Video Review

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

Note: This is a performance clip from a TV special, something I normally don’t mess with when doing music video reviews, 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 stationed 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 published in Backup Dancers from Hell and in “Bonnywood Manor” on 02/22/16. Slight changes made. Sadly, there’s nothing I could do about the lousy quality of the video. For the curious, my fave Three Dog Night song is “Never Been to Spain”, and not just because they give a shout-out to Oklahoma, something that thrilled me as a wee lad in that state. (I was stunned that other people even knew we existed, let alone be deemed visit-worthy.)  Yours?


40 replies »

  1. ‘this one upping the hair challenge by sporting a mustache that could rake the leaves off your front lawn’ this has got to be one of your best lines! He really loves himself, doesn’t he? Read and watched while drinking my breakfast juice which was a mistake as I ended up snorting it instead 😂 👏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

  2. First – I LOVE Three Dog Night, and thou shalt not disparage them.
    But – the play by play description of the video was hilarious and the mini vest was truly ill-advised. Ahhh – 70s fashion was SO unfortunate. Why then is it coming back?!! It was bad then, time has not improved it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, I didn’t mean to truly disparage Three Dog Night. (My CD of their greatest hits has been worn down to onion-skin status.) These things just happen at Bonnywood. But this resurgence of 70s fashions with millennials running around wearing such? It strikes fear in my heart…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Three Dog Night had a string of hits in the 70’s, their biggest being “Joy To The World.” I thought their harmonies were best on “Celebrate” – and all of the songs were written by others – in case you didn’t know “Eli’s Coming” was written by a woman, the terrific singer/songwriter Laura Nyro, who also wrote big hits for Barbra Streisand, The Fifth Dimension and Blood, Sweat & Tears – here is my story about that if you are interested –

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The fuzzy/blurry bit was the editor or cameraman (we can say ‘man’, that obsequious “person” didn’t arrive on the verbal scene until after 1982) trying to do what is (I believe) called a ‘fade-in”…a term graphic artists and designers (not on any scene until after 1995 when computers began to be toys instead of cerebral tools) use to segue from scene to scene in a purely artistic way. Yes that was a huge run-on sentence. And the hair? I was 12 in that year and in Utah anyway the buzz cut and above the ears hair style for men was still the rage (I believe). It wasn’t until 1975 that some rebellion crept in and men-boys began to fight for the right to sport hair that defied gravity and any attempts at de-tangling. I had a wee flashback recently when I espied a youth (dude youth) wandering down a street in Salt Lake with an Afro that would have fit right in with the orgasmic frenzy of “Eli” in it’s original form. White dude. Up here in the boonies NOBODY (not even truculent youths) have wild hair, it’s farmin’ country and I suppose getting bits of cow dung and goat offal in one’s coiffure isn’t fun. Plus how does one get a ten gallon Stetson to fit OVER such hairs? No. Up here the Mormon missionary style of hair is the thing. For the men. Now the women? Well..that’s a tidbit for another blog sometime..

    Liked by 4 people

    • Here’s the underlying guilty secret that negates most any smart-ass comment I might share about hair: I once not only owned but USED a Flowbee. Yep, that wretched device one hooked up to one’s vacuum cleaner and then proceeded to CUT ONE’S OWN HAIR. I did this for well over a year (maybe two?) during a part of my Verizon tenure when I was so busy that I didn’t have time to schedule a haircut, let alone show up for the festivities. I have sinned greatly and deeply…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this! 😀 I was nine in 1972, but i remember Three Dog Night. They played quite often on the bulky console stereo in our living room, though i admit i was more into David Cassidy and his bubblegum at that age. This is such a fun post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! Two of my sisters also swooned mightily over David Cassidy during that time. They used to stand on the fireplace hearth (“the stage”) and sing his songs using those super-long log-lighting matchsticks as microphones…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks again for another morning chortle with my java. I dared to watch the “tube” and after laughing over the fact that I was ever that young, it brought back memories of Saturday nights on the Strip and the mayhem at The Whiskey when the Doors were there, dancing at the Hullabaloo in a miniskirt with a view all the way to Burbank, and ending the night at Pandora’s Box. It was a time when everybody shared their cigarettes and everything else. No wonder I was stupid enough to marry my first husband. At least he didn’t wear tight pants.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Love how you narrate the video! Too funny, and right on! I remember we saw them in concert in Oklahoma City. Just looked at my ticket stub that I saved in my scrapbook, and it was July 23, 1971, and it cost $6.00. Fun night. I like most of their songs, and a favorite would be ‘Shambala’ 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Six bucks, eh? Things were so much easier and affordable back in the day. It’s great that you still have the ticket stub. I wish I had saved more things from my earlier days, but I was much more invested in chasing my life dreams and I didn’t hang on to many of the things that I should have. For the record, my first concert was Elton John and it was a fantastic show, making it very hard for any of the concerts after that to measure up… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I have a problem with saving all kinds of things, probably too much, but it’s fun to look back at them. Elton John! Wow, it would have to be something extra special to top that for a first concert! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Your link led me to spend the last half hour listening to Three Dog Night videos. (That wasn’t a complaint.)
    I’m fond of Mama Told Me Not to Come, mainly for the groovy vibe at the beginning. Shambala is also a favorite, it’s so darn happy! 🙂

    I know what you mean about hearing your state in a song. If you happen to visit a certain small town in my state, they have a corner set apart for tourists to take their pictures. The sign says “I’m standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona.” It truly is the only reason you’d want to go to Winslow. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Both Three Dog Night and The Eagles confirm my long-held theory that some of the best songwriting, ever, occurred between roughly 1968 and 1975. There are some exceptions, of course, but I just love tuning in the 70s station on Sirius XM and then ripping off the knob, singing along for hours until threatened with violence… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The first concert I attended was a Three Dog Night concert.

    We arrived at the venue to be searched by security which scared the hell out of me. The stack of portable cassette recorders besides the guards was taller than me. Our seats were in the nosebleed section and we were lost in a sea of long hair. Three grade eight students wondering aroundt. A kind man, who I now understand was carefully medicated guided us to our seats. I thought it was neat that they were burning incense in the venue. My friends laughed at me.

    To this day I remember “The Wizard” keyboard solo with flares firing off his keyboard and how dangerous it was.

    We went for the music and left with an experience for a lifetime.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And really, your last line sums it all up. If we don’t give things a try, there will never be any measurable reward. As I mentioned in response to one of the earlier comments, my first “official” concert was Elton John, who had his performances down to an art by the time my innocent little ass wandered into a reefer-scented arena. On top of that, he sang and played for three solid hours. I had no idea at the time that 90% of the concerts after that couldn’t even begin to compare…


      • I’m guessing you’d find it well worth your effort. TW would definitely be on my Mount Rushmore of artist/musicians.
        He is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, so before taking too deep a plunge into the music you may want to check out things like his press conference prior to begining a tour a few years ago.
        Also there’s a new documentary that was recently available for free Amazon prime TV

        Liked by 1 person

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