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The Tao of ‘Smooth,’ Rock’s Enduring, Inescapable Earworm

The Tao of ‘Smooth,’ Rock’s Enduring, Inescapable Earworm


“The topic endlessly hangs outdoors of time — it’s the lover and the beloved,” Santana mentioned in a cellphone interview from Las Vegas, the place he has a long-running residency at House of Blues. “Love is one thing we want lots on the radio. Everywhere you flip, there’s extra Exorcist motion pictures, extra Satan, extra Lucifer.”

The bioengineered music was written by a onetime acid jazz musician named Itaal Shur, however Santana didn’t just like the lyrics, so Thomas “acquired somewhat excessive,” he mentioned, and wrote new phrases and melodies. Then he and Shur reworked it, layering hook upon hook. Thomas has all the time mentioned he wrote “Smooth” about Marisol Maldonado, a Queens-born mannequin of Puerto Rican descent to whom he’s been married since 1999.

“There’s one thing magical about our relationship,” Thomas mentioned of his spouse throughout a energetic video interview from his house in Westchester County. “We consider ourselves as a terrific love story.”

But, Thomas revealed, he started the lyrics by writing not about Maldonado, however about Carlos Santana. Much of the refrain — “You’re so clean,” and “It’s similar to the ocean beneath the moon” — had been impressed by how he seen the guitarist. “That was all about Carlos. But I didn’t desire a music the place I’m singing to him, so I reframed it. ‘Smooth’ was written to place up a banner saying, ‘This is the love that I’ve.’”

Nearly each music on “Supernatural” was a guajira, an Afro-Cuban rhythm “put collectively to make lovers get it on,” Santana mentioned. “There’s nothing extra sensuous or scrumptious than a guajira. It drives ladies loopy.”

The association of “Smooth” consists of congas, timbales, a cowbell and a guiro, devices extensively related to Latin music. But Santana scoffed on the suggestion that the music has a Latin really feel: “‘Latin’ is a phrase that got here from Hollywood, for Latin lovers like Fernando Lamas and Cesar Romero. It’s simply African rhythms. My music is 90 % African.”

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