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Also, North Carolina A&T golf, Shirley Manson, and a few notes on bravery
STICK TO THE GRAMMY-WINNING HIT SINGLE “SMOOTH” BY SANTANA FEATURING ROB THOMAS OF MATCHBOX 20
Longtime friends undoubtedly know that my favorite song of all time is 1999’s Grammy-winning hit single “Smooth” by Santana, featuring Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20. It’s my favorite for a lot of reasons — some of them sincere, some of them assuredly not — but it was a massive, enduring success, especially at a time when “what if Carlos Santana does a crossover album with a bunch of popular artists” was little more than a record company’s bizarre fantasy.
Lo and behold, Rob Thomas and his dragon shirt growled his way through Spanish Harlem and into America’s hearts with this crossover jam, staying atop the Billboard charts for 12 weeks (!), even straddling the new year as the perfect jam to usher in the Y2K era.
All in all, the song spent 58 weeks in the Billboard Top 100 charts, a feat that eventually led Billboard to declare it the #2 most successful song EVER in its 60-year history, topped only by Chubby Checker’s “The Twist,” a song which said nothing about hot ones and distance from the midday sun. A travesty? You be the judge.
What you might not be aware of is that Santana made more crossover albums after Supernatural… to considerably less commercial and critical acclaim.
The nadir of the movement came on 2007’s Ultimate Santana quasi-compilation album, where Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler joined the guitar virtuoso for a cookie-cutter rock song with a horrific music video — not only are Tyler and Santana teaming up to perform in front of an active crime scene in the thumbnail below, but it’s mayyyyyybe the third-most objectionable part of the video? If you’ve never watched this before, um, buckle up.
Obviously, something had to change. The people demanded it. The lightning had to go back in the bottle.
And thus: earlier this week, Carlos Santana announced a new album called Blessings and Miracles for an October release… featuring a NEW SONG WITH ROB THOMAS.
First “Smooth,” now “Move.” It almost rhymes!
Carlos Santana is not a cruel man — nobody’s ever accused him of that, to my knowledge — and in his typically generous spirit, instead of waiting until the album release in October, they’re releasing “Move” as a single next week: August 18, 2021.
Ladies, gentlemen, scoundrels and everyone in-between: I need this.
There’s a deep, pervasive silliness to “Smooth,” but unintentionally so, the type of everyone-is-allowed-to-do-anything earnestness that typifies those few years prior to 9/11, the ditch America still has yet to get towed out of. I mean my goodness, there isn’t a fascist to be found in the entire “Smooth” video. Weren’t those the days?
If “Move” brings that exact same energy, it’ll definitely feel out of place in today’s world — but it’ll feel familiar, y’know? A well-timed salvo of nostalgia, or so I hope.
Also, I just want to be clear: this new song might be awful. Legitimately terrible. But even if it is, just like Guy Fieri’s ill-fated Times Square restaurant, it’s not something that tarnishes the legacy of what made them great in the first place. Cynicism is overrated; trying and failing is a thousand times cooler.
And if the new song is good, good on its own merits, good enough to stand alongside Smooth? Boy howdy, we just might have gold struck twice, 22 years apart. I’m telling you, either way, I need this.
What should be the iconic first line of “Move” and why is it “Man it’s a hotter one”? Please comment below.
STICK TO GOLF
J.R. Smith is a two-time NBA champion. J.R. Smith is one of the most underrated dunkers in league history. J.R. Smith doesn’t wear shirts if he doesn’t have to. And now J.R. Smith might revolutionize collegiate golf.
Smith, 35, joined the NBA straight out of high school in the 2004 NBA Draft en route to a 17-year career that ended with the Lakers’ title in 2020. There was the one time he forgot the score, yes. That was a bad idea. But overall he’s one of the true successes of the HS-to-NBA era and he’s got $90m of career earnings to show for it.
Now that he’s retired from professional basketball, Smith has enrolled at the historically Black university North Carolina A&T, majoring in liberal arts and petitioning the NCAA to allow him to join the school’s golf program. Smith already plays with a 5 handicap, according to ESPN, and presumably his NCAA amateur status (at least in golf) should still be intact.
The Sports Take Industry has already weighed in plenty about this, no need to link or rehash any of that mess (now, and usually ever). All I’ll say is that a pretty good test of character is “what do you do with what you have, and for whom,” and if Swish wants to get his education and breathe some competition and visibility into golf as a destination sport at HBCUs, that’s a mighty cool thing to do. I wish him as much, if not more success in this go-round as with his NBA career, and I hope you’ll do the same.
STICK TO GARBAGE
Shirley Manson. Lorrrrrrrrd.
Subscribe now or Shirley won’t ever love me back!
STICK TO AFFIRMATIONS
Thanks for joining me today. We’ll always end on a kind word.
“Brave” is a loaded word for adults, isn’t it? It seems like it’s either applied for pulling someone out of a burning car, or for children who are doing things like getting the training wheels off their bike. Not a whole lot of inbetween, so if you haven’t done the former and someone calls you “brave,” it can feel like they’re praising you for, like, going down the big slide without a parent holding your hand.
And that’s a shame, because adults miss opportunities for emotional bravery all the time (your author included, just to be clear). Taking responsibility of a situation that could otherwise fall unfairly onto someone else, asking for help on something big or small, making responsible public health decisions at the expense of some momentary comfort — these are brave things, and they’re commendable.
Anybody can be brave, especially you. Even if it’s unfair that you’re in a certain situation to begin with, even if others sit idly by while bad turns to worse, even if there’ll never be anyone to notice the difference between you doing something selfless instead of self-interested — you can be brave. And it feels better than the alternative when you are. Find a way to practice that bravery; you’ll be glad you did, and I’ll be proud of you for it.