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.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Sublime's Santeria at

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:

10 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.

  4. Larry Montgomery says:

    The song”sanitaria” by Sublime is just an awesome song,it is a shame the young front mannever had the chance to preform it live…

  5. Truth says:

    Actually… Sancho was a friend of the lead singer. I knew a girl that dated him in California. The lead singer thought sancho slept with his girl..this the song. That’s the actual truth.

  6. Leandro says:

    Santeria is definitely not practiced in Brazil, not in the broad sense of the word. There might have scarce groups that follow its practices and rituals here and there, but it’s far from being a religion really stablished in Brazil.

    This might be a confusion with local Brazilian cult and religion called umbanda, which is very, very similar to Caribbean voodoo given how both have African roots (brought to Americas by the African slaves). Similar to Santeria, some Umbanda cults tend to mix catholic aspects with African traditions and rituals, but like I said, there are no references to Santeria as a real cult in Brazil, at least not officially recognized as so.

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