“Black Magic Woman” is a song written by Peter Green that first appeared as a Fleetwood Mac single in various countries in 1968, subsequently appearing on the 1969 Fleetwood Mac compilation albums English Rose (US) and The Pious Bird of Good Omen (UK), as well as Vintage Years. In 1970, it became a hit by Santana, as sung by Gregg Rolie, reaching No. 4 in the US and Canadian charts, after appearing on their Abraxas album. In 2005 the song was covered by ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Snowy White on his album The Way It Is. In 1996, the song was also covered by Gary Hoey on his album Bug Alley.
Santana’s version, recorded in 1970, is a medley with Gábor Szabó’s 1966 instrumental “Gypsy Queen”, a mix of jazz, Hungarian folk and Latin rhythms. The song became one of Santana’s staples and one of their biggest hits, with the single reaching number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1971. Abraxas reached number one on the charts and hit quadruple platinum in 1986, partially thanks to “Black Magic Woman”.
“Gypsy Queen” was omitted from 1974’s Santana’s Greatest Hits album, even though radio stations usually play “Black Magic Woman” and “Gypsy Queen” as one song.
While the song follows the same general structure of Peter Green’s version, also set in common time, in D minor and using the same melody and lyrics, it is considerably different, with a slightly altered chord pattern (Dm7– Am7–Dm7–Gm7–Dm7–Am7–Dm7), occasionally mixing between the Dorian and Aeolian modes, especially in the song’s intro. A curious blend of blues, rock, jazz, 3/2 Afro-Cuban son clave, and “Latin” polyrhythms, Santana’s arrangement added conga, timbales, and another percussion, in addition to organ and piano, to make complex polyrhythms that give the song a “voodoo” feel distinct from the original.
The introduction of the song, which was adapted from Szabó’s “Gypsy Queen”, consists of simple hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides on the guitar and bass, before moving into the introductory guitar solo of “Black Magic Woman.” After the introductory solo, which follows the same chord progression as the verse, the song moves into an eight-bar piano solo on D minor and proceeds to two verses sung by keyboardist Gregg Rolie. Two verses of guitar solo follow the two sung verses, which are then succeeded by another verse, before moving into a modified version of the “Gypsy Queen” section from the beginning of the song to end the piece.
There is also a single edit that runs for 3:15. On some radio versions, the piano solo is omitted, and “Gypsy Queen” is sometimes omitted. Other longer versions have since been released, including one which runs for 8:56.
“Oye Como Va” is a song written by Latin jazz and mambo musician Tito Puente in 1963. Mexican-American rock group Santana’s rendition further popularized the song, which reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 11 on the Billboard Easy Listening survey, and number 32 on the R&B chart.
The fact that the phrase “Oye como va” is the title of the song and is sung somewhat separately from the phrase “mi ritmo” makes it easy to interpret the meaning as “Hey, how’s it going?” However, the first sentence is actually “Oye como va mi ritmo”, meaning “Listen to how my rhythm goes.”
The song has the classic rhythm and tempo of cha-cha-cha. It has similarities with “Chanchullo” by Israel “Cachao” López. The Latin Beat Magazine writes, “Cachao’s tumbaos for his 1937 composition of Rareza de Melitón (later changed to Chanchullo) inspired Tito Puente’s signature tune ‘Oye Como Va’. On the original recording of the song the voice of Santitos Colon, the Puente orchestra singer at the time, can be heard in the song along with those of Puente and other orchestra musicians. Cachao can be heard playing contrabass in some of Tito Puente’s live versions of “Oye Como Va”.
The song has had many arrangements and remakes by a number of artists in various tempi. NPR included the song in its “NPR 100: The most important American musical works of the 20th century”.
Santana’s arrangement is a “driving, cranked-up version” in a new style of Latin rock (attributed to musicians like Santana), adding electric guitar, Hammond B-3 organ, and a rock drum kit to the instrumentation and dropping Puente’s brass section. The electric guitar part takes on Puente’s flute melody, and the organ provides accompaniment (with organist Gregg Rolie’s discretional use of the Leslie effect). There are several guitar solos and an organ solo, all of which are rooted in rock and the blues but also contain licks similar to those of the original arrangement. The song was inducted into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001.
Tito Puente, speaking in the intro to his recording of “Oye Como Va” on the album “Mambo Birdland,” said “Everybody’s heard of Santana. Santana! Beautiful Santana! He put our music, Latin rock, around the world, man! And I’d like to thank him publicly ’cause he recorded a tune and he gave me credit as the composer of the tune. So, since that day… all we play… is Santana music!” The version of the song on “Mambo Birdland” is a Santana-ized version.
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