|Single by Three Dog Night|
|from the album Cyan|
|B-side||"Our 'B' Side"|
|Released||May 11, 1973|
|Three Dog Night singles chronology|
"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 number 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."
Three Dog Night version
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 on the Cashbox Magazine charts, and an isolated week at #1 on WLS. 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, later appeared on Cyan, Three Dog Night's ninth album, and subsequently on numerous anthologies and compilation albums.
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."
B. W. Stevenson version
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. It also reached #31 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart. 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. In South Africa, Stevenson's version actually charted higher, peaking at #8, compared to Three Dog Night's #13.
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.
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.
Despite having two successful incarnations in the same year (one of which has remained a classic rock standard), few other artists have covered “Shambala.” Some of those few are these:
- Rockapella covered the song twice, once in 1997 for their album Primer and yet again in 2002 for their album Smilin'.
- The New Seekers 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.
- 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.
- Matthew Greenwald. "Cyan - Three Dog Night | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- "Top 100". Cash Box. 1973-07-21. Archived from the original on 2015-02-19. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
- "WLS 890 Hit Parade". Users.qwest.net. 1973-07-23. Archived from the original on 2011-08-06. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
- Casey Kasem, "American Top 40", 9 June 1973
- "Three Dog Night — Shambala — Listen, watch, download and discover music for free at". Last.fm. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- "DJM Records- Daniel Moore". Djmrec.com. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- 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.
- Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 229.
- "Country & Country-Rock Collection: Page 1". Napathon.net. 1949-10-05. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- "Mistaken Foreign Myths about Shambhala — Study Buddhism". Berzinarchives.com. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- "Australian Chart Book". Austchartbook.com.au. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-10-04.
- Flavour of New Zealand, 27 August 1973
- "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
- "Three Dog Night Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
- "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-04.
- "biography". Drvictormusic.com. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
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