Shangri-La (The Kinks)

  • 05 Aug 14:53
  • 4 lists

"Shangri-La" is a song written by Ray Davies of The Kinks. The song appeared on the 1969 concept album, Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire).

The song describes a man named Arthur, the title character from the album. Arthur lives in a house which is called, somewhat sarcastically, a Shangri-La. In the beginning of the song, the Shangri-La appears to be a true paradise but, as the song continues, it becomes clear that Arthur's house is as much of a prison as it is a haven. In a compassionate, ironic mood the verses depict British middle-class aspirations and material progress in the years after World War II. The song itself is eclectic in musical sounds. It begins quietly, with Ray singing quietly over the finger-picking of an acoustic guitar. After one verse, the tension builds as brass instruments subtly add to the soundscape. Then, the finger picking becomes faster, and harpsichord as well as drums come into play, as Ray's brother Dave joins in on harmony vocals. Then the climactic and eponymous chorus comes, charging from F to A, recalling the Spector-like wall of sound productions of the earlier decade, but with the thick and heavy tones of their...


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