Shambala (song)

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"Shambala"
Shambala - Three Dog Night.jpg
Single by Three Dog Night
from the album Cyan
B-side"Our 'B' Side"
ReleasedMay 11, 1973
GenrePop rock
Length3:25
LabelDunhill 4352
Songwriter(s)Daniel Moore
Producer(s)Richard Podolor
Three Dog Night singles chronology
"Pieces of April"
(1972)
"Shambala"
(1973)
"Let Me Serenade You"
(1973)

"Shambala" is a song written by Daniel Moore and made famous by two near-simultaneous releases in 1973: the better-known but slightly later recording by Three Dog Night, which reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and a version by B. W. Stevenson. Its title derives from a mythical place-name also spelled Shamballa or Shambhala.

Lyrics[edit]

The song's actual lyrics are about the mythical kingdom of Shambhala, which was said to be hidden somewhere within or beyond the peaks of the Himalayas and was mentioned in various ancient texts, including the Kalachakra Tantra and ancient texts of Tibetan Buddhism.[1] The original location was a mystic temple in Peru, specifically, the temple of the White Lodge, according to Alice Bailey's A Treatise on White Magic (1934), cited by Moore.[2]

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.[1]

Three Dog Night version[edit]

The well-known cover version 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 No. 3 in both the pop singles and adult contemporary categories,[3] No. 1 on the Cashbox Magazine charts,[4] and an isolated week at No. 1 on WLS.[5] 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, the first one that the group had specifically cut as a single, rather than an album cut,[6] later appeared on Cyan, Three Dog Night's ninth album, and subsequently on numerous anthologies and compilation albums.[3][7]

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 was long famous, and the bluesy vocals of Cory Wells. Allmusic calls this hit single "one of the group's finest later period records."[3]

In the original recording, writer Daniel Moore pronounces the first syllable of the title ("sham") as it would rhyme with "ham." The Three Dog Night and B.W. Stevenson versions pronounce that syllable to rhyme with "mom."

B. W. Stevenson version[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 No. 96 and later peaked at No. 66 the week of June 9.[8][9] It also reached No. 31 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart.[10] 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.[11] In South Africa, Stevenson's version actually charted higher, peaking at No. 8, compared to Three Dog Night's No. 13.[12][13]

Chart performance (Three Dog Night version)[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[23] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

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 the song including:

  • Rockapella covered it twice, once in 1997 for their album Primer and again in 2002 for their album Smilin'.
  • The New Seekers recorded a version 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.[24]
  • The Skeptics also recorded a power pop version of the song on their 1994 CD, Be Satisfied.
  • Country singer 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.[25]
  • The Switzerland based band Light Food covered "Shambala" on their 2016 album Party Approved.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Mistaken Foreign Myths about Shambhala — Study Buddhism". Berzinarchives.com. Retrieved October 8, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Casey Kasem, American Top 40, July 28, 1973. Possibly the actual citation should instead be "Shamballa or The Great White Lodge" by Dr. M. Doreal, mentioned in many on-line references.
  3. ^ a b c Matthew Greenwald. "Cyan – Three Dog Night | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved October 8, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Top 100". Cash Box. July 2, 1973. Retrieved September 2, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "WLS 890 Hit Parade". Users.qwest.net. July 2, 1973. Archived from the original on August 6, 2011. Retrieved July 22, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Casey Kasem, "American Top 40", June 9, 1973
  7. ^ "Three Dog Night — Shambala — Listen, watch, download and discover music for free at". Last.fm. Retrieved October 8, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ The Hot 100, Week of June 9, 1973 – Billboard. Retrieved December 26, 2020
  9. ^ As Stevenson was a songwriter himself, and had jointly written and composed 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.
  10. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 229.
  11. ^ "Country & Country-Rock Collection: Page 1". Napathon.net. October 5, 1949. Retrieved October 8, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "SA Charts 1965 – March 1989". Retrieved July 1, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "SA Charts 1965 – March 1989". Retrieved July 1, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Austchartbook.com.au. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved October 4, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. August 4, 1973. Retrieved July 1, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 27 August 1973
  17. ^ "SA Charts 1965 – March 1989". Retrieved September 5, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ "Three Dog Night Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 9, 2015. Retrieved November 1, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Top 100 Singles of '73" (PDF). RPM. December 29, 1973. Retrieved April 12, 2020.
  21. ^ Billboard Top 100 Hits of 1973 Music Outfitters
  22. ^ "CASH BOX TOP SINGLES – 1973". Archived from the original on February 17, 2015. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
  23. ^ "American single certifications – Three Dog Night – Shambala". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved February 14, 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  24. ^ "biography". Drvictormusic.com. Archived from the original on March 22, 2017. Retrieved October 8, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  25. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]