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Carlos Santana performs at the Milano Summer Festival in 2018. / Photo by Roberto Finizio

For Carlos Santana, life is about light and energy and giving and receiving happiness. It's not only how he tries to live his life, it's how he has approached his music, whether he's always known that or not.

Going back through his catalog while putting together "Splendiferous," a collection of re-recorded songs by his band, Santana, he says he discovered something about his music that somewhat caught him off-guard.

"To my surprise, Santana has always been bringing hope and healing since the beginning," he says.

"But I did know I wanted the album to follow a sequence of mounting energy," he explains. "Some people squirm when I say what the goal was, but there is physical and spiritual energy — or spiritual orgasms, I say. People say, 'Oh, my God, that word. What's wrong with that word? An orgasm is a gift."

Listed at No. 20 on Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists, Santana says music should ignite such powerful emotions and feelings in people. He laments that some of the music he hears on the radio has had the life sucked out of it.

"I call it music for cadavers," he says. "What? I'm not dead. Let's get activated."

Santana, whose band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, says he takes his own words to heart, choosing to challenge himself with each performance to see exactly where the music might take him.

If you go

* What: Santana in concert

* When: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28

* Where: Memorial Auditorium 399 McCallie Ave.

* Admission: $65-$250

* Phone: 423-757-5580

* Website: tivolichattanooga.com

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Musician and songwriter Carlos Santana waits to pose for a group photo with the other four recipients of the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors following a dinner hosted by United States Secretary of State John F. Kerry at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, December 7, 2013. (Pool photo by Ron Sachs/Abaca Press/MCT)

"I equate myself to those monks who light themselves on fire, so the bigger the flame, the more people who will come to see us," he says.

"Once I learned that energy can't be killed — it is just transformed — I became fearless and realized it's about having fun and not having to worry about someone else's approval."

Like a lot of people during the pandemic, Santana says he kept to himself with family and close friends. He spent the time evaluating what was important and, of course, playing music.

"It really crystallized what we were going to do with the rest of our lives," he says. "We got to reinvent ourselves. It was fun learning to every day be somebody new, like a snake shedding its skin and trying not to be a slave to past habits. So, for us, it was fun."

Asked if he ever surprises himself on stage, he laughs and says, "Oh yeah. Two years ago in New Jersey, I had this craving for something I haven't wanted since I was about 12. A banana split. I had a friend find one for me, and I ate it all up.

"That night on stage, the energy and the music just kept mounting to a whole 'nother level. I don't know if it was the sugar or what, but it was this event where, like, you have this big bonfire. I'm not saying everybody should have a banana split, but it worked for me."

He doesn't listen to the naysayers, he says, describing them as the kind of people who tell children not to splash in the bathtub.

"It should be fun," he says. "Whatever you do in life, keep splashing."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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**FILE** Musician Carlos Santana sticks out his tongue while performing at Pine Knob Music Theater in Clarkston, Mich., Saturday, June 12, 1999. (AP Photo/Paul Warner, File)
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