Today, multi-Grammy Award-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Carlos Santana releases the third single off his star-studded, masterful new album, Blessings and Miracles (out via BMG on October 15), a collaboration with the legendary vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist, Grammy winner and BMI Icon Steve Winwood on the classic “Whiter Shade of Pale.”
Taking on a classic is sometimes risky, but Santana’s pairing with fellow legend Steve Winwood on the Procol Harum gem “A Whiter Shade of Pale” puts all fears to rest. It’s a resplendent, marvelously realized retelling, a nourishing hymn for the modern age, on which the two musical giants discover new pockets of beauty at every turn. As it was on the original, there’s an elegiac feel throughout, but there’s also a romantic element that never existed before. Winwood’s voice, a wondrously singular instrument, is stirring and deeply moving, and Santana channels Matthew Fisher’s original organ lines on guitar with reverence while putting his own unique stamp on the timeless melodies. With each passage, he lifts us higher and higher into bliss.
Santana recalls how he and Winwood were at a show in London’s Hyde Park, and he went up to him and suggested they record the song. “I said, ‘You and I have to do it, but we’re going to do it very sexy, like a Hare Krishna but with congas.’ I played the components in his ear, and he said, ‘I hear it, Carlos. You’re right.’ So that’s what we did – it’s Santana, Cuban, Puerto Rican in an African way. And man, you talk about sexy. Steve’s voice is so sexy and beautiful.”
Winwood says, “Carlos has been doing what I’ve been trying to do for the last fifty years, namely combining elements of rock, jazz, folk, and Latin Afro-Caribbean music. Carlos’ genius comes in large part from a wonderful combination of rock music with Latin-Cuban rhythms. I’ve played with Carlos on numerous occasions over the past fifty years and I’m very excited to be working with him again still.”