The Lonely Shepherd (James Last and Gheorghe Zamfir)


There is a wonderful arrangement of The Lonely Shepherd by Zamfir and Nana Mouskouri that I wanted to share with you. Also this is one of the top posts on the blog, and I think it will be interesting to many new readers. Unfortunately, the way YouTube works these days, not only the embedded video may become unavailable, it may not be showing in your country due to copyright restrictions. But let’s hope most of you will be able to watch this beautiful performance and once again listen to the enchanting melody.

Most importantly, as you know (or will know) from the post, this melody has accompanied me throughout my life, so it is touching in its way to hear your comments and to realise that we all share something so dear. Thank you all very much for this.

In hindsight… could Mother Nature’s Son be the Lonely Shepherd?

I‘ve had this thought for a while, but never took it very seriously… The answer is, of course, that he could well be. Either the protagonist of Beatles song could be the Lonely Shepherd; or the Lonely Shepherd could be Mother Nature’s son. Paul McCartney wrote another of his solo songs when the band was in India, and reportedly it was inspired by a lecture by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. As a matter of fact, it was 40th anniversary of this song release in 2008.

Having said that, the vision McCartney conveys in this song is that of a dreamy, poor but fairly happy child. I dare say the image I’ve always had in my head when listening to The Lonely Shepherd was that of a young man. I’ve never contemplated much the meaning of “loneliness”, neither did I consider The Lonely Shepherd to be primarily a love song. But, of course, as boys grow older, Mother Nature’s Son could very well develop into a romantic young man…

Original post – 09 December, 2006

I remember loving this melody since I was three or four, but my mother told me recently that I was humming it to myself when still in a pram, and that was long before I was even three years old. In all these years it has always been my favourite piece of instrumental music. It’s kind of shame to think that on YouTube and elsewhere it is often defined as a soundtrack to Kill Bill, considering for how long even I have known it. I love the melancholy and grace of this melody, and it was nice to see it performed by the James Last Orchestra (which I adore) and Gheorghe Zamfir. Unfortunately, I used to have two YouTube videos embedded here previously, first one, then another, and both are no longer available (see the explanation below), so I decided to take the picture down, as well.

You can still, however, scour YouTube, and, judging by some of the comments, this amazing music and a fantastic inspiring performance don’t leave anybody unmoved. Myself and everyone who visits this page are, I am sure, very thankful to all of you who have already shared their appreciation of this wonderful composition. As before, if you have any special notes or memories about this music and don’t mind sharing them, leave a comment! 🙂


Official site of Gheorghe Zamfir (English, French and German versions)
Wikipedia entry for James Last Orchestra
James Last and His Orchestra – fansite created by Last’s German fan, Günter Krüger (English and German version).
An excerpt from The Lonely Shepherd on


This is a poem by Johann Wolfgang Goethe, called The Shepherd’s Lament (1803). I think there may certainly be a connection between this poem and the melody that we all love.

On yonder lofty mountain
A thousand times I stand,
And on my staff reclining,
Look down on the smiling land.
My grazing flocks then I follow,
My dog protecting them well;
I find myself in the valley,
But how, I scarcely can tell.
The whole of the meadow is cover’d
With flowers of beauty rare;
I pluck them, but pluck them unknowing
To whom the offering to bear.
In rain and storm and tempest,
I tarry beneath the tree,
But closed remaineth yon portal;
‘Tis all but a vision to me.
High over yonder dwelling,
There rises a rainbow gay;
But she from home hath departed
And wander’d far, far away.
Yes, far away bath she wander’d,
Perchance e’en over the sea;
Move onward, ye sheep, then, move onward!
Full sad the shepherd must be.

And one more update:

Unfortunately, I noticed lately that many of the videos I’ve blogged about, including this (now former) performance of The Lonely Shepherd, have been removed from YouTube. I have no clue as to what the reason is, especially because many more videos have been suspended that I used to watch a lot (I don’t have a YouTube account myself). I doubt the issue is in the copyright, since some versions of those video clips still exist in other users’ folders, but of a much poorer quality. Whether or not it may have to do with YouTube and Google merge, I don’t know, if you are familiar with the problem and know what happened, please do leave a comment and put my angry mind to rest.

In the meantime, there is a different version on my blog; if one day it stops working, we’ll know, why. I do hope this won’t happen – The Lonely Shepherd is a popular melody in every sense of the word: many people like it, and it’s very well-known. And because this is a televised version of the performance anyway, I cannot see the reason why the fans of Zamfir and James Last should not enjoy the chance of watching it – it is quite obvious that sitting in a concert hall listening to a live performance would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, incomparable to any video recording.


10 thoughts on “The Lonely Shepherd (James Last and Gheorghe Zamfir)”

  1. so glad you like this piece. It’s always been one of my favourite James Last compositions. there is a live version on the 1978 London concert album with george zhamfir playing…that was one of the first James Last albums I bought (aged 16 at the time) so it brings back lots of memories. It was also featured in the 2004 tour inc the PDiddy rap! I see there is due to be a concert in Moscow next March – the 70s JL in Russia album is full of similarly haunting stuff. best wishes, D


  2. Thanks, salopian! Yes, I love this piece, but I also generally love JL. Don’t quote me on this, but I think I’ve got their vinyl disk at home in Moscow. I probably won’t make it to Moscow in March (alas!), but will tell my friends there, maybe they’ll go. All best to you!

    And thank you, mancubist. In fact, this was the first time I saw Lonely Shepherd being performed, and Zamfir appears totally immersed in the melody. Adorable!


  3. Thank you for sharing this. The Rose by Bette Midler evokes similar feelings, although that has got to do with a different relative in my case.


  4. Great to see your positive comments…have followed James Last for many years…lots of great memories of Hansi and his band. Just noticed Channel 4 in UK are using The Lonely Shepherd on Gordon Ramsey’s new series advert for the F Word. Keep an eye out on Channel 4 after 9pm I gues because of the sword waving. Worth it. Quality tune.


  5. Ian, I’m so sorry I’ve only just found your comment! Yes, I noticed they used it for Ramsey’s programme. It is kind of strange, don’t you think, that such a beautiful melody should be used to accompany the scenes of physical violence or strong words? And, alas, the video is suspended again.


  6. I heard this music for the first time tonight while looking for “Shepard Boy Blues” It was increadable.. it is still on U-Tube.. as well as many other sites.. it is a mellody that transends time.. peaceful, calming, and absolutly amazing.. I went imediatly to Amozon and bought the last copy.. the vidio is incredable.. Goddess Bless


  7. Naukishtae, thanks a lot for the comment! A while ago I had this melody on an audio cassette… well, the tape eventually got torn because I rewound the track endlessly and tirelessly!! LOL Since then I'm always listening to it online or when it's on the radio. But what you say about melody being calming and peaceful is so true! This is how I've always thought and felt about it.


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