Album: Suitable For Framing
. . .
Was there ever a band that was more machine-tooled for late 60s/early 70s AM radio than Three Dog Night? Featuring three racially ambiguous-sounding vocalists, Chuck Negron, Cory Wells and Danny Hutton, and the pick of great songs from the era’s greatest songwriters — their debut featured songs from Lennon-McCartney, Robbie Robertson, Neil Young, Randy Newman, and Harry Nilsson, the last of which provided their first big single — Three Dog Night had 11 top ten singles from 1969-1974, starting with Nilsson’s “One,” and ending with Leo Sayer’s “The Show Must Go On.”
Even though I started listening to top 40 late in their run, their songs were still all over the radio, and I’m only human, you guys. And I didn’t really have that much of a snob factor at 10, so quite a few of their songs snuck their way into my brain, even though I never bought even a single of theirs. I didn’t have to, and I still knew ’em all by heart.
Like “Celebrate,” which is basically two parts: the first part that you kinda tolerate waiting to get to the second part, and the second part, which is why you listened to the first part at all.
I mean, the first part is fine, Chuck Negron singing organ solosomething about going to celebrity ball and FOMO, which builds and builds to a pretty good fakeout that probably pissed people off who weren’t really listening that hard.
Dress up tonight
Why be lonely?
You’ll stay at home, and you’ll be alone
So why be lonely?
Like I said, the first time around, it’s building, but drops back to another verse about the celebrity ball, but almost instantly goes back to that same build, which ends with the money shot: there’s a stop time as they all hold on “why be lonelyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy” over which the coda begins: the first of approximately 1,965,557 times they chant “Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music.”
And I could easily be underestimating that number. But it doesn’t matter, because “Celebrate” well and truly sounds like a fucking celebration, like they’re having more fun than you’ll ever have. Or at least as much fun as you can imagine you having. Helping this out is the horn section from Chicago — another band that had AM radio of that time well and truly wired — as well as solos from keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon and guitarist Mike Allsup.
But maybe it was all too much: “Celebrate” was their first single since “One” that didn’t make the top ten — the other two before it were the #4 “Easy to Be Hard” and #10 “Eli’s Coming” — and it looked like maybe their momentum was going in the wrong direction. SPOILER ALERT: it wasn’t, as their very next single was their first #1. Which we’ll get to next.
“Celebrate” Live on Soundstage, 1975
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