The Meaning of Santana’s “Oye Como Va”

Santana in 1970.

The groovy “Oye Como Va” by Santana is one of the most popular latin rock songs of all time, recorded by the artist who practically coined the term as we know it with the popularity of their debut album in 1969 (the same year they played at Woodstock). The band was led by the Mexican-American Carlos Santana, an extremely gifted guitar player who recruited a rotating cast of musicians over the years.

“Oye Como Va” was released as a single in 1971 from Santana’s second album, Abraxas (1970), reaching number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sustaining a respectable level of popularity ever since then.

Santana’s “Oye Como Va” was actually a cover of the Cuban cha-cha-chá version recorded by the Puerto Rican-American composer Tito Puente, who crafted the song with his orchestra in 1962. Santana’s version is the one that brought the song international popularity, with its driving arrangement that makes you want to move your feet, as does much of Santana’s music.

While many people do adore “Oye Como Va”, most listeners in the United States have no idea what the meaning of the lyrics is, because the entire thing is sung in Spanish.

Luckily for you, Extra Chill is here to translate the lyrics to “Oye Como Va” from Spanish to English:

Rrr, feel it! 

Listen how my rhythm goes.
It’s good for enjoying, mulatta
Listen how my rhythm goes
It’s good for enjoying, mulatta

Listen how my rhythm goes
It’s good for enjoying, mulatta
Listen how my rhythm goes
It’s good for enjoying, mulatta

Santana’s “Oye Como Va” lyrics, translated to English.

The lyrics are so simple, and there isn’t much to them. Satana is just telling us to listen and enjoy his wonderful rhythm, which we do. The word mulatta (“mulata” in Spanish) is referring to a mixed race woman, who is brought to mind dancing right along with us.

Groove to “Oye Como Va” by Santana below.

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