Monday, December 27, 2010

Smooth by Santana ft. Rob Thomas

Winter has come to Chicago and that means that it is cold. How cold? Well, this morning when I walked Buffy is was 18 degrees. It’s warmer in Moscow, Russia at 25 degrees. Seriously, it’s warmer in RUSSIA than in Chicago. And last week, it was warmer at the North Pole than it was in the Windy City.

After living in Chicago for 10 years I’ve  tried many different approaches to dealing with the cold weather. Some people think you need to “thicken your blood” and spend time outside without tons of layers to get used to it. Yeah, that doesn’t work. There’s eating winter foods like stews which I enjoy.  While that makes you feel better when you come inside you are still really cold when you are outside. My current strategy is to simply bundle up like crazy. Basically if the temperature goes below 30, I break out the snow pants, fleece, winter jacket, scarf, hat, gloves AND turn the car heater on full blast.

This other day sitting in my car praying it would warm up quicker I came up with a new idea: listen to the hottest song I could think of and the first song that came to mind was “Smooth.”

Satana’s Supernatural album, transformed him from the legendary guitarist who performed at the original Woodstock to a present and active musical force. This album full of duets with various artists reintroduced Santana into mainstream American culture. “Smooth” which featured Rob Thomas working off of Matchbox 20 fame exploded reminding us of the astonishing skill of Santana but how unbelievably powerful Latin inspired music could be.

“Smooth” is evidence of my thesis that no synthesized groove can feel as good as capturing live performers. The rhythm section combined with the bass line and horns create a relaxed, saucy and slightly sinful groove. The feel perfectly captures the feeling of a hot summer day, I’m not quite sure how but it’s undeniable.

Rob Thomas uses the dark edges of his voice to caress the lyrics. There is attitude, desperation and longing that is slathered throughout the vocals as Thomas describes an irresistible woman.

Then there’s Carlos Santana who really turns up the heat. As impressive as the fast notes he plays are it’s the way he sustains his notes that is awe-inspiring. The guitar is an instrument which has a tone that defined by an attack and a quick decay in the sound. Yeah, Satana’s long notes, don’t really do that. They magically melt away and then grow. Great guitar solos aren’t so much about what you play but how you play it and Carlos Santana could play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and I swear it would be the most amazing thing you had ever heard.

Did listening to “Smooth” make me feel warmer? Well it did get me to dance in my car on the way to work and for a couple minutes it didn't seem so cold.  Though that was probably due to the car heating up and the fact that I was still wearing all my winter gear. . .

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