Thursday, February 22, 2018

Three Dog Night – "Lady Samantha" (1969)

The tales that I told round the fire every night
Are out of proportion and none of them right
She is harmless and empty of anything bad

Three Dog Night’s Suitable for Framing was one of the albums I listened to over and over when I was a senior in high school.

I didn’t brag about it, of course.  I viewed Three Dog Night as a lightweight band, and would never compare them to Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones or the Doors.  I’m actually surprised that I bought one of their albums.

Three Dog Night put out a lot of good singles – their first hit, “One,” is one of the best singles of its era – but they put out some pretty hokey stuff as well.

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Three Dog Night made a living off other people’s songs.  They wrote a few of the songs they recorded, but mostly did covers.

You’ve got to give them credit – they chose songs written by some of the very best songwriters of the sixties and seventies.  I’m talking Harry Nilsson (“One”), Laura Nyro (“Eli’s Coming”), Randy Newman (“Mama Told Me Not to Come”), Robbie Robertson (“Chest Fever’), Dave Mason (“Feelin’ Alright”), Neil Young (“The Loner”), Tim Hardin (“Don’t Make Promises”), Hoyt Axton (“Never Been to Spain”), and many others.

I didn’t know until recently that today’s featured song, “Lady Samantha,” was an Elton John-Bernie Taupin song.  In fact, “Lady Samantha” was Sir Elton’s first American single.  (It didn’t chart.)

Three Dog Night’s cover is quite similar to John’s version, with one important difference.  For some reason, John repeated the first chorus in what seems like a blatant attempt to stretch a too-short, two-verse song to an acceptable length.  

You can repeat the final chorus.  Hell, you can repeat it five or six times if it’s really good.  But you shouldn’t repeat the chorus the first time you sing it.

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I can’t think of a band other than Three Dog Night that had three lead vocalists.  (Plenty of groups have three singers, but there’s usually only one lead vocalist.  The others may occasionally get to sing lead, but are first and foremost backup singers.)

I took my older kids to see Three Dog Night perform live at the annual “Hometown Holidays” celebration in Rockville, Maryland.  I’m thinking it was the early nineties – maybe ’92 or ’93 – but I can’t be sure.  I’m pretty sure they didn’t perform “Lady Samantha,” which was never released as a single.

Here’s Three Dog Night’s version of “Lady Samantha”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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