Three Times A Lady

Album: Natural High (1978)
Charted: 1 1


  • This song was written by Commodores lead singer Lionel Richie, who explained in a 1979 interview with Blues & Soul magazine: "I wrote it back in 1978 and it was a very personal meaning to me. I attended the wedding anniversary of my parents and my father made a speech about how much he loved my mother and appreciated the way she had stood beside him for 37 years. It was beautiful and I started to think about my own life and how my wife stands by me, how she does so many things without being asked or thanked. So, I wrote 'Three Times A Lady' as a dedication to my wife and my mother. I think my next door neighbor summed it up when she said that if a man wanted to buy her a present, all he need do is buy her that record and he wouldn't have to say anything else."
  • This was a breakthrough song for the Commodores and for Lionel Richie as a songwriter. It crossed over to pop, easy listening and even country formats, setting the stage for further Commodores hits and Richie's massive solo success. In the same Blues & Soul interview, Richie said: "The song has given me so much personal satisfaction. I think it is every songwriter's dream to be totally accepted. And from the masses of awards that the song has won, it seems that the whole world really does love that song. It's a great feeling."

    This validation came after the Commodores song "Easy," also written by Richie, lost to Leo Sayer's "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" as the best Rhythm & Blues Song at the 1977 Grammy Awards.
  • The Commodores were more of a funk band before their massive success with sentimental love songs like this one. They had more hits in a similar style with "Still" and "Sail On," and Richie followed the formula all the way to the bank with solo hits like "Truly," "Hello," "Stuck On You" and "Penny Lover."
  • In the UK, this was #1 for five weeks. It was the biggest UK hit for Motown Records.
  • The Commodores had six members at the time, and they all wrote separately and competed to get songs on their albums. The band knew this track was a hit when Lionel Richie brought it in, and they made it the centerpiece of the album.
  • This was the first #1 hit Lionel Richie wrote, but far from his last: He wrote songs that were #1 US hits in each of the next seven years, giving him the record for most consecutive #1s by a songwriter who was never a Beatle (Paul McCartney wrote songs that went to #1 1964-1971).
  • Lionel Richie sang "Three Times A Lady" throughout his solo career, performing it more than any other song from the Commodores era. On his 1984 Cant Slow Down tour, he sang it as a duet with his opening act, Tina Turner, whose comeback album, Private Dancer, was released two weeks after the tour started.

Comments: 8

  • Ibukun from NigeriaLionel gave the world a wedding song ,also a song that lifts every soul ,and a song that you sing to your lovely one as an ode!What a staple universal gift to the world!
  • Rod from Boise, IdThe above information states that Richie holds the record for most consecutive #1's by a songwriter. This is not true, either taking the literal meaning of consecutive #1's or #1's in seven consecutive years. Paul McCartney & John Lennon wrote #1's for the Beatles from 1964-70, and McCartney wrote the #1 song "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" in 1971, giving him eight consecutive years of writing #1 songs. McCartney nearly extended that streak all the way to 1976, but he did not write a #1 song in 1972.

    Richie never wrote more than one consecutive #1 song in a row--subsequent releases after his #1 songs didn't make it to #1 until the next one, so the information cannot be about consecutive #1's, as is written above. [thanks, we fixed that - editor]
  • Scooter from Harrisburg, PaMichael in Lancashire, no, Carl Douglas was never a member of the Commodores. The group formed in 1968 while attending Tuskegee University (then Tuskegee Institute) in Alabama, and stayed together until Lionel went solo in the early '80s. I had the pleasure of meeting all of them in '81 at an after-concert party - some of the nicest people I ever met.
  • Aimee from Plant City, FlI always heard he wrote this for his grandmother. Thanks for the clarification.
  • Frank from Brampton, Ontario, CanadaLike many of Lionel Richie's songs, this one makes me cry even to this day. You can all think I'm a real sissy but that is how I feel about this one. Any song that can move you like the way this one does for me, then you know it has to be a good song.
  • Michael from Bacup, Lancashire, Englandmy friend asked me to check on Songfacts a rumour that Carl Douglas was once a member of the commodores. Can anyone substanciate this.
    thanks, Mike. UK.
  • Papa Burgundy from Bridlington, EnglandLionel's face was a model for Simba off the lion king, he later starred alongside elton john playing the recorder for can you feel the love tonight.
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiathis used to be the last song at The Maroubra Seals Roof Top Disco.....we sort of knew this song was coming up so we'd quickly scan the disco looking for a girl to dance with

    ahhh yes thems were the days
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