Three Dog Night recorded an abundance of material. From the year 1968 to 1976, the band released one to two albums a year. Throughout the 1970’s 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 what age you were, you knew Three Dog Night. Outside of Elton John they were one of the most successful commercial musical acts of the 1970’s
# 10 – Eli’s Coming
Opening up our Three Dog Night songs list is the wonderful cover of Laura Nyro’s “Eli’s Coming.” We felt it appropriate to start out this Three Dog Night songs list with a track that opens up with a mesmerizing acappella 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 songs Eli’s Coming was released on their 1971 album Suitable For Framing.
# 9 – Easy To Be Hard
It’s very difficult to choose only ten songs from a band like Three Dog Night that had over twenty top twenty Billboard hits alone. So we have chosen to have a few toes on this list so we don’t leave out some of our favorites. The band recorded some of the most beautiful ballads of the 1970’s. 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. The song’s lead vocal was performed by Chuck Negron. (Chuck is standing far left in the article picture) The Three Dog Night cover of “Easy To Be Hard,” reached all the way up to the number four spot 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. The lead vocals on the song was sung by Cory Wells. “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 entitled Coming Down Your Way. The opening track of the album featured a beautiful song entitled “Till The World Ends.” The song was written by Kenny Loggins. It was released as a single but only reached as far as the number 32 position on the Billboard hot 100 music charts. Regardless of its peak position, its one of the most beautiful and tender ballads that lead singer Chuck Negron ever sung.
# 6 – Shambala / The Show Must Go On
The band had so many great songs that we just could not stop squeezing in a few more songs so that we didn’t miss 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 the number four spot 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 greatest records of their career, Three Dog Night 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 song was written by the great Paul Williams. “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 1990’s.
# 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 actually 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. Out of all the Three Dog Night Songs on this list, “Liar,” was definitely the outlier.
# 3 – Black and White
The last few Three Dog Night Songs on this list were huge mega hits that dominated AM radio all throughout the 1970’s. 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 incredible 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 resulted in putting an end to 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,” stands easily as the band’s most popular recording. The lead vocal on the track was performed by Chuck Negron. Fans and perhaps even band members may argue whether or not it was their greatest work, but there is no arguing 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 pretty much a no brainer. The song was written by Hoyt Axton. Interestingly, Hoyt Axton’s mother was also a songwriter who scored a huge hit writing “Heartbreak Hotel,” for Elvis Presley.
“Joy To the World,” reached the number one spot 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 July 28, 2021
Top 10 Three Dog Night Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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