Monday, July 26, 2010

Three Dog Night -- "One" (1969)

One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It's the loneliest number since the number one

The "Three Dog Night" album cover
"One" was Three Dog Night's first big hit.  I vividly remember hearing it on the radio while sitting in a Central Missouri State University dorm room during Missouri Boys' State in the summer of 1969.  

I'm not writing about it because it's a perfect little 3-minute AM-radio song ("PL3MAMRS") -- although it is -- but because I hope I can chase down an old rumor I've wondered about for years.

I heard that the committee that planned the 1969 junior-senior prom at Parkwood was having trouble deciding which of two bands to hire to play at the dance.  The band that was eventually chosen was a local favorite, the Pink Peach Mob (one of whose members, Steve Gaines, later joined Lynyrd Skynyrd and was killed in the 1977 crash of that band's airplane.)

The story goes that the other band was Three Dog Night, an up-and-coming California group that would have cost a lot more money to book than the local guys.  Later, of course, Three Dog Night hit it very big, and everyone who went to the dance missed out on being able to bore their friends, co-workers, children, and grandchildren with the story of how a hugely successful band -- they had eleven top-10 hits (including three number ones) -- had played at their high school prom.

Maybe Three Dog Night was a candidate to play at the 1968 prom, not the 1969 one as I've always heard -- looking at the band's recording history, 1968 would work a lot better.  

Surely some of my Joplin readers know whether this is a true story or just an urban legend.  Please -- post a comment and help me clear this up once and for all.

The Downstream Casino
By the way, I see that Three Dog Night played at the Downstream Casino this past July 4 -- so they did make it to Joplin, just 42 or so years late.  

You're breakin' my heart
You're tearin' it apart
So f*ck you!

Nilsson's biggest hits were "Everybody's Talkin' " (the theme song to the movie "Midnight Cowboy"), "Me and My Arrow," and "Without You," which was a #1 hit in 1971.  But my two favorite Nilsson songs -- both from the 1972 Nilsson Schmilsson album -- were "Jump Into the Fire" (which was featured during the scene in "Goodfellas" when Ray Liotta is driving all over town with a bunch of guns in his trunk while a helicopter appears to be following him) and "Coconut" (which was featured in the closing credits of "Reservoir Dogs"):

I said, "Doctor, ain't there nuthin' I can take?"
I said, 'Doctor, to relieve this bellyache?"
You put de lime in the coconut, you drink 'em both together
Put de lime in the coconut, then you'll feel better 

Here is a truly bizarre video of "Coconut" from a 1971 BBC special:

Nilsson released "One" as a single a year before Three Dog Night did.  His version went nowhere -- it's a beautiful performance, but no chance it was going to get played on the radio in 1968:

Here's the Three Dog Night version of "One":

I can't resist giving you the sequence from "Goodfellas" mentioned above.  It's just too good:

If you want to buy "One" from iTunes, click here:

If you want to buy it from Amazon, click here:

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