Shangri-La (The Kinks song)

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Single by The Kinks
from the album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
B-side "This Man He Weeps Tonight" (Dave Davies)
Released 12 September 1969 (UK)
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded May–June 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London
Genre Rock
Label Pye 7N 17812 (UK)
Writer(s) Ray Davies
Producer(s) Ray Davies
The Kinks singles chronology

"Shangri-La" is a song written by Ray Davies of The Kinks. The song appeared on the 1969 concept album, Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire).

Lyrics and music[edit]

"Shangri-La" forms the centerpiece of Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire).[1] The song opens quietly with an acoustic guitar soon to be joined by Davies singing. The lyrics at this point are condescending, mocking the illusions of the protagonist Arthur that his modest home earned through hard work is a paradise, just because it contains modern conveniences such as indoor plumbing and a rocking chair.[1][2] Davies provides one note of empathy for Arthur's empty life with a line stating that he accepts this because "he's conditioned that way."[2] However, the bridge rocks harder as the lyrics express anger at the superficial suburban lifestyle that Arthur lives and their fear of confronting their "false Eden."[2]


Music critic Johnny Rogan calls the song "one of Davies' best from the period," noting that "his ambivalence to the subject is evident throughout as he takes an alternately affectionate and sardonic look at cosy middle class aspiration."[1] Allmusic critic Stewart Mason agrees that "Shangri-La" is "one of Ray Davies' finest songs ever."[3] George Starostin, on his music review website "Only Solitaire", praises the song, saying that it "ranks as one of the top three or four Kinks' songs ever". But like the Kinks previous single, "Drivin'," "Shangri-La" failed to chart in the UK or US.[2] It did reach #27 in the Netherlands.[4]

Other appearances[edit]

The song is featured in a UK advert about reducing your carbon footprint and a UK trailer for the BBC3 comedy program The Wrong Door.

A new recording 2009 can be found on the release The Kinks Choral Collection by Ray Davies with the Crouch End Festival Chorus.


  1. ^ a b c Rogan, J. (1998). The Complete Guide to the Music of the Kinks. Omnibus Press. p. 71. ISBN 0711963142. 
  2. ^ a b c d Kitts, T.M. (2008). Ray Davies: Not Like Everybody Else. Routledge. pp. 137–140. ISBN 041597769X. 
  3. ^ Mason, S. "Shangri-La". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  4. ^ Emlen, Dave. "International Chart Positions". Retrieved 2104-05-01.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links[edit]