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Three Dog Night

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

An influential American Folk singer named Earl Robinson wrote this in 1954 with lyricist David Arkin (who is the father of actor Alan Arkin). The song is about racism, and was inspired by a US Supreme Court ruling that segregation in public schools is illegal. The original Folk song (but not Three Dog Night's version) includes the line, "Their robes were black, their heads were white" which refers to the judges.
Jamaican Reggae group Greyhound recorded this in 1971, where it hit #6 in the UK. Greyhound went on to have 2 more hits: a cover of Henry Mancini's "Moon River" and another message song called "I Am What I Am," which was a plea for recognition in a white dominated society.
When Three Dog Night recorded this, it came at a time when civil rights was a big issue in America. The message of racial equality was emphasized by their use of a children's choir in the repeated chorus during the closing moments of the song.
Other artists to record this include Gregory Isaacs, Freddie McGregor and Inner Circle. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for all above)
Three Dog Night
More Three Dog Night songs
More songs inspired by Folk songs
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Comments (7):

Tom, can you read??? It says exactly that up above, Kevin already informed you of that fact and you still haven't bothered to look!!!! I just saw it but in case you can't scroll up I'll paste it for you, here it is.... Are you ready now?

The original Folk song (but not Three Dog Night's version) includes the line, "Their robes were black, their heads were white" which refers to the judges.
- wyatt, anywhere, United States
I don't know about you guys, but this has always been my favorite TDN song!
- Brian, Paris, TX
Eh, it's a POST-Flower Power, Feel-Gone song! (Flower Power was what I thought was back with the Hippie enui)

The GRAYHOUND version of this b/w "Moon River" was a one-and-only A&M Single. I don't know what label "I Am What I Am" was released on or released with.
- Dave, Oak Park, MI
Kevin, DC... Then the part about the Robes lyric should be posted under Earl Robinson, not the TDN listing. (or should be plainly labelled that that particular lyric was not used in the TDN remake).
- Tom, Green Bay, WI
Does anybody read the actual songfacts before they comment?!?

Tom & Mike - the black robes/white heads line is cleary in reference to the original composition of the song by Earl Robinson. They never said that TDN recorded those lines; they said the original lyrics included that line.
- Kevin, Washington, DC
Remove the "robes" part!!!!!! It's not in the 3 dog night version....okay? Typical flower power, feel good song.
- Mike, Fort Worth, TX
Better check the lyric sheet... There is NO mention of black robes or white heads. (Does anybody check this stuff before it's posted?!)
- Tom, Green Bay, WI
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