The Story of “Smooth”

Remember “Smooth,” the Santana–Rob Thomas megahit from twenty years ago? Rolling Stone has a fabulous article out today recounting how this unlikely collaboration between artists of such different musical genres and generations came about to result in the classic single that still gets radio play today and sounds as fresh as it did in 1999.

The article is titled an “oral history,” and it really is just that. Mini-interview recollections from all the major players alternate throughout the piece, each picking up the story’s thread at the spots where others leave off. I love hearing about the background involved in any artwork’s creative process; learning about all the moving parts and all the personalities and chance remarks and serendipities and near misses provides a much deeper appreciation for the finished result.

Record-industry legend Clive Davis is at the center of this hit, and by that I mean that he was sort of a locus or fulcrum that acted as the centering force and balance for the many creative activities conducted by multiple people that were needed to make this single happen. I’ve written about Davis before (“Thoughts on Patti Smith” and my post on the 1970 Oscars show are the only times I can recall off the top of my head) and remain in awe of his instincts. Of his genius! Davis understands music and people in a way that is absolutely uncanny.

You can link to that Rolling Stone “Smooth” article HERE. It’s kind of long, but definitely worth the time to read.

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
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