THE UNIVERSAL TONE, by Carlos Santana (Little, Brown; November 4, 2014), is not just the history of a rock band that sold millions of albums. It is the story, 67 years in the making, of an individual who is ceaselessly creative, spiritually focused, and yet fearlessly part of a world that brought him fame and adulation and challenged his dedication to his music and to doing good. Santana’s memoir is filled with finely recalled historic detail and visceral storytelling, beginning with his humble childhood in Mexico—one can smell the savory food of his early youth in Autlán, where he grew up the son of a violin player, feel the distinctive atmosphere of the El Convoy bar in Tijuana, where he played when he was just a teenager.
Also here are Santana’s recollections of his emergence in the 1960s rock underground scene as a young adult after he moved to San Francisco. He goes on to tell of his explosive later career success, and of reaching a new generation with the epic album Supernatural. Fun and funky, THE UNIVERSAL TONE traces the arc of a singular life, yielding life lessons and inspiration for any reader—and especially the millions worldwide who count themselves as Santana devotees.
Deeply honest and frank, Santana’s authentic voice shines through on every page. From imagining the wisps of smoke from a long-gone Miles Davis before a Santana show, to his hazy experience at Woodstock and first world tour, to his influences from Latin, jazz, rock, and blues musicians and his ongoing spiritual evolution, Santana describes the depth of his connection to sound and his belief in the “universal tone”—how music and soul are interconnected.
Santana's story speaks to 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.”