Song: “Joy To the World” by Three Dog Night
Reached #1: April 17, 1971 (their second, 6 weeks)
Best as I can tell, this song probably wasn’t meant to be a rock song, wasn’t meant to be sung by Three Dog Night, and wasn’t even supposed to have the lyrics it did.
Country songwriter Hoyt Axton wrote the melody first, and while trying to convince his record label there was a song here, threw some temporary lyrics into give the label something to work with. Turns out the label liked it, so he left the words in. Then, when he pitched the song to Three Dog Night, two of the band’s three singers weren’t interested. But Chuck Negron wanted a “silly” song to break some of the tension among the band – so he pushed for this one.
Clearly, it worked out pretty well. They went back to Axton for another of their Top 10 hits, “Never Been To Spain”.
And I can’t talk about Three Dog Night without mentioning the band’s name. Yes, it comes from the Australian tale about how the natives handled cold nights in the Outback. On a chilly night, they’d bunk with a dingo (a wild Aussie dog). On a truly cold night, there’d be two dingos. And when it got really, really cold… yes, it was a three-dog night.
Tomorrow, a band that took a while to get a #1 song… but made up for it with back-to-back #1s that owned the chart for half a year.
No other songs reached #1 on April 17.