Posts Tagged ‘B.W. Stevenson’

‘On The Road To Shambala . . .’

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Shambala, according to Wikipedia, is “a kingdom hidden somewhere in Inner Asia.” Digging deeper, one reads that Shambala is “mentioned in various ancient texts, including the Kalachakra Tantra and the ancient texts of the Zhang Zhung culture which predated Tibetan Buddhism in western Tibet.” Wikipedia goes on to say:

Hindu texts such as Vishnu Purana mention the village Shambhala as the birthplace of Kalki, the final incarnation of Vishnu who will usher in a new Golden Age . . .

Whatever its historical basis, Shambhala gradually came to be seen as a Buddhist Pure Land, a fabulous kingdom whose reality is visionary or spiritual as much as physical or geographic. It was in this form that the Shambhala myth reached the Western Europe and the Americas, where it influenced non-Buddhist as well as Buddhist spiritual seekers — and, to some extent, popular culture in general.

The Wikipedia entry on Shambala offers numerous examples of the use of Shambala in Western culture, including popular culture, noting that the mythical place is sometimes claimed to have been the inspiration for Shangri-La, first described in James Hilton’s 1933 novel, Lost Horizon. Our popular culture interest this morning, of course, is the song “Shambala,” written by Daniel Moore and first recorded in 1973 by B.W. Stevenson and covered very soon after by Three Dog Night. Here’s how Stevenson sang it:

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.

Hey-ay-ee . . .

Everyone is helpful, everyone is kind
On the road to Shambala.
Everyone is helpful, everyone is kind
On the road to Shambala.

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?
How does your light shine in the halls of Shambala?

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.

Hey-ay-ee . . .

Stevenson’s version entered the Billboard Hot 100 on May 12, 1973, and spent eight weeks in the chart, peaking at No. 66. It went to No. 31 on the adult contemporary chart. The cover from Three Dog Night entered the Hot 100 a week later for a sixteen-week stay, peaking at No. 3 on both the pop and AC charts.

And with your host limited by a couple of summer ailments, other covers of “Shambala” – including the 1998 version by its writer, Daniel Moore – will have to wait until later in the week.

‘She Takes My Blues Away . . .’

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Ever since B.W. Stevenson popped up earlier this week, I’ve been digging back into his music. Finding Stevenson’s “Save A Little Time For Love” and “Say What I Feel” through the help of our pal Yah Shure spurred me into ordering two CDs, each of which contains two of Stevenson’s 1970s albums. (The CD offering My Maria from 1973 and Calabasas from 1974 was already on my shelves, though I had a difficult time this morning determining which particular shelf.)

And as I began to dig into Stevenson’s music, I also found myself digging into the work of Daniel Moore, the co-writer of “My Maria” – the late Stevenson’s most successful single – and the writer on his own of “Shambala,” probably Stevenson’s second-best-known work. We’ll get to Moore next week as we listen to some covers of “Shambala” and perhaps a little bit of Moore’s rootsy self-titled album from 1971.

But for today, we’re just going to deal with “My Maria.” Here’s Stevenson’s version, which went to No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 1 for one week on the adult contemporary chart:

From what I can tell, poking around at Second Hand Songs, at discogs.com and at Amazon, there are two U.S.-released covers out there of “My Maria.” (At discogs.com, there are some releases listed from other artists in Germany and the U.K. that may or may not be the same song.) One of those U.S.-released covers listed at Second Hand Songs is credited only to “Voice Male” and was included on a 1997 CD of covers titled Up, Up & Away.

(Other tracks on the Up, Up & Away CD include Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration,” Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now,” Johnny Mandel’s “The Shadow Of Your Smile” and the classic by Ernie, “Rubber Duckie.” Sadly, or perhaps not, the link from Second Hand Songs to the CD’s page at Amazon no longer works, and a few quick checks at other CD emporia brought no joy.)

The other U.S.-released cover of “My Maria” is, of course, the 1996 cover by Brooks & Dunn. Having come late to an appreciation of country music (and not being an expert by any definition of the word), I wonder if Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn are not the most successful country duo of all time. If not, they’re definitely in the running, with – according to Wikipedia – twenty No. 1 hit on the Billboard country chart and another nineteen in the magazine’s Top Ten. “My Maria” wasn’t the duo’s biggest hit. Based on weeks at No. 1, that would have been 2001’s “Ain’t Nothing ’Bout You,” which topped the chart for six weeks. But “My Maria” was No. 1 for three weeks in 1996, and, says Wikipedia, was that year’s top country song. So here’s Brooks & Dunn’s cover of “My Maria.”

As I Suspected . . .

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

While digging into several Billboard Hot 100s from July 8 across the years yesterday, I noted that my files did not show a Bubbling Under section for the Hot 100 from July 8, 1972. I was careful as I wrote not to say that there was no such section, as I was pretty sure there had been.

And soon enough, two readers told me my hunch was correct: Long-time reader and frequent commenter Yah Shure emailed me, and reader Milton Butler left a comment at the post. Both of them included a list of the fourteen records that made up that Bubbling Under section of the chart for July 8, 1972. (My thanks to both of them!)

A note about the files I use when I look at the Billboard pop charts from over the years: They are Notepad files that I found at one forum or another maybe eight years ago, and I have no idea of their origin. Someone with more time than sense expended a lot of effort in compiling every weekly pop chart from December 1954 to mid-July 2004. Sometimes, they have a Bubbling Under section and sometimes they don’t.

Yah Shure and Milton found the Bubbling Under section for that week by combing through the digital file of the magazine offered at Google Books. I don’t know whether the unknown compiler of the files I use simply missed it or just decided to skip it. Nor do I know if the magazine offered a Bubbling Under section every week, but there are a good number of weekly charts in my files that do not have that section. And I have to admit I’d never thought of looking into the digital files at Google Books to find out more information.

Anyway, now that I have the information, I should use it. Yesterday’s piece looked at records in those various July 8 charts that were ranked at No. 100 and at the bottom of the Bubbling Under section. Here are the records that were Bubbling Under in the July 8, 1972 chart:

101. “Rock & Roll Crazies” by Stephen Stills & Manassas
102. “Hushabye” by Robert John
103. “Down On Me” by Janis Joplin
104. “Hot Fun In The Summertime” by David T. Walker
105. “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” by Heaven Bound w/Tony Scotti
106. “Bad Side Of The Moon” by April Wine
107. “Café” by Malo
108. “See You In September” by Mike Curb Congregation
109. “Put It Where You Want It” by the Crusaders
110. “Circus” by Mike Quatro
111. “One A.M.” by the Dillards
112. “Everybody Plays The Fool” by the Main Ingredient
113. “You’re Still A Young Man” by Tower Of Power
114. “Say What I Feel” by B.W. Stevenson

B.W. Stevenson’s “Say What I Feel” spent two weeks at No. 114 then fell out of the chart, although it went to No. 38 on the adult contemporary chart. It was the first charting record for Stevenson, who is likely best remembered for his 1973 hit “My Maria,” which went to No. 9 and spent a week at No. 1 on the AC chart. (In 1996, Brooks & Dunn’s cover of “My Maria” was No. 1 on the country chart for three weeks.) Stevenson, who passed on during heart surgery in 1988, placed three other records in the lower half of the Hot 100 between 1973 and 1977. The best known of them was “Shambala,” which stalled at No. 66 in the spring of 1973 but which Three Dog Night covered and took to No. 3 at about the same time.

“Say What I Feel,” which was written by Michael Martin Murphey, was pulled from Stevenson’s 1972 self-titled album, and Yah Shure sent me a link to a video that offers it and another tune from that 1972 album, “Save A Little Time For Love.” (“Say What I Feel” starts at about the two-minute point of the video.)