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Shambala by Three Dog Night

Album: CyanReleased: 1973Charted:
3
  • This was written by the songwriter Daniel Moore, and first released by the Texas songwriter B.W. Stevenson. Moore told us:
    "Regarding the song, 'Shambala,' it was written entirely by myself, Daniel Moore in the fall of 1972. It was recorded by Three Dog Night in December of 1972. It was recorded by B.W. Stevenson in Late February, 1973 and released two weeks before the Three Dog Night version was released. During those two weeks B.W.'s version sold 125,000 single 45's. Then Three Dog Night released their version and sold 1,250,000 single 45's."

    Later in 1973, with the Three Dog Night version of "Shambala" climbing the charts, Stevenson released a carbon copy single called "My Maria" (credited to Stevenson and Moore), which peaked at #9 US, two months after "Shambala" hit #3.
  • The word "Shambala" has a spiritual meaning in the Buddhist religion, and some Tibetan Buddhists believe that it is a mystical land hidden somewhere in the Himalaya mountains. The song's writer, Daniel Moore, told us the story:
    In 1972 my brother, Matthew, called me and informed me that he had received a letter from Dorothy Beg at Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts that told him where and who he had been in his past lives. He had sent a letter to her requesting this information. After recounting several past lives the letter ended with, "My messenger tells me to tell you," "Let your light shine in the halls of Shambala." In the phone conversation at that point Matthew said, "Shambala, what the hell is that?"

    So I did some research and found dozens of references to the word Shambala, the 5000 year old word originating from Sanskrit. Some were weird, some were goofy but the one I liked was found in Alice Bailey's Treatise On White Magic. It basically said that there was a gigantic cavern under the Gobi Desert that has a replica of every evolving human being. And when that replica begins to light up or glow (meaning you are cleaning up your act and becoming more spiritual minded or raising your consciousness to a higher level), there is point where your replica gets bright enough to warrant a spiritual teacher being sent to you.

    I remember getting excited about the sound of the word, "Shambala." Before I wrote the song, I called a friend, Eddie Zip, who I'd been working with and telling him, "That word Shambala has a magic sound to it, you ought to put together a band and call it Shambala, you couldn't lose." We had just recorded one of his songs titled "Don't Make God's Children Cry." We were getting - ELEVATED!

    I wrote the words and melody, a capella, driving on the Ventura Freeway in about 10 minutes. I got home, picked up my Martin guitar and had the music finished in 5 minutes; a pretty good 15 minutes.

    The recording session of my demo in 1972 was with Dean Parks and Jim Varley. Dean (playing bass) was sitting with me (I was engineering, playing the acoustic guitar and singing live) in the control room, we were wearing earphones with the speakers turned off; and fifty feet away at the other end of the studio on the other side of the glass with earphones, was Jim Varley playing drums. Twenty eight years later I had Greg Beck overdub an electric guitar and that is what you hear on this recording. That's the only time Dean Parks and Greg Beck have played together, according to Greg.

    Three Dog Night heard the song through a publisher, Lindy Blaskey, who was working at ABC Dunhill Publishing. He called me and was very excited because he had gotten such a positive reaction from Three Dog Night and their producer Richie Podler. Anyway, they cut it, it was their single and it was a hit. Bless all of their hearts.

    Postscript:
    In the Guinness Book of World Records, under Prophecies, there is a reference to Shambala where it says, "Any one who furthers the name, "Shambala" shall be rewarded 100 times." And so it is.
  • This was used in a commercial television advertisement campaign for Citgo Petroleum. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
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Comments: 24

On June 23rd 1973, Three Dog Night performed "Shambala" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
One month earlier on May 13th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #71; and on July 22nd it peaked at #3 (for 1 week) and spent 16 weeks on the Top 100...
The song was at #11 on the Top 100 on the day of their appearance on 'Bandstand'...
It also reached #3 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart and #4 in Canada...
On the same 'Bandstand' show they performed "Joy to the World" (peaked at #1 for 6 weeks in 1971) and "Black and White" (reached #1 for 1 week in 1972)...
R.I.P. bassist Joe Schermie (1946 - 2002).
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
In "law and Order" Lorraine Toussaint played a public defender named "Shambala Greene".Marlene - Montreal, Qc
This and Out in the Country are my favorite TDN songs. This band is very underrated today. Fantastic harmonies and beautiful melodies made this band a late 60's / early 70's favorite.Paul - Detroit, Mi
According to an old music book I have had since the seventies, Shambala was written in 1973 by Daniel Moore. Moore and Stevenson co-wrote My Maria.Hal - Tampa, Fl
My absolute favorite TDN Song!Eric - Mcallen, Tx
Oh, for the record, it was the summer of 1973!Karen - Manchester, Nh
I still remember exactly where I was when I first heard this song; I was 8 years old and my family was staying at the beach for a week. Every time I hear this song, it takes me right back to the beach!Karen - Manchester, Nh
The mythological place is called: Shangra-laSunshine - Oklahoma City, Ok
You know what made me like this song? Buck Rogers. By 1979 this was a hip but old song, but Buck had his entertainment system playing one of the songs from the archives. I remember the lady that stopped in asked "What is that?" And Buck rattled off "Shambala" which got an immediate "What?" Buck was like "Nevermind, before your time." Or something like that. This song was kinda fun like that show was.Greg - Dallas, Tx
The song is currently being used in an advertising campaign by Michelob beer.Doug - Los Angeles, Ca
Three Dog Night`s version of "Shambala" was featured in`an episode of`"Lost", in a Hurley flashback when he was working on a car with his father - significant for the show`s clue-hunters.Andrew - Ottawa, On
"In Tibet, as well as many other Asian countries, there are stories about a legendary kingdom that was a source of learning and culture for present-day Asian societies. According to the legends, this was a place of peace and prosperity, governed by wise and compassionate rulers. The citizens were equally kind and learned, so that, in general, the kingdom was a model society. This place was called Shambhala."

-Chogyam Trungpa
Troy - Starks, Me
The legend of Shambala is the Tibetan Buddhist (Tantric, or Lamanist) version of Armageddon, wherein a mighty Buddhist army will annihilate all Muslims, Christians, and Jews. It was played on very heavily by various political forces and armies during the first half of the twentieth century, in order to motivate people to fight fanatically without fear of death. For instance, one communist Mongol general led a group of Buriyat Mongol Red Guards against the White General von Ungern promising them that if they died in battle, they would be reincarnated as soldiers in the "Shambala Army". The Japanese also used it as propaganda quite a bit in organizing proxy armies of various minorities against the Chinese prior to their invasion of China in the 1930's.Bryant - Roswell, Nm
this song is on the soundtrack from the movie titled "DROWNING MONA" with Bette Midler,Danny Devito,Jamie Lee Cutis,Casey Affleck and Neve Campbell. Truly a funny movie with a reasonably good soundtrack.
Louis Rodriguez
Lancaster,Cal
Louis Rodriguez - Lancaster, Ca
My least favorite 3DN song. Just sorta retarded. It hit at a time when this type of hippie song was out of vogue.Darrell - Dallas, Tx
Sort of a forgotten oldie... you don't hear it much. Big hit in '73.Pete - Ny, Ny
B.W. stevenson's version hit the charts on May 12, 1973 only reaching #66 during its 8 week run. Three dog nite's recording entered the charts a week later but had twice the run and hit #3. it was written by Daniel Moore - not Stevenson.Bill - Beechhurst, Ny
Thanks to all of you that posted your opinions. This song has always resonated something deep within me. Listening to it is a very spiritual experience for me and it's good to know the history behind it.Chuck - Sarasota, Fl
Just listen to the words and you can tell what it's about - Shambala, Nirvana, Heaven, that place of peace and love for one another. The singer is getting there, he's on the road to Shambala (love, peace, enlightenment).Nicole - Nottellin, Or
Steve from New Orleans - first let me say, I hope you're someplace safe and dry, and our thoughts and best wishes are with you all!

Now - to answer your question about what the song "Shambala" is about - Shambala is a legendary, mythical city - kind of like a Buddhist Camelot, if that isn't mixing my metaphors too much. Shambhala (Shambala) represents the ideal of secular enlightenment, a view that all aspects of civilization'family, commerce, education, science, the arts, religion'can be permeated with a natural sense of sacredness. So, in short, Shambhala is a place whose people have achieved a state of spiritual enlightenment. That's what the song is about. And incidentally, there's an a cappella group called Rockapella that has an awesome recording of the song on one of their CD's.
Vicki - Minneapolis, Mn
"Shambhala" is a mythical city of Tibet, sort of a paradise on earth. If you read the book "Lost Horizon", it refers to the city of Shangri-La; this is based on the legend of Shambhala.Kelli - Cedar Rapids, Ia
Charles is only partially correct. While B.W. Stevenson did record "Shambala," he is not the composer of the song. I also don't agree that "My Maria" is a "carbon copy" of "Shambala." There are a few stylistic similarities, but they're two entirely distinct songs.Mike - Youngstown, Oh
An answer for Steve's question:
http://www.shambhala.org/

The song is most likely about the buddhist retreat in Colorado (since it refers to the "halls of Shambala"). It started two years before the song was released by Three Dog Night.
http://www.shambhalamountain.org/
Brian - La Mesa, Ca
Does anybody know what the song is about? I googled "Shambala" and it came up with a variety of things. I'd appreciate it if anybody could help me understand this hip tune.

Thanks,

Steve
Steve - New Orleans, La