Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Still Reading: The Universal Tone by Carlos Santana

Santana - The Universal ToneContinuing from my previous blog post on Carlos Santana's autobiography, The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story To Light....

From Chapter 7:
...I had been so excited to see [B. B. King] for the first time in February of 1967. Finally, the teacher I had started with and kept coming back to was coming to the Fillmore! The first time I had heard his music was in Tijuana at Javier's house—all those LPs on the Kent and Crown labels.
B. B. was the headliner after Otis Rush and Steve Miller. Another great triple bill. I was there for the opening night. Steve was great, Otis was incredible, and then it was B. B.'s band onstage, vamping. (Later on, I learned what his close friends call him—just B.—but in my mind he will always be Mr. King.) Then B. walked onstage, and Bill Graham went up to the mike to introduce him: "Ladies and gentlemen, the chairman of the board—Mr. B. B. King!"
It was like it had all been planned to build up to this. Everything just stopped, and everyone stood up and applauded. For a long time. B. hadn't even hit a note yet, and he was getting a standing ovation. Then he started crying.
He couldn't hold it in. The light was hitting him in such a way that all I could see were big tears coming out of his eyes, shining on his black skin. He raised his hand to wipe his eyes, and I saw he was wearing a big ring on his finger that spelled out his name in diamonds. That's what I remember most—diamonds and tears, sparkling together. I said to myself, "Man, that's what I want. This is what it is to be adored if you do it right."
Gregg, Carabello and I saw B. in concert when he came back in December of '67, and I was able to study him almost in slo-mo, waiting for him to hit those long notes of his. I was thinking, "Okay, here it comes—he's going to go for it. There it is. That note just freaked out everybody in the place, man." People were in the hallelujah camp. I noticed that just before he would hit a long note, B. would scrunch up his face and body, and I knew he was going to a place inside himself, in his heart, where something moved him so deeply that it was not about the guitar or the string anymore. He got inside the note. And I thought, "How can I get to that place?"

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