Earlier this week I was caught in an argument over whether Carlos Santana had ever written any good songs. He's played on them, for sure, just as he's played on a few that are so awful I can barely type the titles (see his biggst hit, or the Steven Tyler collaboration that came about 30 years too late). True, he's an excellent player, but most of his best songs, including "Oye Como Va," "Evil Ways," "Black Magic Woman" and "Jingo" were written by other people.
However, he did write my favorite song that he ever recorded, "Samba Pa Ti."
Does he even play this at shows anymore? Could he? It sounds naked next to anything from his Supernatural era. It's the kind of thing you'd hear an extra talented band play at a restaurant where you're the only one paying attention.
As of 1998, enjoying "Samba Pa Ti" meant liking one of Santana's biggest hits, but after watching him smother the last fifteen years of his music in inferior guest artists, it feels like being in on a secret. Give him all the hell you want for inviting Chad Kroeger into his discography, but few musicians have ever given the world anything as beautiful as this.