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Knock Three Times

by

Tony Orlando & Dawn



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song is about a guy who falls in lust with his downstairs neighbor. She doesn't know him, but he obsesses over her and leaves her a note one day with an elaborate plan to pursue a relationship: she is instructed to knock 3 times on the ceiling if she wants him, and to bang twice on the pipe if not. We don't find out how she responds, but he would probably have better luck if he just talked to her.
The producers of this song persuaded their old friend Tony Orlando (then working for the publishing arm of CBS Records) to record his lead vocal on a pair of demos after Bell Records' bigwigs didn't like the original lead singer.
Dawn was a group named after the daughter of a promotion man at Bell Records. The members of Dawn were Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent. Hopkins is an actress and has had roles on the TV shows Bosom Buddies, Gimme A Break and Family Matters. When this was recorded, however, there was no Dawn. Backup singers on the Candida album included Toni Wine (who wrote the song "Candida"), Jay Siegel (from The Tokens), Robin Grean and Linda November. (For more, check out our interview with Toni Wine.)
Tony Orlando was born Michael Anthony Orlando Cassivitis. He had hits "Halfway to Paradise" (#39) and "Bless You" (#15) in 1961 as a 16-year-old.
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Comments (10):

This song was not actually written by or for Dawn it was written by a british man, who was dating the woman in the apartment below he wrote it in the 1940's the only reason i know this is he is my mums god parent, he gave it to the record label for £25 as thought it was worthless, he did not want any fame from the song when it became a big hit so he is not mentioned ever however he was a talented man who deserves to be accredited for this amazing song
- Philippa, Newcastle Under Lyme, United Kingdom
Camille,Back the days and still now tenement buildings have pipes running outside the walls,,especially the steam pipes for heating,My moms hit that same pipe to alert the Superintendent of the building,there was no heat going up,lmao
- Jorge, Bronx, NY
This was one of the first songs I'd loaded onto my new ipod over 2 years ago, and it was amazing how much better it sounded than thru an AM transistor radio over 30 years ago! I was 12 when this was popular. This was the kind of song labeled "bubblegum" music which I guess means: not to be taken seriously. But it was & is an extremely catchy tune. As for the guy wanting some kind of answer in a semi-Morse code, that's because he's too shy to speak to her in person about his true feelings. As for exposed pipes, that just tells you he's living in a dump. So his life is kind of miserable & his one true solace is dreaming about getting together with this chick who lives "one floor below" him. I'm surprised a sit-com never evolved from this song!
- Camille, Toronto, OH
Back in 1971 when this was a smash hit, I was singing it at work one day. An older co-worker asked me how a young kid like me knew such an old song. He claimed it was from the 1930's....that might explain the "twice on the pipes" bit.
- Joe, Monroe, NY
At the second part of the second chorus (~1:48), if you listen carefully at the end of Tony's line "Knock three times on the ceiling...", you'll hear a tsshh sound. Tony was hitting the ceiling tiles in the booth for added percussion while he sang. The sound is one of the tiles falling.
- Kent, Lodi, CA
If I were the neighbor of the dude in this song and I was trying to sleep or file my income taxes when he was banging on the pipes, I would get some neighbors together, we would get some pipes of our own, and we would bang on HIM.
- Darrell, Eugene
The funny thing about this song is it assumes the two people in the song lives in apartments with exposed pipes, something that was highly unusual in the 1970s. Tony Orlando years later made a comment about the ridiculousness of that aspect of this song (which is damn catchy). The music on this song sounds very similar to Candida.
- David, Youngstown, OH
Supposedly you can hear ceiling tiles and plaster crashing down on the drumset as the song fades out ... due to a studio hand banging on the pipes for sound effects all night.
- Dave, Denver, CO
This songs was written by Larry Brown & Irwin Levine. They also wrote "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree", among other huge hits!
- Jeff, Hendersonville , UT
Their other hit at the same general time as K3T was "Candida," which used the same basic riff.
- Keith, SLC, UT
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