Meaning of “Santeria” by Sublime

“Santeria” is one of the biggest songs by the American band Sublime. The lyrics of the song tell the story of a man whose girl (Heina) abandons him and flees someone else. The jilted man, who desperately needs his woman back, finds himself thinking of using whatever desperate means he can to get her back from the man (Sancho) who stole her. One of these desperate means includes using voodoo or “Santeria” to try to get Heina back.  Aside black magic, the jealous man goes as far as talking about shooting Sancho for stealing his Heina. According to him having shot Sancho, he would go as far as slapping Heina down for abandoning him.

What is Santeria?

It is a religious cult very similar to voodoo. This cult, which originated from Cuba, is practiced in a number of countries in the world, including Panama, Brazil and certain parts of the United States. The word “Santeria” is Spanish. In English it translates to “way of the saints”.


Facts about “Santeria”

  • “Santeria” was written by Sublime (vocalist Bradley Nowell, bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh). The lyrics of the song were written by the band’s frontman Bradley Nowell. Nowell died tragically at the age of 28 before the song was officially released. He died from a heroin overdose in his hotel room in San Francisco while he was touring with Sublime.
  • Speaking with music website Songfacts, former bassist of Sublime, Eric Wilson, said he wrote the music of “Santeria”. According to him, Bradley later added the lyrics to the song.
  • American record producers David Kahne and Paul Leary handled the production of this tune.
  • The track was officially released on January 7, 1997. It was the second single from the band’s third studio album titled Sublime. The album proved to be the band’s final studio album.
  • The track was initially just an instrumental song, which was titled “Lincoln Highway Dub”. It appeared on the band’s 1994 studio album Robbin’ the Hood.
  • On the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Airplay (Radio Songs), the song peaked at number 43. In Canada, it peaked at number 90.
  • The word “Santeria” appears only once in the lyrics of this tune.


Does this tune have an official music video?

Yes, it does. The music video of “Santeria” was directed by American music video/film director McG. Bradley Nowell doesn’t physically appear in the video since it was shot after his tragic death in 1996. However, his dear dog named Lou Dog appeared in the video. While shooting the music video, Lou Dog bit the lip of American actor Tom Lister Jr.. The actor was playing the role of Sancho who steals the narrator’s girlfriend Heina.


Which artists have covered this song?

Since the song’s release in 1996, many artists have covered it. For example, American rapper/singer Post Malone covered this song during a live performance in Brisbane, Australia in 2018. Other notable artists that have covered this song include AVAIL, Megan Washington, Haley Reinhart and Jack & Jack.

Below is Post Malone’s 2018 cover of the song live in Australia:

3 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    My understanding is that “Heina” means girlfriend , “my woman” or wife.
    Sancho is another word for the other guy, the spare guy, the clandestine lover.

  2. brad says:

    never heard of santeria activities in brazil

  3. Anonymous says:

    They have a lot of African Brazilian religions, including spirits, food offer (including whole animals) to saints, but not voodoo.
    The majority of the saints are similar to Catholic saints and the big majority of rituals are for a good reason.

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