The Original vs The Cover – “Black Magic Woman”

When you hear the song title “Black Magic Woman”, most people immediately associate the song with Santana and that is because they have the most famous version of the song.  However, their version is actually a cover version.  I did not know that until a short time ago when I discovered that the original was performed by Fleetwood Mac two years earlier.  My world was rocked as I had no idea.  I don’t know if life will ever be the same.

The song was written by Peter Green who was the original singer for the Fleetwood Mac and he came from John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers where he originally replaced Eric Clapton on guitar.  There is whole story around that and the formation of Fleetwood Mac which we will have to save for another time as this post is about comparing the two versions of “Black Magic Woman”.

FLEETWOOD MAC

The Fleetwood Mac version of “Black Magic Woman” was  a real bluesy track, heavy on the drums and the bass with little guitar riffs thrown in.  Then there is a great guitar solo that comes in about a minute into the song and goes on for about 45 seconds.  It is really great and what would you expect from a guy that replaced Eric Clapton in another band.

Peter sounds great vocally as well and after listening to it, I realized I have heard the song many times before but probably thought it was the Santana song, of course it doesn’t have the same feel, but they aren’t completely different songs.

“Black Magic Woman” is basically a rip off of another song Peter wrote with Fleetwood Mac off the debut album called “I Loved Another Woman”.  Play the two tracks side-by-side and they are identical, only the lyrics have been changed to protect the innocent.  I actually like both versions, but the edge does go to “Black Magic Woman”.

SANTANA

Just two years after the original, Santana added their own magic to the song.  They turned the blues rock song into a Latin infused beast.  The extra percussion including congas and timbales to name a few that really change the whole sonics of the song.  Not only that, the Santana version opens up with a some incredible guitar solo which was inspired by Gabor Szabo’s song “Gypsy Queen” which also ends the song on the album version, but the ending was removed for the radio edit.

The little guitar riffs in the original are still there, but Carlos Santana changes them up a bit adding more flare and his own style.  Vocally, Gregg Rolie sounds great as well and doesn’t sing it that differently from Peter which is probably why I never noticed which version I was listening to when I heard them years ago not knowing they were different songs.

The whole Latin vibe really made you think of the woman being involved in Voodoo and added more mystery to the her which made the song a little more exciting.  I am not comparing the version with the “Gypsy Queen” instrumental piece at the end because that just isn’t fair to Fleetwood Mac as that totally takes the song to another level.

THE VERDICT

Alright, which version do I like best?  That is a good question and luckily it is easy for me.  As much as I do like the Fleetwood Mac original version, I really do love the Santana version and that is they one I choose as my favorite.  The Latin beats and whole vibe of the song is just mesmerizing and such a fun song.  Carlos’ guitar work is unmatched and it just screams classic Santana sound.  Santana took the song and completely made it their own.

What really knocked points off the Fleetwood Mac version is the fact it is a complete copy of their other song “I Loved Another Woman”.  For Santana, it is just a cover song and nothing more.

Let me know what you think.  Which version do you like best or is there another one out there that is better (seriously doubt it on this one…but I have been known to be wrong…I can’t tell you when that was but I am sure my wife could).  Thanks for stopping by.

“Black Magic Woman”

Got a black magic woman
I got a black magic woman
Yes, I got a black magic woman
Got me so blind I can’t see
But she’s a black magic woman
And she’s tryin’ to make a devil out of me

Don’t turn your back on me baby
Don’t turn your back on me baby
Yes, don’t turn your back on me baby
You’re messin’ around with your tricks
Don’t turn your back on me baby
‘Cause you might just break up my magic stick

[break]

You got your spell on me baby
You got your spell on me baby
Yes, you got your spell on me baby
You’re turning my heart into stone
I need you so bad, magic woman, I can’t leave you alone

Yes, I need you so bad
Well, I need you darling
Yeah, I need you darling
Yes, I want you love me
I want you love me
Whoa, I want you love me, ah
Whoh, yeah
Oh, whoa, baby
Yes, I need your love
Oh, I need your love so bad
I want you love me

12 thoughts on “The Original vs The Cover – “Black Magic Woman”

  1. Wow, I too had no idea it was originally a Fleetwood Mac song! I have to agree with you that, while I really like both versions, Santana’s is a better song on a number of levels.

    The Fleetwood Mac of the late 60s/early 70s was a completely different band from what they became with the addition of Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks. Both bands were great in their own way, but I know some purists hated Fleetwood Mac after Buckingham & Nicks came on board.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hey now, I’m very familiar with both versions for a change! Yeah, as much as I dig the bluesy style of Peter Greene’s early Mac, Santana’s version is just too iconic to ignore. I have to go with Santana as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know it was a cover song by Fleetwood Mack! I love Santana’s music. I like a few Fleetwood Mack songs. I like Stevie Nicks solo too. I have to pick Santana’s version. “Black Magic Woman” still holds up in 2018.

    Liked by 1 person

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