'Celestial amnesia': Carlos Santana talks about remaining grounded after all these years

Carlos Santana has had his share of accolades, fame and fortune. Since his explosive debut more than four decades ago, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has sold some 90 million records and earned 10 Grammys — including a record-tying nine for a single album, 1999′s album of the year Supernatural.

Up next is Shapeshifter, Santana’s 36th record. An almost all-instrumental project recorded between the late 1990s and today, it will be issued May 15, 2012, on his new label Starfaith Records. Santana says he’s been stashing away the tunes, and working on the album’s sequencing, for more than a decade.

With 2010′s Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time­, Santana joined the Rolling Stones as one of only two bands in history to score at least one Billboard Top Ten album in each decade from the 1960s forward. More recently, he made a triumphal appearance on recently ABC’s hit reality series “Dancing with the Stars,” drawing standing ovations.

So how does Carlos Santana stay grounded?

“I like being a person and not always a persona — feeding a persona is exhausting, and you end up smelling funny,” Santana tells Spinner, and laughs. “True! Being a full-time musical persona is a lot of work, man. And so it’s important to get off that stage and be just a person at home. That separation, for me, is the key to survival.”

These lessons, Santana insists, have been taught over and over in the history of rock music. And he’s paid close attention, staying focused not on the fame but on the next project.

“I have what I call ‘celestial amnesia’: I have no concept of yesterday,” Santana said. “I look around here in my office with the Grammys and other trophies. I’m grateful — but grateful they’re not at my house. There is nothing at my house related to my career. That’s a must, that I see nothing to remind me of the personality that I am. That hurt Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye. You have know when to get off the stage.”

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Santana. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

SANTANA – GREATEST HITS: LIVE AT MONTREUX (2012): His sound is so crystalline, so special, that Carlos Santana remains recognizable with or without pictures. Yet for all of the accolades showered on this Mexican-born American guitar hero, not least of which is his inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Santana has always been as bold and colorful as he is collaboratively brilliant. Greatest Hits: Live at Montreux, filmed last summer, tends to underscore how these intersections have come to define his band — and, in some cases, how dearly collaborative voices like Gregg Rolie’s are missed.

SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: GREGG ROLIE, FOUNDING MEMBER OF SANTANA AND JOURNEY: Gregg Rolie, a 1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, has learned a lot about himself since taking fame’s exit ramp to start a family almost 30 years ago. He’s put into perspective the work done as a founding member of Santana, a stint that saw Rolie co-produce the group’s first four albums beginning in 1969. The bluesy B-3 stylist then added to an overstuffed resume that already included an appearance at Woodstock, leaving with Neal Schon to launch Journey. There, he helped craft a series of 1970s recordings that set the stage for that band’s arena-rock supernova moment in the 1980s.

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Here’s the tracklisting for Carlos Santana’s 2012 release ‘Shape Shifter’:
1. Shape Shifter
2. Dom
3. Nomad
4. Metatron
5. Angelica Faith
6. Never The Same Again
7. In The Light of a New Day
8. Spark of the Divine
9. Macumba In Budapest
10. Mr. Szabo
11. Erez La Luz
12. Canula
13. Ah, Sweet Dancer

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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