Thursday, April 16, 2009

Of bullfrogs and puppy dogs

Has anybody ever figured out Three Dog Night?

I remember listening to a live album where the stage announcer declares "Please welcome one of the heaviest groups in America ... Three! Dog! Night!'' And the crowd goes wild.

Huh? This was back in the early Seventies, and I was busy trying to be a hippie, growing my hair out for the first time (while I still could) and, you know, learning important hippie lessons. And the term "heavy'' just didn't apply to this band. That would have worked with Iron Butterfly, a contemporary. Or Steppenwolf (except for the fact they were Canadian).

You just didn't think of 3DN as being heavy, especially when they opened one of their most popular and successful songs with "Jeremiah was a bullfrog...''

Yet "Joy to the World'' spent six weeks -- six weeks! -- at the top of the Billboard charts at this time in 1971. And, despite the bubble gum lyrics, I submit that it's not a terrible song. (You may strongly disagree, especially now that I've put the melody back in your head.)

A review of the band's biggest hits suggests they might actually have been one of the greatest cover bands ever, or at least a band that turned other artists' songs into hits.

There was "Mama Told Me Not to Come'' (Randy Newman), "Eli's Coming'' (Laura Nyro), "Easy to be Hard'' (from 'Hair'), and "Old Fashioned Love Song'' (Paul Williams). And "Joy'' was written by Hoyt Axton, who reportedly penned it for an animated children's television special that never went into production. Could it be the lyrics "You know I love the ladies, love to have my fun'' were deemed innappropriate?

That's all I know. If you tell me Cory Wells was the greatest white soul singer of all time, I'm not going to argue. I'm just not.

1 comment:

  1. I went to a 3 Dog Night concert because the opening act was - the MC5.