168: Blind Faith In Music—José Feliciano (Free Version)
For a man who has won nine Grammy Awards, recorded over 60 albums, and performed with the very best of American artists, José Feliciano is as down to earth as they come. With his ready laugh, self-deprecating humor, and penchant for bad puns, the self-taught guitar prodigy wants to talk about his Catholic faith, from which he drifted a few years back.
Born blind from congenital glaucoma, his family moved to Spanish Harlem from his native Puerto Rico when young José was five. He found a natural draw to music, and scraped, and practiced, and wrote, and practiced some more—many hours per day—until it was clear the kid had some serious guitar chops.
Despite having toured all over the world, won the accolades all musicians dream of winning, he seems happiest on the homefront, at ease with himself and his God.
In this episode you will learn
- How he discovered his amazing facility for guitar playing
- His reaction at learning that his 1968 cover of California Dreamin’ by “The Mamas and the Papas” was selected by director Quentin Tarantino for his Grammy-nominated soundtrack for the hit 2019 movie Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.
- The sweet reason he’s still “not totally resigned” to the fact of his blindness
- How his unorthodox rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner at the 1968 World Series game badly damaged his career but led to his meeting his wife Sue.
- His abandonment, and re-embrace of, the Catholic faith of his boyhood
- How he improvised the recording of the Christmas classic “Feliz Navidad”
- His views on pop acts and pop music in general today
- Why drummers are so under-appreciated
- Whether he still gets nervous before shows
Resources mentioned in this episode
- Latest CD, Behind This Guitar
- His rendition—now beloved, then reviled—of The Star Spangled Banner from 1968
- Central scene on Once Upon a Time In Hollywood featuring Feliciano’s classic cover of California Dreamin’ (2:36 to 3:36)
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