According to Billboard, “Smooth” by Carlos Santana featuring Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 is the second-greatest song of all time. According to the Recording Academy, it was the best song of 1999. According to The Onion, it swept the Grammy Awards for a full 13 years after that. It is a meme, a masterpiece, and a merch opportunity that nobody — not even Rob Thomas himself — could have expected when it first came out on Santana’s Supernatural two decades ago.
And yet here we are, sitting down with Thomas himself at The FADER offices to talk about the process behind the wildly popular single, the magical aura surrounding Santana, the now-iconic video for the song, and the lasting impact that it all had on him personally.