Shambala (song)

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Single by Three Dog Night
from the album Cyan
B-side "Our 'B' Side"
Released May 1973
Genre Pop rock
Length 3:25
Label Dunhill 4352
Writer(s) Daniel Moore
Producer(s) Richard Podolor
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Three Dog Night singles chronology
"Pieces of April"
"Let Me Serenade You"

"Shambala" (a title derived from a place name also spelled Shamballa or Shambhala) is a song written by Daniel Moore and made famous by two almost simultaneous releases in 1973, the better-known but slightly later Three Dog Night version, which reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and a lesser-known version by B.W. Stevenson.

Three Dog Night[edit]

The well-known cover of this song by the rock band Three Dog Night appeared in 1973 on the Billboard Hot 100, on the top 40 from the beginning of June through the end of August, reaching #3 in both the pop singles and adult contemporary categories,[1] #1 on Cashbox,[2] and an isolated week at #1 on WLS.[3] Headed toward the Hot 100's summit in late July, had it not run out of steam, "Shambala" would have completed an uncommon distinction of a Hot 100 chart-topper for each of four consecutive years for the group. The song later appeared on Cyan, Three Dog Night's ninth album, and subsequently on numerous anthologies and compilation albums.[1][4]

Although the lyrics of "Shambala" draw on a theme from Eastern mysticism, Allmusic notes the "very strong gospel feeling" of the album Cyan is most evident on this song. This comment may be based on both the instrumentation, including the characteristic gospel keyboard organ sounds that accompany the chorus, which features the repeated, unmistakable dog howls for which the group has long been famous, and the bluesy vocals of Cory Wells. Allmusic calls this hit single "one of the group's finest later period records."[1]

B.W. Stevenson[edit]

One week before Three Dog Night's version appeared on the charts, Texan singer-songwriter B. W. Stevenson's minute-shorter version bowed at #96 and later peaked at #66 during its eight-week run.[1][5][6] This lesser-known version is often regarded as country pop or country rock and appears on collections of such. The twang of Stevenson's steel-string acoustic guitar, his Southern accent and an American folk music sound all distinguish it from the better-known version soon to follow.[7] In South Africa, Stevenson's version actually charted higher, peaking at #8, compared to Three Dog Night's #13.


The song is about the mythical kingdom of Shambhala, said to be hidden somewhere within or beyond the peaks of the Himalayas and mentioned in various ancient texts, including the Kalachakra Tantra and ancient texts of Tibetan Buddhism.[8]

The lyrics refer to a situation where kindness and cooperation are universal, joy and good fortune abound, and psychological burdens are lifted.

The phrases "in the halls of Shambala" and "on the road to Shambala" tie for number of occurrences in the lyrics. The latter phrase perhaps alludes to the idea of Shambala not as a physical place but as a metaphor for the spiritual path one might follow.[8]

Film and television use[edit]

This song has proven a popular accompaniment to film and television and has appeared in the following:

Other versions[edit]

  • Despite having two successful incarnations in the same year (one of which has remained a classic rock standard), few other artists have covered "Shambala". The cover recorded by Rockapella may be the most notable post-1973 version. The New Seekers have covered the song in the 1970s, however it only appeared on their 1992 compilation, Greatest Hits [Masters]. South African musician Dr Victor recorded a dance version of "Shambala" that was a worldwide hit in 1994.[9] The Skeptics also recorded a power pop version of the song on their 1994 CD, Be Satisfied. Country superstar Toby Keith issued a live recording of "Shambala" as a bonus track on the deluxe version of his 2011 album Clancy's Tavern. The South African trio Mark Haze (from Idols South Africa season seven), Dozi and Ghapi recorded a version on their album Rocking Buddies in 2013.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d [1] Allmusic
  2. ^ "Top 100". Cash Box. 1973-07-21. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  3. ^ "WLS 890 Hit Parade". 1973-07-23. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  4. ^ [2] Last fm music, "Shambala"
  5. ^ [3] DJM Records: Daniel (Joseph) Moore.
  6. ^ As Stevenson was a songwriter himself, and co-wrote the top-ten hit "My Maria" with Moore, some sources erroneously list Stevenson as the writer or co-writer of "Shambala". Incidentally, some sources either recognize musical similarities between these two songs or refute those that do.
  7. ^ [4] Country & Country-Rock Collection: B.W. Stevenson
  8. ^ a b [5] Mistaken Foreign Myths about Shambhala
  9. ^ Dr Victor Biography Retrieved February 19, 2015
  10. ^ Rocking Buddies Retrieved February 19, 2015