In an era of suicide bombers and beltway snipers, Carlos Santana hopes to make a difference, converting all the rage into positive, flowing energy.
"There's a lot of sickness in this planet, especially with people shooting one another for no reason," Santana said. "There's anger, fear and molestation. There's so much sickness [that] I want to remind listeners that ... everyone has goodness in them. And to me it's important to heal as much as possible families, cities or nations or the planet from the satanic, demonic forces that are out there that just like to destroy humanity."
Santana's quest for universal spiritual cleansing inspired him to call his new album Shaman. His multiplatinum Supernatural (2000) was a call to recognize and seek strength from higher, ethereal forces, and Shaman is a plea to use those powers to benefit mankind.
"The Shaman is a spiritual healer, and we all have that quality within ourselves," he said. "The music [on Shaman] wasn't about Carlos' shaman. Everyone has divine qualities to be able to heal and transform anyone. Once you believe, the rest will follow."
Like Supernatural, Shaman features a diverse list of guests, including Michelle Branch (see "Santana Says Angels Recommended Michelle Branch For Song"), Seal, Macy Gray, Musiq, Dido and opera legend Placido Domingo (see "Musiq, More Added To Final Santana Track List").
One of the most unusual pairings is with "P.O.D." on the song "America," which may be a future single. The song was written by K.C. Porter, but when it was sent to P.O.D., the bandmembers radically reinterpreted it.
"When they heard it they said, 'Well, we'll do our own version,' " Santana explained. "So their version was totally different. I enjoy Rage Against the Machine, I enjoy Metallica, so therefore I enjoy the energy P.O.D. brings to the table. I love the song. I especially love the energy, and I felt we needed that kind of energy."
Another track, "Why Don't You & I," features Nickelback's Chad Kroeger, who wrote the tune. Between the writing and recording stages, however, the track went through the opposite process as P.O.D.'s tune. When Santana was handed the track, he wasn't sure he liked it.
"When I first heard it, it was a little far away from things I like to do. So we brought it to [producer and arranger] Lester Mendez, and he [deserves] the Most Valuable Player award. He put in a context that was more Santana-like. He brought it closer to our camp, and I love that kind of energy [it now has]."
Santana probably won't tour the globe with all his guests, but one place he'd love to play is Baghdad. It's all part of his plan to unify the planet.
"I look forward to going there to play a concert if they invite me, because I feel musicians should not get involved with politics but should get involved with bringing healing and harmony," he said. "I know in my heart that politics and religion are corrupt, and that's the problem. Their problems and our problems are the same. Everyone has the same problems, but what we like to do with the music is to solve problems and bring unity and harmony."
And just how can duets with Michelle Branch and P.O.D. transform the globe? Carlos was just waiting for someone to ask.
"We play this music to remind listeners all the over the world that the constellation, the planet, the whole vibe is in you and there's another way to get solutions in this planet other than more violence. We should do concerts over there and show them that we can coexist. I want to be like President Carter. He got the Nobel Peace prize."