An Old Fashioned Love Song

Album: Harmony (1971)
Charted: 4
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Songfacts®:

  • This was written by Paul Williams, who also wrote the Three Dog Night hits "Out In The Country" and "Family Of Man." All three songs were last-minute additions that wound up on the album and became hits.

    Williams is also a popular actor, appearing in the movies Smokey And The Bandit and The Doors. He was a frequent guest star on TV shows like The Love Boat (he wrote the theme song for that show) and The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. In the first season of The Muppet Show in 1977, Williams was a guest star, and he performed this song. This led to a collaboration with Jim Henson, with Williams writing music and appearing in Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas and The Muppet Movie.
  • In a Songfacts interview with Paul Williams, he talked about this song's inspiration. "I had a date one night with a young lady named Patti Dahlstrom," he said. "She was a songwriter. We were going to go out and have dinner. And right before I left for the date I had gotten a phone call that I had a gold record. And I walked into her house, and I said, 'Well, got a gold record for such-and-such, it just went gold. Kid did it again with another old fashioned love song.' It just came out of me.

    I went, 'Wait a minute.' I went over to her piano and I sat down, and it's the quickest I ever had a song come out of me. And it sounds like it. It's a really simple song, I wrote it in like 20 minutes. And it was a big hit."
  • Collaborating with Kenny Ascher, Williams wrote the hit "We've Only Just Begun" for the Carpenters, but this was the first hit he wrote by himself. He went on to write many more popular songs, including "You And Me Against The World" and "Evergreen."
  • Chuck Negron sang lead on this track. Along with Cory Wells and Danny Hutton, he was one of three lead singers in the band.

Comments: 13

  • Lzalewski from PittsburghDoes anyone know the origin of the excellent "scratchy" old-time organ intro to this song? I haven't been able to find anything about it. Maybe it was intentional, to sound like an old scratchy 78 rpm record?

    The best part of this tune is the ear grabbing intro.
  • Barry Amundsen from CaliforniaThere's a haphazard vocal breakdown towards the end (la da da...) with the repeating chorus but only on a certain version but not on the cassette version I had as a kid and not on the YouTube video of the Harmony album. But that other version is on a hits of the 70s CD that I have and it's the version that was played on the radio because I remember as a kid the first time I heard it like that I thought the DJ was doing that weird singing...
  • Cc Farrar from NycThree Dog Night, Chuck Negron, not in your lists. Easy to Be Hard, One, Eli's Coming, Joy to the World
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 1st 1972, Three Dog Night* became the first rock group to appear on a 'Tournament of Roses Parade' float in Pasadena, CA...
    At the time the group's "An Old Fashioned Love" was in its third and last week at #4 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, and it was also its peak position on the chart...
    And on December 26th, 1971 it reached #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart, it peaked at #2 in Canada...
    Between 1969 and 1975 the group had twenty-one Top 100 records; eleven made the Top 10 with three reaching #1, "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)" {for 2 weeks ion 1970}, "Joy to the World" {for 6 weeks in 1971}, and "Black and White" {for 1 week in 1972}...
    The group's bassist Joe Schermie passed away on March 25th, 2002 at the young age of 56...
    May he R.I.P.
    * Band leader Lawrence Welk was the parade's grand marshal.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, Tx'...comin' down in Three Dog harmony....'
  • Bill from Anchorage, AkAnyone besides me notice the glaring bass mistake in this song? I love this song but its obvious at 1:53. In 2nd chorus after "coming down in 3-part harmony" the bass goes to G-flat as if it were going back to the verse, rather than staying in A and repeating the reprise. How it got past the recording engineer and producer is beyond me!
  • Ed from Brentwood, TnIn regards to the above information that Paul Williams wrote "Evergreen"; he wrote the lyrics after Barbara Streisand wrote the music. Phil Ramone was the producer for that recording, btw.
  • David from Birmingham, AlPaul Williams originally pitched this song to the Carpenters, but Richard Carpenter wasn't interested.
  • B.l. from Barry, TxPaul Williams was also the voice of the Penguin on the ground-breaking "Batman: The Animated Series" and its follow-up "The New Batman Adventures." In the classic episode "Almost Got 'Em," several of Batman's rogue's gallery of villains are playing a poker game in a run-down dive, and begin to discuss how they almost "got" Batman, or in effect, almost killed him. They also discuss Batman's origins, and why he would wear a mask, to which Williams' Penguin speculates, "...perhaps he had a part of his face blown off by an overzealous mother." Good stuff twenty years ago and still today.
  • Rick from Belfast, Methe 1970's.......the decade of fabulous love songs....as this song testifies to....great medley
  • Dean from Birmingham, AlI used to think the lyrics were, "Coming down in STREET car harmony!" I never was one to know the lyrics of songs anyway!
  • Camille from Toronto, OhIt's the simplicity of the song and its pure sentiment that makes this timeless tune a classic. Three Dog Night gave it just the right touch by camping it up (in the best way) at the very end of the song. Paul Williams, I wish I had your gift of song-writing!
  • Ken from Louisville, KyThe playouts are different between the single and album versions.
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