Video Review

The Unbearable Tightness of Being in Polyester Pants: Three Dog Night – “Eli’s Coming”

Three Dog Night Eli's Coming  Note: This is a performance clip from a TV special, something I normally don’t mess with, but after watching it I knew I wouldn’t feel good in the morning if I let this one go. It’s from 1972, and that alone should explain everything that’s about to happen. Here we go…

We start out with a blurry image of what might be the drummer, followed by blurry images of anonymous hands playing a piano and tuning a guitar. Are we standing in line at a methadone clinic? (To be fair, the blurriness is probably the degraded quality of the film and not the result of some artistic director proclaiming “we must open with blurriness!” and then taking a defiant drag on a clove cigarette.) Then we get a shot of one of those Troll dolls (you know, those old-school asexually naked things with fuzzy hair) stuck on the end of a guitar, and I start to get nervous.

Then we pan over to the person holding that guitar, and I’m not trying to pass any judgment, but based on the facial expressions he’s making, he’s clearly stoned out of his mind, or at least has severe focus issues. But it’s all good, because we soon cut to somebody singing the opening bit of the song, and you forget all about drug usage because this singer’s hair is quite stunning. I’m not sure what he was going for with that look, but I hope he found it. Then we zip over to another singer (I have no idea how many of them we might meet)  and this one is wearing an even more expressive hairdo, one that Cher would later use during that artistic part of her career when she wore a thong whilst straddling a big gun on a battleship.

Okay, we’ve got another vocalist, this one upping the hair challenge by sporting a mustache that could rake the leaves off your front lawn. Oddly enough, he can’t help but giggle during his lyric delivery, which I take as another sign of recreational inhalants, but many of the women in the audience take as a cue to start screaming in worship. Since I was only 7 at the time of this video, I’ll just assume there were things going on in the world that I was clueless about as I played with my G.I. Joe and watched violent Saturday morning cartoons.

Mustache Man starts messing with the crowd, throwing in some “wooh!” noises, encouraging folks to scream some more so that it drowns out the song, which is kind of sad because he really has quite a nice voice. (But I think he knows that.) He throws in a cryptic Tiny Tim bit of falsetto flourish and then he passes the vocal torch to yet another singer, this one wearing a startling mini-vest thing that looks like something you would put on your Streetwalker Barbie Doll and not on your G.I. Joe. (Unless Joe was raised in Venice Beach.)

This magical vest causes the music to really ramp up, and we cut to the audience to see how they are enjoying things so far. I would say that they mightily approve, especially the one woman who appears to have just had a spontaneous orgasm. We head back to the stage, where all 140 lead singers are posing in a head-to-toe camera angle, letting us know that the Theme of the Day is overly-tight slacks that highlight your crotch. Just to make sure we understand this theme, the Cher-Hair Guy grabs the waistband of his pants and pulls them even higher, helpfully letting the world know that he hangs to the left.

We get some more audience reaction shots, and I do believe that this has now become some type of religious ceremony, with folks raising their hands to Jesus, or at least signaling to the traveling beer vendor that they are a bit parched. We have a brief re-visit to the stage and then we’re back in the audience, where everyone has been inspired to rhythmically clap with a frenzy that would cause psychologists to widen their eyes in alarm and smile in satisfaction, knowing that their client list is about to grow.

Stage again, where the camera appears to be zooming in toward the Mini-Vest Guy, a development that forces me to take another swig of vodka as reinforcement against what might happen. Mini-Vest proceeds to wiggle his hips in a manner that I would think is ill-advised, but based on the audience reaction, there was apparently nothing sexier in 1972 than somebody shifting from foot to foot like they have seriously got to pee. (This also might explain how Nixon managed to get re-elected in 1972. He always looked like he had bladder issues.)

Then some of the 280 lead singers start raising their hands in the air, officially transitioning us from a mere concert into a frenzied praise celebration. (I guess everybody is quite happy about those tight pants.) The Cher-Hair Guy is the most invested in this bit, flailing his arms like there were some vicious jalapenos in the bean dip, and causing Mini-Vest Guy to glance at him like “does it always have to be about you? Didn’t we discuss this on the bus coming here? And stop pulling on your pants, we get it, you have a penis.” Or something along those lines. I wasn’t there and nobody forwarded the meeting minutes.

Another quick shot of the audience, reminding us that none of the women in 1972 yet had access to the hair-styling products that would later allow Farrah Fawcett to dominate the planet, and then we focus back on Mini-Vest. He’s now whipping one arm downward like he’s in the final stretch of the Kentucky Derby, urging his stud horse to triumph over the other studs. I think he’s trying to be sexy with this mess, but it doesn’t appeal to me in the least, probably because I already had no intention of sleeping with someone who considers vests an aphrodisiac. But judging by the euphoric reaction of the women (and a few of the men) in the audience, they are clearly prepared to be ridden across the finish line in a frenzy of flying dirt clods. I guess you had to be there.

And I guess the cameraman relishes the fact that the audience is on the verge of massive sexual satisfaction, because he happily records more shots of people clapping and waving their hands as they approach the Big O, or find salvation in the Lord, or both. Whatever it is that they are doing somehow resulted in the creation of disco music a few short years later. No wonder plaid polyester suits became all the rage about this time. If a man in a mini-vest can help you find your g-spot, anything can happen.

And that’s how we wind down the video, with the 360 lead singers doing their thing, an apparently mesmerizing performance that totally enraptured thousands of people before cable TV was invented and allowed people to find peace and sexual redemption without leaving their homes. There’s a final shot of the audience members thrusting their hands in the air in a manner that would later become required movements by people attending mega-churches where nobody knows your name, and then we close out with Mini-Vest on the stage warbling the last bits of the song.

As the satisfied members of the audience finally relax, lighting a post-coital cigarette and tossing a donation into the offering plate being passed about, the 480 lead singers leave the stage and begin searching the phonebook for chiropractors who can help their testicles re-descend after being confined in restrictive pants at the prayer circle…

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally posted in Backup Dancers From Hell.

 

8 replies »

    • I’ve actually always liked this song, although I must admit that after seeing this video I do wonder if perhaps I was missing something about the deeper meaning. But if I had to pick a favorite Three Dog Night song, it would be “Never Been to Spain”. That one gets me, every time I hear it. (For the record, and I’ve babbled about this endlessly in the past, I think the period from roughly 1968-1975 produced the best batch of well-written, meaningful songs that we’ve seen in the modern era…)

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      • My nephew came to visit. He asked, “Got any classic sweet hippie music?” I stacked CDs high on the table. His eyes widened & I gained immediate respect. We started talking music, and haven’t stopped since. PS: Yup, all CDs from the time period you describe. You and I probably share the same playlist.

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        • I would imagine that we do share the same playlist. There was just something about that time period, musically, that allowed so many great singer/songwriters to come to the forefront. It’s so different from today, where “production” takes precedence over “content”. Although I miss the “warmth” that vinyl records have (to me, there’s a sound difference between vinyl and CD), I’m glad that we do have CDs that don’t wear out, because I play music from that time over and over, especially when I’m trying to get in the writing mood…

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    • Thanks, Margo! And you tell those fine folks at Subway that we’ve been bumbling about on this planet long enough to laugh whenever we feel like it. Except at funerals. That’s the one place where I generally try to behave. I don’t make any promises, but I try… 😉

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  1. Oh no, you mean I’m not suppose to laugh at funerals? I thought most speakers at these farewell ceremonies were stand up comics who had never met the deceased and were hired to make up stuff. Dear me, no wonder my ‘friend’ list is downsizing…and all over a few laughs.

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