“Three” and The Three D’s

Posted by: Duane Hiatt in Commentaries Add comments

“Three” was a big number for The Three D’s. Not only was it a third of our name, but it seemed to be ruling the entertainment industry of which we were a part. The big gate keepers were all grouped into threes. There were three main movie companies, Columbia, MGM, and Paramount; three record companies, Capitol, Columbia, and Decca; and three radio/television networks, ABC, NBC, and CBS. If you were not connected in with one of them, progress up was a long hard road.

Speaking of which, even the road was dominated by the big three, Chevrolet, Ford, and Chrysler. We toured in our elegant camper on the backs of a succession of Ford trucks, a tough Chevy, and considered a Dodge once but changed our minds.

Sometimes in the hours and miles traveling between gigs I burned a few brain cells pondering the threes in our society. Profound questions like, “Why do so many jokes start out, ‘Once there were three…’ Why do they give a gold, a silver and a bronze medal in the Olympics? Why not a zinc medal for fourth place? If there were only two blind mice would the song be one third less popular? Why does the parade queen have two attendants, so she won’t fall off either side of the float? Or this heavyweight theological question, I have heard it said that in the battle for men’s/women’s souls, the forces of good and evil are relatively equal so the individual has to make the choice which side will win. Are there three on each side? Faith, hope and charity opposed by wine women and song? Some people believe good and bad things happen in threes. Could a gambler break the bank by loading up on his next two bets after he has won one? Or is gambling itself so bad that it overshadows his little winning spree? He really has two more “bads” coming and doesn’t know it. #2 he gets robbed coming out of the casino. #3 chasing the crook into the street he gets run over by an 18 wheel truck. Upside, is his spirit winging toward heaven now eligible for three good things at the judgment bar? These are deep metaphysical questions I have yet to resolve. I suppose you could write a funny book or a boring research paper on our society’s obsession with three.

But back to work. In our business our connection with one of the big three of the big three was Capitol Records. We were fortunate to be signed shortly before the Kingston Trio left Capitol, so it was a sweet spot to be dropped into. Having Capitol Records snuggled up next to us on our promotional material opened many doors.

Then came a fateful late night in the recording studio. Our producer kept reminding us that the song we were working on had the potential to climb the charts. He was experienced in the Hollywood music scene, and we listened to him respectfully when he told us we could have a hit on our hands here.

Just one problem, the more takes we did trying to get it perfect, the less it sounded like The Three D’s and more like a formula product rock and roll group. I hasten to add that contrary to what my children would tell you, I’m not against all rock, just bad rock, and to us this rock was starting to sink like a stone.

I said to our producer, “Dave, we feel like we are going the wrong direction.”

“Don’t you think it will sell,” Dave said.

“That’s not the point.” I lost him on that one. “We are not on track to be the next Beatles, but we have fans who love and support us. The way this song is going would be a betrayal of their confidence in us.”

The studio got very quiet. The backup musicians looked puzzled, or looked away.

Outwardly Dave tried to convince us that this was the current trend, and we’d be successful if we went along with it. Inwardly he must have been thinking, “How did I ever get hooked up with these corn ball country boys?”

As you might guess, by today’s standards this song would sound suitable for a church service. But for that day, we felt it was pushing the envelope of good taste, not what we wanted to portray.

We couldn’t reach a meeting of minds, so the musicians packed up. Dave stomped off shaking his head. We left with feelings of foreboding.

But the next day, Dave, the musicians, and the executives at Capitol Records all complimented us on sticking to our values, and assured us we were a credit to their company and had a great future with them.

Not.

They cancelled our contract, told us how naïve and foolish we were, and showed us the door.

It was a dark day in our career. But we would do it again. When you are a Christian trying to be worthy of the name, and you feel that impression from above as we did that night, there is one three that supersedes all the rest. That would be The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost.

“Three” was a big number for The Three D’s. Not only was it a third of our name, but it seemed to be ruling the entertainment industry of which we were a part. The big gate keepers were all grouped into threes. There were three main movie companies, Columbia, MGM, and Paramount; three record companies, Capitol, Columbia, and Decca; and three radio/television networks, ABC, NBC, and CBS. If you were not connected in with one of them, progress up was a long hard road.

Speaking of which, even the road was dominated by the big three, Chevrolet, Ford, and Chrysler. We toured in our elegant camper on the backs of a succession of Ford trucks, a tough Chevy, and considered a Dodge once but changed our minds.

Sometimes in the hours and miles traveling between gigs I burned a few brain cells pondering the threes in our society. Profound questions like, “Why do so many jokes start out, ‘Once there were three…’ Why do they give a gold, a silver and a bronze medal in the Olympics? Why not a zinc medal for fourth place? If there were only two blind mice would the song be one third less popular? Why does the parade queen have two attendants, so she won’t fall off either side of the float? Or this heavyweight theological question, I have heard it said that in the battle for men’s/women’s souls, the forces of good and evil are relatively equal so the individual has to make the choice which side will win. Are there three on each side? Faith, hope and charity opposed by wine women and song? Some people believe good and bad things happen in threes. Could a gambler break the bank by loading up on his next two bets after he has won one? Or is gambling itself so bad that it overshadows his little winning spree? He really has two more “bads” coming and doesn’t know it. #2 he gets robbed coming out of the casino. #3 chasing the crook into the street he gets run over by an 18 wheel truck. Upside, is his spirit winging toward heaven now eligible for three good things at the judgment bar? These are deep metaphysical questions I have yet to resolve. I suppose you could write a funny book or a boring research paper on our society’s obsession with three.

But back to work. In our business our connection with one of the big three of the big three was Capitol Records. We were fortunate to be signed shortly before the Kingston Trio left Capitol, so it was a sweet spot to be dropped into. Having Capitol Records snuggled up next to us on our promotional material opened many doors.

Then came a fateful late night in the recording studio. Our producer kept reminding us that the song we were working on had the potential to climb the charts. He was experienced in the Hollywood music scene, and we listened to him respectfully when he told us we could have a hit on our hands here.

Just one problem, the more takes we did trying to get it perfect, the less it sounded like The Three D’s and more like a formula product rock and roll group. I hasten to add that contrary to what my children would tell you, I’m not against all rock, just bad rock, and to us this rock was starting to sink like a stone.

I said to our producer, “Dave, we feel like we are going the wrong direction.”

“Don’t you think it will sell,” Dave said.

“That’s not the point.” I lost him on that one. “We are not on track to be the next Beatles, but we have fans who love and support us. The way this song is going would be a betrayal of their confidence in us.”

The studio got very quiet. The backup musicians looked puzzled, or looked away.

Outwardly Dave tried to convince us that this was the current trend, and we’d be successful if we went along with it. Inwardly he must have been thinking, “How did I ever get hooked up with these corn ball country boys?”

As you might guess, by today’s standards this song would sound suitable for a church service. But for that day, we felt it was pushing the envelope of good taste, not what we wanted to portray.

We couldn’t reach a meeting of minds, so the musicians packed up. Dave stomped off shaking his head. We left with feelings of foreboding.

But the next day, Dave, the musicians, and the executives at Capitol Records all complimented us on sticking to our values, and assured us we were a credit to their company and had a great future with them.

Not.

They cancelled our contract, told us how naïve and foolish we were, and showed us the door.

It was a dark day in our career. But we would do it again. When you are a Christian trying to be worthy of the name, and you feel that impression from above as we did that night, there is one three that supersedes all the rest. That would be The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost.

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