Alice Coltrane's "Journey in Satchidananda"

Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums

30-11-2021 • 40 minutes


Alice Coltrane spent the mid-Sixties in personal and musical bliss, starting a family with John Coltrane and touring the world as the pianist in his band. Then John died suddenly of liver cancer in 1967. Newly widowed at the age of 29 with four children to care for, she plunged into a lengthy period of despair. Sensing her pain, an old friend introduced her to his guru, Swami Satchidananda. With a new clarity — and a harp that John had commissioned for her before his death — she entered the basement studio of her Long Island home and recorded Journey in Satchidananda. Our episode retraces the entire arc of this remarkable 1971 record: We step into the basement where the album was recorded; speak to several musicians who played on it as well as Alice's daughter, Michelle; hear from musicians it influenced — including Flying Lotus, the grandson of Alice's sister; and hear archival interviews with Alice herself, delving into the remarkable story of a woman who crafted something beautiful and enduring in the time of her deepest pain.

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