Three Dog Night – Mama Told Me Not To Come

First Hit #1: July 11, 1970

One thing I’ve noticed about 1970 is that we’re seeing trends diverge. In most years, while you hear a variety and a lot of different influences, there are clear through lines between trends and style. For all the differences between groups, they’re all actually getting influenced by many of the same sounds, just going in different directions with them. One step removed, and we get groups that really don’t share much similarity at all in sound, even if they’re evolved from a common ancestor somewhere down the line. You get a group like the Jackson 5, which is high energy pop with a high level of polish and energy, and it shares the same charts with Mama Told Me Not to Come, which deliberately eschews polish and energy. This is a down, dirty, lethargic song and is deliberately slow. The subject is a wild party, but the song seems to come from the end stages, where people are sitting around barely coherent. It builds an atmosphere that is somewhat opposed to the bright and cheery world evoked by other groups on the chart. There’s still a common ancestor somewhere, structurally this isn’t far off what others are doing, but we’re definitely hearing musical evolution, as two branches split and start to evolve in different directions.

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