Katmandu

Album: Beautiful Loser (1975)
Charted: 43
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  • Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal. In the '60s, as many Americans were searching for enlightenment, the city was seen as a panacea for the ills of Western culture. A remote and exotic location, it was also seen as the ultimate getaway, which is how Seger used it in this song.

    Seger took a humorous tone, singing about his desire to disappear for a while after dealing with constant touring and record company politics. For him, Kathmandu is used to represent a place far away where no one will bother you.
  • Like most of Seger's output up to 1976, "Katmandu" was a popular track in his home state of Michigan, where some radio stations would play records and a legion of fans would buy his records. But its national chart placing of #43 was typical - wide swaths of the country just weren't exposed to Bob Seger.

    Beautiful Loser was Seger's eighth album. By this time, fans and critics couldn't figure out why he wasn't catching on outside the heartland - if folks heard this guy, they reasoned, surely they'd dig it.

    Many of the Beautiful Loser tracks, including this one, worked very well live, and Seger's Silver Bullet Band was firing on all cylinders. It was taking a while for Seger to record his next album, so his label, Capitol, issued a live album called Live Bullet in April 1976 to keep him on the market. With "Katmandu" a standout track, the album did extremely well in Michigan and Ohio, and word spread around the country, even on the coasts where Seger was little known. When he issued the Night Moves album in October, he was a national act. Seger soon joined the ranks of top-rank rockers, which boosted his back catalog. Beautiful Loser eventually sold over 2 million copies.
  • Seger used an alternate spelling of Kathmandu, which made it easier for American eyes to comprehend. In 1970, Cat Stevens released a far more earnest song about the city which he also spelled Katmandu.
  • In the 1985 movie Mask, starring Cher and Sam Elliott, Eric Stoltz' character dreams of going to Katmandu with his good friend. The song was also used in the 1987 movie Last Fling, with John Ritter and Connie Sellecca.
  • Other mentions of Kathmandu in rock lyrics include "Cry Baby" by Janis Joplin ("Honey, the road'll even end in Kathmandu") and "Nobody Told Me" by John Lennon ("There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Kathmandu"). Both songs were released after the artists died.
  • Seger was in tune with his Silver Bullet Band when he was on the road, but a lot of his studio work around this time was done at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in the small but musically fertile outpost of Sheffield, Alabama, which is where he recorded seven of the nine songs on Beautiful Loser, including "Katmandu." The owners of the studio were also the musicians: Jimmy Johnson (guitar), Barry Beckett (keyboards), David Hood (bass) and Roger Hawkins (drums). Recording there was a lot less expensive compared to a big-city studio, and the quality was excellent. For Seger, it also took some of the burden off his band - many bands have cracked after stepping off the tour bus and into the confines of a studio, where they are expected to again do the bidding of the group leader.

    The Muscle Shoals musicians (affectionately labeled "The Swampers" in "Sweet Home Alabama"), got producer credits on the Beautiful Loser songs they worked on, which didn't amount to much at first, but ended up providing a nice revenue stream when Seger's career took off. Other big names to use their services around this time include Paul Simon and Rod Stewart.
  • An organist named Robin Robbins was brought in to play on this track.
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Comments: 17

  • George from Vancouver, CanadaSuch a joy that comes out in this song. You know he's happy as he sings it. He loves the people of his native country, yet looks forward to a vacay far far away. . .
  • Brent from Denair, CaRegarding the move "The Mask": if I remember correctly, there were other Seger songs in that movie. Supposedly, the real young man that the movie was based on, was a huge Springsteen fan but between the legal eagles, they could not work out a movie/singer contract with The Boss. I remember hearing this some time ago, but do not have facts to support this. I was just wondering if anyone else had more insight. I thoroughly enjoy both Seger and Springsteen.
  • Greg from Harrington Park, NjDenise in Yakima - they are on greatest hits volume 2.
  • Ron from Los Angels, CaIt's pretty hard to get tired on listening to Live Bullet again and again. Katmandu is an important reason why.
  • Devesh from Kathandu, NepalKathmandu attracted a lot of Hippies during that time including Hendrix and Jim Morrison. There's a hotel in Nepal where Hendrix had stayed and is named after him. While Jim Morrison in his song Roadhouse Blues has used some Nepali words. Main reason for Hippie attraction life was so carefree and Nepal never banned weeds
  • Valentin from Beijing, ChinaBob's rock'n'rolls are fantastic. this one is not an exception
  • Daniel from Lakewood, OhFor my money.LIVE BULLET is still the standard for which all other live albums should be judged.
    I have been listening to that release for 30 years now and nothing stands up to it. Best live album ever!
  • Carrie from , MiBob Seger actually went to Katmandu....however it was in the 1990's. He claimed it was a real eye opening experience for him, the plight of the people there.
  • Darren from Hickory, NcActually, it's not that the lyrics are different between the studio and live versions. The studio version has another verse that was omitted when Seger performed the version that appears on the Live Bullet album. I wonder to this day why he did that. (Or is it possible that he performed the whole song in concert and the producers just edited out the 2nd verse before releasing the album?)
  • Steve from Torrance, CaChuck Berry was a major musical influence on Bob Seger, as is evidenced by this song and "Get out of Denver". Both appear on the "Live Bullet" album.
  • Ariff from Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaKatmandu is actually spelled Kathmandu
  • Paul from Rothesay, New Brunswick , CanadaHey Brian...don't forget "Marrakesh Express"!
  • Brian from Meriden, CtIs there a rock song that mentions a more remote, third world city than this?
    Not They Might Be Giants' Constantinople/Istanbul ditty.
    A few Rush songs mention some pretty mysterious places but they are a bit mystical and ancient.
    Maybe Murray Head's One Night in Bangkok would be an example. Not for Bangkok but some other place he may squawk about.
    As far as band names I think Timbuk3 may take the cake.
  • Brian from Meriden, CtClassic Seger! This is real rock and roll. Seger typifies real, American rock and roll to me. His inclusion into the Hall of Fame in a city not far from his hometown was ridiculously overdue. The rules concerning year of elidgiblity would have put his at '93 or '94. 2004 was ridiculously late.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyAlthough Seeger recorded this song for an earlier studio album, the single that charted was from his "Live Bullet" album. The two versions have slightly different lyrics.
  • Ken from Louisville, KySeeger "zings" his label, Capitol/EMI in this song with the line "Warner Brothers are such good hosts". In other words, better treat me right, I might swicth labels when my contract is up!
  • Denise from Yakima, WaWhere can I hear his songs Satisfied and Tomorrow?
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