The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light

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Overview

The intimate and long-awaited autobiography of a legend

In 1967 in San Francisco, just a few weeks after the Summer of Love, a young Mexican guitarist took the stage at the Fillmore Auditorium and played a blistering solo that announced the arrival of a prodigious musical talent. Two years later -- after he played a historic set at Woodstock -- the world came to know the name Carlos Santana, his sensual and instantly recognizable guitar sound, and the legendary band that blended...

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The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light

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Overview

The intimate and long-awaited autobiography of a legend

In 1967 in San Francisco, just a few weeks after the Summer of Love, a young Mexican guitarist took the stage at the Fillmore Auditorium and played a blistering solo that announced the arrival of a prodigious musical talent. Two years later -- after he played a historic set at Woodstock -- the world came to know the name Carlos Santana, his sensual and instantly recognizable guitar sound, and the legendary band that blended electric blues, psychedelic rock, Latin rhythms, and modern jazz, and that still bears his name.

Carlos Santana's unforgettable memoir offers a page-turning tale of musical self-determination and inner self-discovery, with personal stories filled with colorful detail and life-affirming lessons. The Universal Tone traces his journey from his earliest days playing the strip bars in Tijuana while barely in his teens and brings to light the establishment of his signature guitar sound; his roles as husband, father, recording legend, and rock guitar star; his indebtedness to musical and spiritual influences -- from John Coltrane and John Lee Hooker to Miles Davis and Harry Belafonte; and his deep, lifelong dedication to a spiritual path that he developed from his Catholic upbringing, Eastern philosophies, and other mystical sources. It includes his recording some of the most popular and influential rock albums of all time, up to and beyond the 1999 sensation Supernatural, which garnered nine Grammy Awards and stands as arguably the most amazing career comeback in popular music history.

It's a profoundly inspiring tale of divine inspiration and musical fearlessness that does not balk at finding the humor in the world of high-flying fame, or at speaking plainly of Santana's personal revelations and the infinite possibility he sees in each person he meets. "Love is the light that is inside of all of us, everyone," he writes. "I salute the light that you are and that is inside your heart."

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Angelic guitarist Carlos Santana has sold 100 million records and experienced more musical and personal transformations than you can count; from a childhood of deprivation in Mexico to a dishwater job in hippie San Francisco to worldwide fame with all the attendant craziness. (He once ingested so much LSD that he became convinced that his guitar had turned into a snake.) In The Universal Tone, the now grateful and tranquil superstar shares his story for the first time in an autobiography that captures the zest of spirituality of his performances.

Publishers Weekly
10/13/2014
Although Santana first captivated the world at his Woodstock performance, his intimate relationship with his guitar had long sustained him. Now, for the first time, the elusive guitarist tells his story in prose that is by turns ragged and sparkling. As he does with his music, Santana uses words to paint pictures, describing the streets of his Mexican hometown of Autlán, his earliest gigs at the El Convoy bar in Tijuana, and his move to San Francisco as a teenager, where his career first took off, with the help of, among others, famous rock promoter Bill Graham. Santana also discusses the sexual abuse he suffered as a child, perpetrated by a neighbor, and his parents’ efforts to downplay the incident. He strikes the perfect chord when he traces his ongoing spiritual evolution, attributing his success and the beauty of his music to what he calls the “universal tone”: “The story behind the stories, the music behind the music.... With it you realize you are not alone; you are connected to everyone.” For him, it all comes back to the music: “It’s the fastest way of getting away from the darkness of ego.... It’s a blessing to be able to play from your soul and to reach many people.” (Nov.)
From the Publisher
One of NPR's Best Books of 2014

"One of the most articulate rock memoirs ever."—Chris Willman, San Francisco Chronicle

"With its deep insight into the Mexican musician who usually lets his music speak for itself, this book is a Carlos Santana fan's dream.... And his message seems to be as profound as the universe itself."—Felix Contreras, co-host of NPR's Alt.Latino, "NPR's Best Books of 2014"

"In this frank and impassioned memoir, iconic, influential musician Santana, 67, known for fusing rock and Latin rhythms, weaves together the rhythmic, domestic and spiritual dimensions of his career. Generously reflective and well-balanced.... Charismatic and soulful.... An appreciative and unpretentious chronicle, this is required reading for Santana fans and devotees of classic rock legends."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist's book is perhaps the most musically generous of the fall's memoirs. Santana doesn't pull punches...."—Brian Mansfield, USA Today

"Santana [writes] with the same searing intensity and blatant honesty displayed throughout his 45-year career in music.... The Universal Tone is a book examining a lifelong quest for knowledge and some sense of divinity... Santana deals with both in the same unflinchingly honest and dignified tone."—Jeff Miers, The Buffalo News

An "excellent new autobiography."—Jim Farber, New York Daily News

"A candid and stunning story.... Deeply honest and frank."—Robin Leach, Las Vegas Sun

"From Tijuana, Mexico to Woodstock and beyond, legendary guitarist Santana spins a freewheeling ballad of his remarkable life."—O, The Oprah Magazine

"The Universal Tone doesn't follow the usual well-trodden path of other rock star tell-alls... Santana sidesteps salaciousness for spirituality while taking readers through the touchstone moments of his remarkable life and career."

"A compelling and uplifting journey through his life and career."—Joe Bosso, Music Radar

"Entertaining and enlightening.... Santana's journey from obscurity and abject poverty to affluence and superstardom is expressed eloquently via an informal conversational style that captures the cadences of his speaking voice."—Charles Waring, MOJO Magazine

"Compelling."—Henry L. Carrigan Jr., BookPage

"Universal Tone is every bit as tantalizing, succulent, and satisfying as the cactus fruit, roasted peanuts, and carne asada the author savored as a boy. And the sense memories peppering its pages are as frequent and visceral as the notes comprising his best guitar solos. Carlos doesn't merely tell us about his past; he lets us hear, smell, and taste it, too."—Peter Roche, Cleveland Music Examiner

"Fun and funky, The Universal Tone traces the arc of a singular life-yielding life lessons and inspiration to any reader.... Deeply honest and frank and richly detailed with his vivid memories, Santana's authentic voice shines through on every page."—WTSP 10 News

"Passion, soul, and that elusive thing called sabor come through the music of Carlos Santana. His is always a surprising sound, ahead of its time -- true world music before the term was even invented, but uniquely American in its multicultural reach....Santana is an artist who transcends musical genres and touches the heart across all generations."—The Kennedy Center

"One of rock's true virtuosos and guiding lights."—Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

"A thread runs through his multicultural, crossgenerational music: the unifying power of the human spirit."—John Roos, Los Angeles Times

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-09-28
The Mexican-American classic guitar legend (and 2013 Kennedy Center honoree) shares his life before and beneath the rock 'n' roll spotlight with the assistance of Kahn (The House that Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records, 2006, etc.) and Miller. In this frank and impassioned memoir, iconic, influential musician Santana, 67, known for fusing rock and Latin rhythms, weaves together the rhythmic, domestic and spiritual dimensions of his career. A meager, rocky childhood was spent traversing southwestern Mexico to Tijuana and finally San Francisco, all while being greatly influenced by a disciplinarian mother and a romantic, violinist father who "lived to play, and he played to live…what musicians are meant to do." Generously reflective and well-balanced, Santana's memoir glides across autobiographical anecdotes of his joyful immersion in music theory and guitar lessons yet also addresses the intense, emotional pain and confusion of being molested as a boy. Santana's burgeoning career as a blues-appreciative guitarist bloomed through decades steeped in Bill Graham-produced shows at the legendary Fillmore venue, admiring Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, the Doors and the Grateful Dead, then into the psychedelic Summer of Love and the first formation of his Latin rock group Santana Blues Band in 1967. Complementing the uproarious stories of the band's tours are reflections on his personal life, his 34-year marriage and subsequent remarriage, and an exhaustive listing of his friendships with rock luminaries. Charismatic and soulful, Santana writes with the benefit of what he calls a "celestial memory," whereby only the blessings and beauty of life are measured and celebrated. Even readers skimming for tabloid dirt may be swayed by the respectful purity of Santana's recollections; his moments of struggle and frustration are handled with the same dignity and grace as his many triumphs. An appreciative and unpretentious chronicle, this is required reading for Santana fans and devotees of classic rock legends.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316244923
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 11/4/2014
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 9,321
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana was born in Mexico and is one of the most important rock musicians of our time. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 19, 2014

    There are 3 key take-aways from this book from my perspective: 1

    There are 3 key take-aways from this book from my perspective: 1) 'The Story': Carlos tells the story of his life in a way that brings all readers to a common understanding of how his career developed. I found the timelines and anecdotes highly illustrative and 'visual.' As a fan of 43 years I am no longer missing pieces of the story. Some gaps were filled in nicely for me; 2) 'The Influences': Carlos dedicates a large portion of his autobiography to his influences - be they musical (Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bob Marley, Gabor Szabo, etc.), professional (Bill Graham, Clive Davis, etc.), or personal (friends, family). There is a level of selflessness in this as many rock stars would shine the light solely on themselves. Carlos acknowledges that who he is today was largely influenced by others; 3) 'His spirituality': This is the differentiator. One can see the connection between the music and his divinity. There's a bigger purpose to what he does on stage and that story needed to be told. To know his music brings joy; to understand his spirituality brings enlightenment. I've seen Carlos 40 times in concert and am ready for #41 to be something special now that I've read The Universal Tone. And Carlos, there are congas in heaven.......

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2014

    Amazing

    The overview is right on. You can hear Carlos Santana's voice come through in every page you turn. The book is fantastic!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 20, 2015

    Fantastic read!!! As a long time fan of Carlos since Abraxas &a

    Fantastic read!!! As a long time fan of Carlos since Abraxas & follower of his musical & spiritual path I recommend this to anyone who loves Carlos solo or with every band he's had to date!! I felt as if I was on this journey with him. He's a national (Mexican-USA) treasure who became a global sensation with good reason. He has integrity & leaves no stone unturned in sharing his personal & musical life!! VIVA SANTANA!!! May he give us pleasure for years to come!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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