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Three Dog Night inspires at Pala

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The Three Dog Night concert Friday, Nov. 4, at Pala Casino Spa Resort's Events Center included 17 songs along with a keyboard solo during the band's 79 minutes on stage. Ten of those songs reached the top 10 on the charts, but two of the other seven songs indicated that the band's purpose was to inspire rather than just to entertain.

Three Dog Night has two primary lead vocalists. Danny Hutton is the only remaining original member of the band which was formed in 1968. David Morgan has been the other lead vocalist since 2015. Morgan gave the introduction to the concert's 11th song, "Sure As I'm Sittin' Here", which peaked at No. 16 on the charts. Morgan said that the song wasn't one of the band's biggest hits.

"It's one of my favorites," he said.

Morgan is now 75 years old. He said that he has signs of age but doesn't complain about them. One reason, he said, is that his complaints won't make a difference. The other reason is that more than 50 years ago he was in a band with a blind keyboardist, he said.

"He was only blind with the sense he couldn't see with his eyes," Morgan said.

Morgan said that he, the blind keyboardist and another musician were in Las Vegas in the lounge of the Riviera hotel and casino, which closed in 2015.

"This was back in the day before smoking was frowned upon," Morgan said.

The smoke was irritating Morgan's eyes. He made that comment in the presence of the blind keyboardist, who said three words: "Are they working?"

"He was calling me out," Morgan said. "What in the world was I thinking of complaining about scratchy eyes when I was sitting across the table from a blind man?"

Pala Casino Spa Resort concerts require patrons to be at least 21 years of age to enter. Most of the Nov. 4 audience members are old enough to know the meaning of the T-shirt Morgan wore. Morgan was the only member of the band to wear a T-shirt, which he wore under an unbuttoned jacket. The T-shirt had an image of a 45 rpm adapter, which in the days of vinyl singles which played at 45 revolutions per minute kept that disc steady on the turntable.

The audience members have aged since Three Dog Night recorded 21 consecutive top 40 hits, but they were all sitting if not standing or dancing as they were all present for the performance. Morgan's commentary inspired the audience just as much as the No. 1 hits "Black and White" and "Joy to the World" have inspired those who listen to those songs.

To some extent the band's other No. 1 song, "Mama Told Me Not To Come," could also be classified as inspirational as it expresses regrets about a party focused on alcohol and other substances. Three Dog Night played all three of their No. 1 songs as well as the inspirational song "Easy To Be Hard," which peaked at No. 4.

The top 10 hits Three Dog Night performed at Pala also include (in order of release) "One," "Eli's Coming," "Liar," "An Old Fashioned Love Song," "Never Been to Spain" and "Shambala." The only top 10 hit not performed at the Events Center, "The Show Must Go On," is from the same 1974 Hard Labor album as "Sure as I'm Sittin' Here." The third single released from that album, "Play Something Sweet," which is also known as "Brickyard Blues," peaked at No. 33 and was the only historic song played Nov. 4 which didn't reach as high on the charts at "Sure as I'm Sittin' Here."

Hutton noted that Three Dog Night had 21 top 40 hits and that the concert wouldn't include each of them.

"We're going to do as many as we can," he said.

The concert began with "The Family of Man," which peaked at No. 12, and had 16 of the top 40 hits. Three Dog Night is finalizing its first album of new material since the 1970s and the 16th song in the performance, "Prayer of the Children," was preceded by Hutton's explanation that the song is about the children around the world who are caught up in wars. Although it was not familiar to the audience the song received a standing ovation afterwards.

The Pala Casino Spa Resort audience was not just entertained but also inspired by the Three Dog Night concert. Trading higher-charting songs for more inspirational ones enhanced what attracted many fans to Three Dog Night in the first place.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected].


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