Top 10 Three Dog Night Songs

Three Dog Night Songs

Photo: By Contemporary Public Relations (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Three Dog Night was one of the most successful bands of the late 1960s and early to mid-1970s that made a career of covering songs from outside writers. The band was formed in 1967 and featured three outstanding vocalists: Danny Hutton, Cory Wells, and everyone’s favorite, Chuck Negron. The group took songs from some of the industry’s most remarkable songwriters and turned them into mega-smash singles. The only other band who had done something similar to what Three Dog Night was doing was the Fifth Dimension. However, Three Dog Night featured three singers with powerful lead vocal chops and harmony skills. Those skills, along with a great band and excellent recordings, caused the world to fall in love with the band.

Three Dog Night recorded an abundance of material. From 1968 to 1976, the band released one to two albums a year. Throughout the 1970s, the band landed three number-one singles. Their songs were always in the Billboard Top 20. If you were alive in the 1970s, regardless of age, you knew Three Dog Night. Outside of Elton John, they were one of the most successful commercial musical acts of the 1970s

# 10 – Eli’s Coming

Opening up our Three Dog Night songs list is the beautiful cover of Laura Nyro’s “Eli’s Coming.” We felt it appropriate to start this Three Dog Night songs list with a track that opens up with a mesmerizing acapella vocal performance. Three Dog Night’s success was formulated in their vocals, and the track “Eli’s Coming” defines their brilliance in that area. The song Eli’s Coming was released on their 1971 album Suitable For Framing.

# 9 – Easy To Be Hard

Choosing only ten songs from a band like Three Dog Night is tough, with over twenty top twenty Billboard hits alone.  The band recorded some of the most beautiful ballads of the 1970s. The song “Easy To Be Hard” was written by Galt MacDermot, James Rado, and Gerome Ragni. It was written for the 1960’s play Hair. Three Dog Night recorded the song on their Suitable for Framing album. Chuck Negron performed the song’s lead vocal. (Chuck is standing far left in the article picture) The Three Dog Night cover of “Easy To Be Hard” reached number four on the Billboard Top 100 in 1969.

# 8 – Mama Told Me Not To Come

Randy Newman’s brilliant composition was covered by Three Dog Night in 1970. Three Dog Night’s version of the song was incredibly successful, reaching the number-one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Cory Wells sang the lead vocals on the song. “Mama Told Me Not To Come” was released on the Three Dog Night album It Ain’t Easy

# 7 – Till The World Ends / Pieces of April

In 1975, Three Dog Night released their last great album, Coming Down Your Way. The album’s opening track featured a beautiful song entitled “Till The World Ends.” Kenny Loggins wrote the song. It was released as a single but only reached the number 32 position on the Billboard Hot 100 music charts. Regardless of its peak position, it’s one of the most beautiful and tender ballads that lead singer Chuck Negron has ever sung.

# 6 – Shambala / The Show Must Go On

The band had so many great songs that we could not stop squeezing in a few more songs to avoid missing some of our favorites. “Shambala” and “The Show Must Go On” were two Three Dog Night songs that featured uplifting rocking tempos bathed in Three Dog Night pitch-perfect harmonies. “Shambala” reached number three on the charts in 1973. “The Show Must Go On” reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973.

In a year in which bands and artists like Led Zeppelin, Billy Joel, Elton John, Yes, and so many others were releasing some of the most significant records of their career, Three Dog Night’s success was even more astonishing,

# 5 – Out In The Country

“Out In The Country” was one of those Three Dog Night songs that stood out among the ballads and rockers that the band was releasing. The great Paul Williams wrote the song. “Out In The Country” had a feel that sounded more like the band Chicago. It was also one of the few songs in which all three lead singers in the band shared the lead vocal. The song was released in 1970 on the great It Ain’t Easy album. The band R.E.M. recorded a version of the song in the 1990s. Richard Podolor produced the single “Out In The County.” The song was also released in the first year that people began celebrating Earth Day.

# 4 – Liar

The song “Liar” was about as progressive as the band Three Dog Night ever recorded. And it was a great one. Not to be confused with the famous Queen song “Liar,” Three Dog Night’s “Liar” was also released as a single. It was issued on their 1970 album Naturally. The progressiveness of the single may have had to do with the band trying to change it up a bit after the enormous success of “Joy To The World.” The song “Liar” was the follow-up single to that classic song. Danny Hutton was featured as the lead vocalist on the track. Of all the Three Dog Night Songs on this list, “Liar” was the outlier.

# 3 – Black and White

The last few Three Dog Night Songs on this list were massive mega hits that dominated AM radio all throughout the 1970s. They are three distinctly different-sounding tracks. However, they all contained the two elements that made Three Dog Night so successful in the 1970s: brilliant to-die-for vocals and incredibly well-written songs of substance.

A decade after the Civil Rights Movement, the lyricism of “Black and White” was bathed in the passion and energy of the times. However, the song was written in 1954 by David I. Arkin and Earl Robinson. The writers were said to have written the song in response to the Brown v. Board of Education ruling that ended segregation in public schools.

# 2 – One

Three Dog Night’s recording of Harry Nilsson’s “One” was simply breathtaking. The song “One” was recorded by Three Dog Night for their debut album in 1968. “One” was the album’s opening track. It was the second single released from the album after “Try A Little Tenderness.” Three Dog Night’s version of “One” became a top 10 hit, peaking at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

# 1 – Joy To The World

The iconic Three Dog Night song “Joy To the World” is the band’s most famous recording. Chuck Negron performed the lead vocal on the track.  Fans and perhaps even band members may argue whether or not it was their most significant work, but there is no arguing about the song’s popularity. So choosing “Joy To The World” to land in the number one position on our Three Dog Night Songs list was a no-brainer. Hoyt Axton wrote the song. Interestingly, Hoyt Axton’s mother was a songwriter who scored a huge hit writing “Heartbreak Hotel” for Elvis Presley.

“Joy To the World” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971. Not only did it reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Weekly charts, it finished the year ranked as the number one song by Billboard Magazine in 1971. The song is one of the biggest-selling singles in the history of modern music.

Updated December 22, 2023

Top 10 Three Dog Night Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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