The Top 10 Santana Songs

Favorites From a Plentiful Crop

Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana during a concert in 2009. Wikimedia Commons

When a band releases 36 albums over the course of 43 years, it isn't easy culling out 10 that qualify as the best of the best. Like virtually all classic rock bands, Santana's greatest success has been selling albums and performing killer live shows, but most of the songs on the list were also successful singles.

Peter Green wrote "Black Magic Woman" and Fleetwood Mac released it as a single in 1968. But the version most people remember came along two years later when Santana paired it with "Gypsy Queen" and released it on their second studio album in 1970. The lead vocalist at the time was keyboardist Greg Rolie.

Watch: live performance of "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen" at Tanglewood in 1970

On his first album as the second lead guitarist, Neal Schon (who jumped, with Greg Rolie, from Santana to Journey in 1973) soloed on "Everybody's Everything." The album, released in 1971, soared to No. 1, with this single peaking at No. 12. 

Watch live performance of "Everybody's Everything" at Montreux Jazz Festival in 1996

After the crowd reaction this song drew at Woodstock, it was little wonder that "Evil Ways" was featured on Santana's debut album a few months later in 1969. It quickly became Santana's first Top 10 single.

Watch: live performance of "Evil Ways" at Woodstock, 1969

Santana's cover of this song, written and first recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter Ian Thomas, was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lackluster decade for the band. "Hold On" was the most popular of three singles from​ 1982's Shangó, peaking at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

Watch: live performance of "Hold On" at Us Festival, 1982

Originally recorded for 2005's All That I Am, this song, featuring vocals by Nickelback's Chad Kroeger, wasn't released until two years later, as an original track on the Ultimate Santana compilation album. It made it as high as No. 26 on the singles chart.

Watch: live performance of "Into the Night" at Live Lisboa, 2006

Like "Evil Ways" and "Black Magic Woman," this song is one of those most closely associated with Santana. Tito Puente wrote it in 1963, but it has been a Santana signature song since appearing on their second studio album, Abraxas, in 1970.

Watch: live performance of "Oye Como Va" at Tanglewood, 1970

Rob Thomas co-wrote and sang "Smooth" on Santana's 1999 comeback album, Supernatural, on which a number of contemporary artists from various genres collaborated. In addition to staying at No. 1 for 12 weeks, the song won three Grammy awards. It was Santana's first-ever No. 1 hit single, their previous highest charting having been "Black Magic Woman" which peaked at No. 4.

Watch: "Smooth" music video

Another tune from Santana's Woodstock set that has become a trademark, the instrumental "Soul Sacrifice" was a natural selection for the band's debut album. In addition to the guitar artistry, the song's drum solo put the spotlight on the youngest artist to perform at Woodstock, 20-year-old Michael Shrieve.

Watch: live performance of "Soul Sacrifice" at Woodstock, 1969

Released in 1981, Zebop! was the last Top 10 album Santana would release for the next 18 years. The success of Supernatural in 1999 broke a five-album losing streak. Much of Zebop!'s success came from this track, "Winning," which peaked at No. 2 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

Watch: live performance of "Winning"

"You Know That I Love You" was the first single off of 1979's Marathon. It made it to No. 35, and perhaps in an effort not to tempt fate, it would be the only single from that album.

Listen: "You Know That I Love You"