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"Black Magic Woman"
Single by Fleetwood Mac
from the album English Rose
Released 1968
Format 7" single
Recorded February 1968
Genre Blues-rock
Length 2:48
Label Blue Horizon
57-3138 (UK)
Epic
5-10351 (USA)
Fleetwood Mac singles chronology
"I Believe My Time Ain't Long"
(1967 UK)

"Shake Your Moneymaker"
(1968 Germany)
"Black Magic Woman"
(1968)
"Need Your Love So Bad"
(1968)

"Black Magic Woman" is a song written by Peter Green that first appeared as a Fleetwood Mac single in various countries in 1968, subsequently appearing on the 1969 Fleetwood Mac compilation albums English Rose (US) and The Pious Bird of Good Omen (UK). It became a classic hit by Santana and sung by Gregg Rolie in 1970, reaching #4 in the U.S. and Canadian charts, after appearing on their Abraxas album, becoming more closely associated with Santana than Fleetwood Mac. In 2005 the song was covered by ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Snowy White on his album The Way It Is. In 1996 the song was also covered by Gary Hoey on his album Bug Alley .

Contents

Fleetwood Mac version

Although not nearly as popular as Santana's arrangement two years later, "Black Magic Woman" nevertheless became a fairly popular blues-rock hit peaking at #37 in the UK Singles Chart. It was featured in Fleetwood Mac live set-lists even after Green had left the band, when it was often sung by Danny Kirwan, and during concerts in the early 1970s it would form the basis for long mid-concert jams. The song would often be preceded by a band member reminding the audience that it was a Fleetwood Mac song before it became such a big hit for Santana.

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Structure

Set in the key of D minor, the verse follows a twelve bar chord progression alternating between D minor7, A minor7, and G minor7, and the instrumentation consists of vocals, two guitars, bass guitar and drums. It is homophonic, the voice and lead guitar taking the lead roles, and set in common time (4/4), with the rhythm "pushing" on the upbeat, then breaking into a shuffle beat root -chord jam after the final verse.

D minor 7 | D minor 7 | A minor 7 | A minor 7 | D minor 7 | D minor 7 | G minor 7 | G minor 7 | Dm 7 - C 7 | Bb 7 - A 7 | D minor 7 | D minor 7

It can also be noted that the origional recording by Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac featured guitars that were slightly below standard pitch, probably due to them being tuned to a piano or another guitar in the recording studio (very much reminiscent of The Rolling Stones). For most performances, it is played in standard, although to create a performance faithful to the origional recording, the low E string is advised to be tuned down to D.

It also believed that the haunting D triad from the 17 fret is played out on one guitar, and a slide guitar playing the same chord is faded in over the top.

Santana version

"Black Magic Woman"
Single by Santana
from the album Abraxas
B-side "Hope You're Feeling Better"
Released 1970
Recorded 1970
Genre Blues-rock, Latin rock
Length 5:24 (album version) 3:16 (single version)
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Peter Green
Producer Fred Catero and Carlos Santana
Abraxas track listing
"Singing Winds, Crying Beasts"
(1)
"Black Magic Woman"
(2)
"Oye Como Va"
(3)

Background

Santana's version, recorded in 1970, is a medley with Gábor Szabó's 1966 "Gypsy Queen", a mix of jazz, Hungarian folk and Latin rhythms. The song became one of Santana's staples and one of their biggest hits. Abraxas reached #1 on the charts and hit quadruple platinum in 1986, partially thanks to "Black Magic Woman." The Santana version is also used as a cover in the music/rhythm video games such as Guitar Hero III and Guitar Hero: On Tour. Howlin Wolf's "Who's Been Talkin" of 1957 (Howlin Wolf 'Rockin Chair Album' 1962, tacks recorded 1957-61)pre-dates "Gypsy Queen".

Structure

While the song follows the same general structure of Peter Green's version, also set in common time, in D Dorian and using the same melody and lyrics, it is considerably different, with a slightly altered chord pattern (D minor 7 | D minor 7 | A minor 7 | A minor 7 | D minor 7 | D minor 7 | G minor 7 | G minor 7 | D minor 7 | A minor 7 | D minor 7 | D minor 7). A curious blend of blues, rock, jazz, 3/2 afro-Cuban son clave, and "Latin" polyrhythms, Santana's arrangement added conga, timbales and other percussion, in addition to organ and piano, to make complex polyrhythms that give the song a "voodoo" feel distinct from the original.[1]

The introduction of the song, which was adapted from Szabo's "Gypsy Queen", consists of simple hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides, before moving into the introduction solo of "Black Magic Woman." After the introduction solo, which follows the same chord progression as the verse, the song moves into an eight-bar piano solo on D minor, and proceeds to two verses sung by keyboardist Gregg Rolie. Two verses of guitar solo follow the two sung verses, which is then succeeded by another verse, before moving into a modified version of the "Gypsy Queen" section from the beginning of the song, to end the piece.

There is also a single edit that runs for 3:15. On the radio the piano solo is sometimes omitted while "Gypsy Queen" is almost always omitted, whilst other longer versions have since been released, including one which runs for 8:56.

In popular culture

The song is featured in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock as a cover version in the track list called "The Hottest Band on Earth". Its also featured in Guitar Hero: On Tour.

References

  1. ^ Olsen, Eric. "That Voodoo You Do: The Classic Santana." Blogcritics.org (Accessed October 3, 2006). <http://blogcritics.org/archives/2004/02/16/155414.php>

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