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"Oye Como Va" is a song written by Latin jazz and mambo musician Tito Puente in 1962. Mexican-American rock group Santana's rendition further popularized the song, which reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 11 on the Billboard Easy Listening survey, and number 32 on the R&B chart.[1]

"Oye Como Va"
Song by Tito Puente
English title“Hear how it goes”
Songwriter(s)Tito Puente

The title comes from the first words, which can be translated as "Listen to how [it] goes" or "Hey, how is it going".[2]

The song has the rhythm and tempo of cha-cha-cha. It has similarities with "Chanchullo" by Israel "Cachao" López. The Latin Beat Magazine wrote: "Cachao's tumbaos for his 1937 composition of 'Rareza de Melitón' (later changed to 'Chanchullo') inspired Tito Puente's signature tune 'Oye Como Va'."[3] On the original recording of the song the voice of Santitos Colon, the Puente orchestra singer at the time, can be heard in the song along with those of Puente and other orchestra musicians. Cachao can be heard playing contrabass in some of Tito Puente's live versions of "Oye Como Va".

The song has had many arrangements and remakes by a number of artists in various tempi. NPR included the song in its "NPR 100: The most important American musical works of the 20th century".[4]

Santana versionEdit

"Oye Como Va"
Single by Santana
from the album Abraxas
English title"Hey, How's It Going"
B-side"Samba Pa Ti"
Format7-inch single
GenreLatin rock
Songwriter(s)Tito Puente
Music video
"Oye Como Va" (audio only) on YouTube

Santana's arrangement is a "driving, cranked-up version"[4] in a new style of Latin rock, adding electric guitar, Hammond B-3 organ, and a rock drum kit to the instrumentation and dropping Puente's brass section. The electric guitar part takes on Puente's piccolo melody, and the organ provides accompaniment (with organist Gregg Rolie's discretional use of the Leslie effect). There are several guitar solos and an organ solo, all of which are rooted in rock and the blues but also contain licks similar to those of the original arrangement.[4][5] The song was inducted into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001.[6]

Tito Puente, speaking in the intro to his recording of "Oye Como Va" on the album Mambo Birdland, said "Everybody's heard of Santana. Santana! Beautiful Santana! He put our music, Latin rock, around the world, man! And I'd like to thank him publicly 'cause he recorded a tune and he gave me credit as the composer of the tune. So, since that day... all we play... is Santana music!" The version of the song on "Mambo Birdland" is a Santana-ized version.

Chart performanceEdit

Chart (1970) Peak
Canadian Singles Chart 7
Mexican Singles Chart 9
Billboard 100 (US) 13

Other versionsEdit

This song has been recorded by many musicians, with Santana's version being the most widely recognized.

  • The Joe Cuba Sextette and Cheo Feliciano.
  • Jazz vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson on his 1975 album, Montara.
  • Latin rapper and singer Gerardo recorded the song on his 1991 debut album, Mo' Ritmo.[7]
  • Celia Cruz included the song on her album, Siempre Viviré.
  • Mexican electronic/rock band Kinky recorded the song for their 2004 album Oye Como Va.[8]
  • The jazz/funk band New Orleans Nightcrawlers included the song on their 2000 album Live at the Old Point.
  • The Salsa Brothers featuring OJT on My Electric Oye Como Va (2009)
  • Eliane Elias, Brazilian singer and pianist, recorded the song in 2006, 36 years after Santana, on her album Around The City. On Elias' version, there are additional lyrics written by Elias.
  • Julio Iglesias included the song in 1994 on his album Crazy. There is a change in lyrics of chorus, which are written "Oye como va mi niña/Vamos a gozar, mulata", translated as: Listen to how it goes, my girl, let’s go to enjoy, mulatta.
  • Azúcar Moreno recorded the song on their 1990 album Bandido, and coupled it with Santana's 1971 song Guajira in a two-songs medley.
  • 2 Live Crew sampled the song on the track "Mamolapenga" on their 1990 album Banned in the U.S.A.
  • The Mexican group Banda M-1 recorded a cumbia version in 1994.
  • Joe Strummer and The Latino Rockabilly War.[9]
  • Natalie Cole recorded the song in 2013, 43 years after Santana, on her #1 and Latin Grammy nominated album Natalie Cole en Español.
  • Walt Disney Records this song appeared on La Vida Mickey album on CD


In 2000, “Oye Como Va!” was named one of the one hundred most important American songs of the twentieth century by NPR’s All Things Considered. The mixture of styles of the other versions of the song represent the multiple origins of U.S. Latino music; Tito Puente was a U.S. born Puerto Rican whose song “Oye Como Va!” was inspired by Israel “Cachao” López, an Afro-Cuban bassist. In the song. “we can hear not only the tumultuous social and cultural rumblings that characterized the 1960’s but also their echoes, which are still resonating in the extraordinary assortment of blended sounds--from Latin freestyle to Hip-Hop to Reggaetón--created by U.S.-born Latinos in subsequent decades”. This song vividly demonstrates the interconnectedness, hybridity and transnationality of music through sampling and versioning across the Americas and Caribbean.[10]


  1. ^ "Carlos Santana", Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Archived 2006-10-17 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Salazar, Max. "Orestes Lopez, brother to Israel Lopez Cachao, and the mambo", Latin Beat Magazine. September, 2002. Archived 2007-03-10 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b c "Oye Como Va" (RAM). NPR 100. Retrieved 2007-05-12.
  5. ^ "Oye Como Va" (PDF). McGraw Hill. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-05-12.
  6. ^ "Latin GRAMMY Hall Of Fame". Latin Grammy Award. Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. 2001. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  7. ^ 'Artists Direct'
  8. ^
  9. ^ Joe Strummer and The Latino Rockabilly War (Live full concert)
  10. ^ Hernandez, Deborah Pacini (2009). Oye Como Va!: Hybridity and Identity in Latino Popular Music. Temple University Press. p. 2.