So there was some discussion amongst my blogging mates about what would be the perfect song to be played at your funeral. That was really easy for me to state, I have – for the better part of my life – felt that there is only one song that when my friends and family heard it on the radio, it would bring a smile to their face and have thoughts of our relationship. That song for me is “Samba Pa Ti” by Santana.
“Samba Pa Ti” was written by Carlos Santana and performed on the 1970 Abraxas album. It is one of the 26 songs included in Nick Hornby’s Songbook (31 Songs in the U.K.). To me, it’s simple; this song “Samba Pa Ti” drags the listener through a slew of emotions with simple melodic lines and delightfully enticing musical interplay.
The first 50 seconds grabs the listener and fills the ears with this sad and soulful melody line played by Carlos. It is underscored brilliantly by Gregg Rolie’s Hammond B-3 organ, Chepito Areas’ and Mike Carabello’s simple conga backdrop. The song starts with Carlos’ guitar bringing everyone else in after 2 seconds, 18 seconds in he repeats this line to draw the listener in a little as though he has something tender and beautiful to say. At 24 seconds, Carlos lets out a cry from his guitar that slightly expresses the sorrow in his heart.
He begins to repeat himself at 50 seconds and by this time the listener is on the edge of their seat waiting for the crushing blow of sadness from his guitar. At 1:12, he barks out a a cry that makes you the listener clutch at you own heart. He begins to hasten the pace of his story. At 1:35, Rolie’s Hammond screams out to Carlos’ guitar in effort to pull him up and tell him that it will all be better. The interplay here between Rolie’s organ and Carlos’ guitar is not just soulful but it is a musical interplay that resembles that of a loving relationship. The pain of one can be vanquished by the enveloping love of another. You can hear the anguish in the notes dripping out of Carlos’ amp, the blanketing warmth of Rolie’s organ pouring out of the rotating Leslie speakers. The organ actually lifts the guitar.
At 2:02, the bottom drops out of the support and you quickly hear a lightness in the notes of the melody. It reminds me of a bird learning to fly on it’s own for the first time. There in the nest one moment; then realizing that it is flying without that support underneath it. Loving the freedom, loving the feeling of flying. At 2:22, the melody changes completely to be elegantly cheerful and continues throughout. Dipping in out of powerlines and doing fly-bys on neighboring windows. Spinning in the loop de loop.
Beauty and blissful joy because in the end it will all be fine and if not, then it isn’t the end.