"Bangla Desh" is a song by English musician George Harrison. It was released as a non-album single in July 1971, to raise awareness for the millions of refugees from the country formerly known as East Pakistan, following the 1970 Bhola cyclone and the outbreak of the Bangladesh Liberation War. Harrison's inspiration for the song came from his friend Ravi Shankar, a Bengali musician, who approached Harrison for help in trying to alleviate the suffering. "Bangla Desh" has been described as "one of the most cogent social statements in music history" and helped gain international support for Bangladeshi independence by establishing the name of the fledgling nation around the world. In 2005, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan identified the song's success in personalising the Bangladesh crisis, through its emotive description of Shankar's request for help.
"Bangla Desh" appeared at the height of Harrison's popularity as a solo artist, following the break-up of the Beatles and the acclaim afforded his 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass. It was pop music's first charity single, and its release took place three days before the Harrison-sponsored Concert for Bangladesh shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. The single became a top ten hit in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe, and peaked at number 23 on America's Billboard Hot 100. The recording was co-produced by Phil Spector and features contributions from Leon Russell, Jim Horn, Ringo Starr and Jim Keltner. The Los Angeles session for the song marked the start of two enduring musical associations in Harrison's solo career, with Keltner and Horn.
Backed by these musicians and others including Eric Clapton and Billy Preston, Harrison performed "Bangla Desh" at the UNICEF concerts, on 1 August 1971, as a rousing encore. In a review of the Concert for Bangladesh live album for Rolling Stone magazine, Jon Landau identified this reading as "the concert's single greatest performance by all concerned". The studio recording appeared on the 1976 compilation The Best of George Harrison, which remained its only official CD release until September 2014, when it was included as a bonus track on the Apple Years 1968–75 reissue of Harrison's Living in the Material World album. Artists who have covered the song include Stu Phillips & the Hollyridge Strings and Italian saxophonist Fausto Papetti.
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