Carl Sigman wrote the lyrics to this song. In The Carl Sigman Songbook
, his song Michael tells the story:
An enduring standard can get written in a flash of inspiration, but sometimes the process requires years of gestation. In the late '40s, Carl had been given an assignment to write lyrics to a melody by (future "Ebb Tide
" collaborator) Robert Maxwell and composer-conductor Matty Malneck. He wrote a decent enough one, but it languished. Almost a decade later, he got a call from publisher Abe Olman saying it was time to finally do justice to this soaring melody. A more seasoned lyricist by now, Carl listened again and this time came up with just the right first line, "Your Kisses Take Me/To Shangri La." The rest of the new lyric flowed like wine, and "Shangri La" became a big, brash 1950s-style pop vocal group hit for The Four Coins in 1957. It was reprised seven years later by Peggy Lee as a hushed, introspective, almost spoken recording, and was also a pop hit for Vic Dana and for The Lettermen in the '60s. The song still plays in theaters across the country as a show-stopper in Forever Plaid, the long-running musical homage to the '50s.