so damn proficient putting out so much good music. On his guest appearances I like him with Hooker on ‘The Healer’. I’d get off my ass to go see him. He might even do a duet with a different Canadian.

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        1. The thing about Carlos is his sound, like you were mentioning. I love it. That’s why songs like ‘Smooth’ grab mt ear. It just catches my ear when he cuts loose. I has no idea who the singer was (or is) but its the Santana sound that grabs me.
          We have a few rules around the CB house and one is certain kinds of music does not get played. I’m sure CD is a nice person but CB just doesn’t get the vibe Doc. Say no more.

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  4. Just one thought: regarding Christian’s aversion to all-instrumental music, I sort of understand him. Popular music has been dominated by music with singing since the Big Band days. I don’t know his age, but most (not all) younger listeners have been conditioned to expect vocals in music. I saw it with my kids, and with myself 40 years ago. I think instrumental music, whether it’s rock, jazz, classical, or avant-garde, is intimidating to these folks. But the more music you listen to, and especially the more TYPES of music, the more developed your ears become. At least, that’s my observation.

    (Coincidentally, Santana IV was on TV during the PBS pledge drive last night: much of the original band, with CS, Greg Rolie, Michael Shrieve, and Michael Carabello.)

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    1. I agree with that. It’s the rare few who get introduced to all-instrumental music as kids and develop a taste for that. As i think I mentioned in prior conversations, it wasn’t until I heard bands like Cream that I started to appreciate long-form jamming. And I’m sure that stuff that I listened to prior to that got me primed to listen. As a corollary to that, I realized a long time ago that while everybody likes music, the average music listener is nowhere near as discerning as zealots like us.

      And note, too, that Christian admitted to being into instrumental more than he let on or thought. His willingness to go see a “jam band” shows that our kid is growing up. 🙂

      PBS always drags out the classic rock bands for their pledge drives, reasoning, I guess, that we have all the money. I hope they endlessly rerun at as I’d love to see that. Shrieve is a great drummer.

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