When I fell asleep that Tues… Err… That Wednesday morning, around 7 or 8 a.m, as trashed as a graduate mature drunkard, I had absolutely no idea that 3 hours later only, I’d have forgotten all about sleep. During those years, boozing was still a large part of my writing. Pretty much just like coozing, if I may say….
About 10:30 a.m., the screaming phone ring pulled me more promptly than I’d have cared for from a toxic sleep. Its mission completed, the ring stopped & dropped me just as suddenly into one of these swamps of a hang-over.
– “Ubub? Here’s my boss” As far as I could tell, this was the voice of my ex-employer’s novelist/journalist wife. She handed me to her Dick of a boss:
– “Allo! Tu parles Anglais? Tu interviewes Carlos Santana au téléphone demain à midi ! (Allo! You speak English?… You’re interviewing Carlos Santana tomorrow at noon!)”
– “Sure! Of course !!!”
So here was I, emerging from a prodigiously hasty & quite incomplete awakening, realizing I’d agreed to interview the one & only Carlos Santana. I’d lie, were I to pretend before all of you that he was my God as an axeman & other convenient clichés of the kind. I did – & still do – however feel the utmost respect towards the venerable kid and his contribution to the music world as well as World Music.
Eventually the necessity to learn a few basics on the smooth art of pulling worms from a consenting adult’s closet dawned on me. I had always held the exercize to be the rightful & exclusive prerogative of human species far more social than my own, and had never dared to face the challenge before.
Then, passably awake, I called my best friend – a major Santanamaniac! – to tell him the news, and asked him what he’d ask Carlos given the opportunity. This is how I got my first question. Hereby led into the right direction by my friend, and having spent a couple of years growing roots in Berklee’s practice rooms & hallways during the 90s, I had soon concocted a handful of questions, that should undoubtedly earn me a Pulitzer, or so was I convinced at the time.
Now, I needed the help from some professionel familiar with the drill. Another friend fit the description, and was willing to counsel me in staging & directing my interview, by placing the questions in an order that seemed logical. Back to my place, the actual painful work could begin: where shall I put this comma? Upper or lower case?… For about 5 hours!
Needless to say, I went straight to bed when this was eventually over, relishing the well deserved respite this night had to offer, having endured more than my share of emotions for one single day. And so many more were to come!
Of course, I woke up late. I gathered my sheets and rushed to the newspaper’s headquarters from where I was to interview my sudden newest guitar idol by phone. Unfortunately, no one there was able to dispatch a conversation on 2 distinct phones, nor even activate the speaker without disabling the microphone. This was getting complicated & I regretted neglecting to rehearse the questions. Well, this was my first interview ever, and I woud have to go commando, with no hope of back-up whatsoever. I was going to complete writing down each answer while I was already asking the next question. I most sincerely hoped I wouldn’t be forced to ask my guest to repeat himself…
12:10 pm: the phone rang. Someone from Mr Santana’s crew checking the line & the name of the interlocutor, prior to the actual interview. Fortunately, my hands hadn’t got wet enough to impair my memory, and I could utter a shy “yes” as I spotted my name in the flow of words spat by the handset
12:15 pm: Phone rang again. By now, my hand was wet enough to let the phone slip, and it did. Once grabbed securely & brought about my ear, I kinda recognized the voice coming from it, & that I’d heard before on MTV & VH1.
– Y-y-y-yes! It am…
This was not going so bad. I had been able to answer a question. I should be able to ask mine. I was not sure yet whether I’d made an impression or not. I didn’t have the luxury of too much time to wonder about it any longer, for an uneasy silence was beginning to settle. This was go time.
It took me about 2 questions to get into full interview mode, as Carlos was nice enough to point out gently, when I couldn’t help repeating aloud his answers, and – more importantly – attempted to guess them before he even pronounced them…
– If you know my answers, why do you even bother asking your questions?
I was trying very hard to find some smart exit from this predicament. Fortunately for me, it was time for question #3 – my best friend’s contribution – so I very conveniently avoided to answer Carlos. As it turned out question #3 seemed to win him over, for the interview was very pleasant from then on. I kept to my asking character, as my guest did to his answering role. We did however meet on the ground of laughter a few times though. By that time, I wasn’t eager for the ordeal to be over as quickly as possible any longer. We eventually parted ways. He was to perform on the next day in Rabat at Mawazine Festival.
I knew I wasn’t going to listen to Carlos Santana like I had ever in the past. After this most brief glimpse at the master’s world, in addition to his voice & intonations, I had to attend the morrow’s concert, for I needed to relisten to him at the light of these new datas & tiny insights, no matter how apparently modest & insignificant. I had to be there, for I knew I would find tips & clues on how to better the man, as I went on improving the musician in me.
I’ll tell you right now: I wasn’t scammed…