How Does Your Light Shine?

shine-the-light

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:16

Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain
With the rain in Shambala
Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame
With the rain in Shambala

With the recent passing of lead singer, Cory Wells, I felt compelled to include a post featuring one of my favorite bands of the 70’s, Three Dog Night. I hate to admit it, but having spent a great portion of my life in and around the music biz, I had a habit of using TDN as a benchmark, of sorts.  When comparing band success, I would often times use TDN as the “dividing line” between good and great, over and under. Thus, the measure of a rock band’s success was above or below that of TDN, the perfect middle line. The question became: Did a band have more – or less – hits than TDN? Maybe it wasn’t fair treatment, but I never had anyone dispute me on the validity of the idea.

Ah, ooh, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Ah, ooh, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

As the Righteous Brothers, Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield, once sang, “If there’s a rock n roll Heaven, you know they’ve got a hell of a band.” That song was released back in 1974, just as TDN’s run was coming to a close.  Back then, the song featured artists that had died far too young like Janis and Jimi, Otis Redding and Jim Croce.  But these days it’s all to common. Forty years have gone by since then and it seems like another rocker passes every other day now. A sign of the times, for sure.

Everyone is helpful, everyone is kind
On the road to Shambala
Everyone is lucky, everyone is so kind
On the road to Shambala

TDN was originally formed in 1967 when Cory, Danny Hutton and Chuck Negron, three very talented singers decided to get together as a cover band playing the local L.A. club scene. The band soon filled out with the addition of Jimmy Greenspoon on keyboards, Joe Schermie on bass, Mike Allsup on guitar and Floyd Sneed on drums, and the group was off and running, signing a contact with ABC-Dunhill records. They focused mainly on recording interesting material from a new crop of – then unknown – artists, like Elton John, Randy Newman, Laura Nyro and Harry Nilsson, among others. For five straight years between 1969-74, the band released a new album – and a new crop of hits – every single year. They scored a total of 21 Billboard Top 40 hits during that period.

How does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala
How does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala

One of those hits, appearing on the album Cyan in 1973, was the song “Shambala” which rose to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. It had a rolling, chanting gospel feel and was somewhat religiously, if not just mystically, inspired by the mythical Hindu/Buddhist kingdom of Shambala, which was said to be located somewhere in the Himalaya’s. TDN’s – and original songwriter Daniel Moore’s – vision of Shambala appeared to be based more on a state of mind reflective of walking a certain spiritual path, than as a physical kingdom or place.

I can tell my sister by the flowers in her eyes
On the road to Shambala
I can tell my brother by the flowers in his eyes
On the road to Shambala

Here’s a few interesting notes about TDN and “Shambala”:

  • Everyone has probably heard the story of the band’s naming, but just in case, I’ll repeat it here. Danny Hutton’s girlfriend had been reading an article about early native Australians and learned that, on cold nights, they would find a hole to sleep in and pull in a dingo or two to keep them warm. A really, really cold night was thus called a “three dog night”.
  • Only one week prior to TDN’s release of “Shambala”, a version by country singer B.W. Stevenson was released. His version was shorter, with a bit more country twang and it did pretty well, but was greatly overshadowed by TDN’s version. Stevenson later “stole” some of the melody from “Shambala” for his smash hit “My Maria”. Check them both out and you’ll see just how much they sound alike.
  • “Shambala” has been so popular throughout the years that it has been used in 15 movies, 2 TV shows and – most recently – in a 2014 Bank of America commercial.

How does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala
How does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala
Tell me how does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala
(Tell me how) How does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala

So, let’s all wish Cory a sweet rest and remember him fondly via one of TDN’s greatest hits. Listen to a great live version here:

Sources for this post include:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shambala

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Dog_Night

 

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