Thursday, October 6, 2011

Religion: Love, Devotion, and Surrender

Santana: Love, Devotion, and Surrender


We've had a lot of Christian music this week, so I thought I'd offer up something a little more universal by Latin-jazz-rock-fusion guitarist Carlos Santana. In the years before this release, he'd been making quite a musical splash, first in late-60s San Francisco, then at Woodstock (his blazing debut), and then worldwide. But around 1973 his music took a definite turn towards jazz fusion, a blend of jazz, funk, R&B, and rock heavily dosed with complicated time signatures. Miles Davis was at the forefront of jazz fusion, releasing in short order the groundbreaking albums Miles in the Sky (1968), In a Silent Way (1969) and Bitches Brew (1970). Some of the musicians on these LPs went on to further to fusion cause: Joe Zawinil and Wayne Shorter formed Weather Report, John McLaughlin formed the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea, Airto Moriera, and Flora Purim became Return to Forever, and Herbie Hancock formed Headhunters, among others. Some of these artists also show up in Santana's albums around this time, but John McLaughlin in particular is a prominent influence.

Just as music made dramatic changes in the late 60s, religious ideas became more diverse and took a pronounced turn eastward. Like many trends of the era, this started with the Beatles. In 1967, the Fab Four, along with a passel of other A-list celebrities (Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Cilla Black, Donovan, Mike Love of The Beach Boys, Mia Farrow, and flutist Paul Horn) became interested in an unknown Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and his technique of Transcendental Meditation. As you might expect, fascination with all things Indian---especially Indian mysticism--- soon followed.

By 1973 John McLaughlin was a member of the Self Realization Fellowship led by Indian-cum-American guru Sri Chinmoy, and he converted Carlos Santana and his drummer Michael Shrieve to the fellowship. Sri Chinmoy taught that rapid spiritual progress could be made with divine love, divine devotion and divine surrender, which gives us our title. McLaughlin and Santana released an album with this title several months prior, but this song is from the album Welcome. Vocalists are Santana, Wendy Hass, and Leon Thomas.

"We are all seekers, and our goal is the same: to achieve inner peace, light and joy, to become inseparably one with our Source, and to lead lives full of true satisfaction.” Sri Chinmoy

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