300. ‘Knock Three Times’, by Dawn

Three hundred number ones not out! Just… lots and lots more to go…! But oh, if only we had a better record to mark this milestone.

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Knock Three Times, by Dawn (their 1st of two #1s)

5 weeks, from 9th May – 13th June 1971

I have been trying to pinpoint the moment when the seventies would come into its own, when it would stop simply being the morning after the sixties. And the last couple of number ones have been such confident statements of intent, sounding very fresh and new, that I thought that moment had come…

But actually, this is the moment. Because has there ever been a more early-seventies sounding song than ‘Knock Three Times’? It sweeps in on horns and a soul-lite sway, and you can’t help picture tinted sunglasses, thick velvet, platform shoes and flared jeans aplenty. And the cheese. Cheese is oozing from the walls.

A man lies in his bed at night, listening to his neighbour dancing in the flat below. Hey girl, watcha doin’ down there? Dancing alone every night while I live right above you… He can’t sleep, but not because of the noise. One floor below me, You don’t even know me, I love you…

So he writes a note, and dangles it on a piece of string in front of her window below, with a proposition. Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me… Wo-oh, twice on the pipe, If the answer is no… Hmmm. It’s a cute concept, on paper, but the more you think about it, and the more you imagine yourself in the woman’s place, the creepier it seems. But hey, maybe this is just what people had to do before the Tinder. And there are sound effects, of course there are sound effects. Twice on the pipe… (Ting, ting)…

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I don’t hate it. It’s catchy. Corny, but catchy. One to enjoy in a cabaret bar with a Cinzano and lemonade. I will, despite myself, be humming it for the rest of the day. But five weeks at number one! Really? Can’t say I can see it as being that popular.

Dawn were basically lead singer Tony Orlando (Isn’t that just the perfect stage name for the singer of this nonsense?) plus a few backing singers. The two singers that he is most associated with, Telma Hopkins and Joyce Wilson, hadn’t joined yet – they were yet to knock. They will have by the time the band scores its second #1, with Orlando’s name front and centre… and for some reason they feature in the video below.

So, a bit of a damp squib on which to celebrate the big three zero zero. Back when I hit the double-century we celebrated with The Beatles’ ‘Help!’. Now it’s ‘Knock Three Times’… Bad luck? Or a symptom of the early-seventies slump? To be fair, we’ve had a great run recently: ‘My Sweet Lord’, ‘Baby Jump’, ‘Hot Love’, ‘Double Barrel’…. then this. Up next, though, a recap.

 

Catch up on all 300 #1s with my Spotify playlist.

14 thoughts on “300. ‘Knock Three Times’, by Dawn

  1. badfinger20 (Max)

    Whew…that took a nosedive…Help to Knock Three Times. It does remind me of many many moons ago with my mom watching their television show…now that I read the title it will be in my head all day…all day… and I haven’t even listened to the song…and I won’t or it will be two days.

    Dammit, I couldn’t resist. Now two days…he doesn’t look right without his mustache. Curse the UK for doing this to me!

    1. Haha. This one straddles the line between ‘catchy’ and ‘annoying’ very very closely… But I think it just about stays the right side of it. Orlando looks every inch the cheesy 70s lounge singer, and I kind of dig it.

      1. badfinger20 (Max)

        He really needs that mustache to me…maybe that is the way I remember him.
        It is an earworm…I guess that is a compliment because hey it sticks with you.
        I do remember watching their show…I was in love with Dawn.

  2. Tony Orlando and Dawn were one of the big names of what we would call the lame cheesy ’70s that many people forget about now. The ’70s wasn’t all about rock, funk, or disco but lame crap like the Carpenters, Captain & Tennille, Barry Manilow, and Donny Osmond. Tom Breihan was very harsh to the song in his review giving it a 1. I don’t think it’s that terrible mainly cause the music’s too upbeat to get angry over but the lyrics do come across as creepy as the modern equivalent of sexting a girl. And overall, the song is just alright which is my general attitude toward Tony Orlando & Dawn. Not the best, not the worst, just okay.

    Here’s the scene from 1995’s Now and Then where the main characters sing “Knock Three Times” while riding their bikes together

    Here’s “Knock Three Times” soundtracking a Scrabble game in a 2001 episode of Malcolm in the Middle

    1. I agree. I certainly wouldn’t give it a ‘1’. There’s a lot worse to come, and soon. ‘Knock Three Times’ just stays the right side of cheesy, and I have a high tolerance for catchy, well put-together cheese.

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  4. I liked them…when I was a kid. As an adult, it’s pure nostalgia and not much else.

    Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis. Greek dad, Puerto Rican mom, though he looks Italian. He caught the attention of Don Kirshner for songwriting.

  5. Yes it was catchy and perfect for this 13-year-old to hum along to 🙂 I loved it, my dad even bought a Chinese-language cover version of it in Singapore which, if you think this is cheese, has to be heard to understand the true meaning of “cheese”! 🙂 One day I’ll get round to putting it on Youtube…

    Tony Orlando was an early 60’s hit balladeer on hard times before Dawn, guesting on bubblegum pop and other stuff. His other hits of 1970/71 were much better, Candida, What Are You Doing Sunday? It was all downhill in quality after the next chart-topper….!

      1. Thanks for that. It is literally Knock Three Times in Mandarin. Not sure what I expected 🙂

        It was common in the 70s and 80s for big Western songs to get ‘covered’ by Chinese singers. Often the words were completely different. Doesn’t happen so much now, I don’t think.

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