B.J. Thomas “Everybody’s Out Of Town”

On the cover of this record, B.J. Thomas is standing on a corner in front of a plaque in the shape of the state of Ohio—commemorating the Northwest Ordinance and the establishment of the state in which I was born—which is on the side of a building on the corner of Wall Street and Broad or Nassau, I think, in New York City, presumably very early in the morning sometime around 1970. He’s wearing a Russian gangster leather jacket, definitely concealing firearms, grey slacks, black boots, and sunglasses, even though it’s still pre-coffee and post-photoshoot breakfast before he’ll need them. He looks like a character from Mean Streets (1973), waiting for someone, for either signing papers, exchanging a large amount of money, or sex, or Jap adapters. On the back cover he’s moving on, to where the bagels might be, and on the inside cover he’s all the way up to Times Square—it has just rained, and this looks more like a scene from The Omega Man (1971), Matthias and the Family have retired for the day, and B.J. is looking for a matinee, maybe a screening of Woodstock (1970), for the 80th time.

So you might think there’s an Ohio connection, but no, B.J. is Billy Joe Thomas, from Texas (if he’d been from Ohio he’d maybe have been “Brian James Thomas”) and though some say that Texas is just Ohio with oil and cows… (no one ever said that). A quick bio: “Success, Love, Drugs, Jesus.” Though no man’s life can be summed up in four words (nor one: “Rosebud”)—(though it’s been argued that mine can be nailed down in five: “It sucks, you stole it.”) One of his earliest hits was recording a Hank Williams song, so obviously this guy knows a good song when he hears it, and that seems to have served him well. On this record we can find Fred Neil, Bacharach/David, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Paul Simon, among others. Every song on this record sounds kind of inevitable, like either I’ve heard them before (likely… either these versions or someone else’s) or will be hearing them sometime soon. It’s all very pleasant, even if it doesn’t blow my mind. I suppose I could put this record on when having someone over on a first date, or at least in my normal life fantasy I like to indulge once in awhile.

4 Responses to “B.J. Thomas “Everybody’s Out Of Town””

  1. 1 Rock Madison
    November 13, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    Interesting and ironic that you mention “The Omega Man” with this song. In that film’s original script, “Everybody’s Out Of Town” is written in as the song playing on the car stereo as Robert Neville is tooling around an empty Los Angeles. However, the final film used the theme to “A Summer Place” instead. Maybe the B.J. Thomas song was considered a bit too obvious, but it would have been a nice touch.

    • November 17, 2019 at 9:31 am

      Thanks for telling me that, Rock Madison, that’s really odd. That’s interesting that you read the original script for that movie, and also remember that detail! I love that Omega Man film. I guess the photo on the album cover really reminded me of the feeling I got from that movie– they should have used that song in the movie! I guess in both cases, shooting the movie in NYC, and taking the pic for the album, it’s this short period of the day after sunrise but before the real zombies appear.

      • 3 Rock Madison
        November 17, 2019 at 3:37 pm

        Thanks Ray. Actually my memory isn’t that good. Some years ago I downloaded the original script, you can still access it here. https://sfy.ru/?script=omega_man_early

        I saw the film when it came out and I was just finishing high school, always one of my favorites. If you read the script you’ll see some real differences. There’s a scene where Lisa finds another female Family member in a burial crypt, and it turns out she’s morning the death of her baby. For some reason it was filmed but deleted, yet the end credits for the film still reference a “woman in the crypt.” The lame happy music at the end was last minute, the original end theme is much more somber.

        The film was shot in and around Los Angeles, and the exterior Neville’s apartment was a townhouse in Glendale I believe. The helicopter crash occurs over Forest Lawn Cemetery which looks like a small town from above.

  2. November 22, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    Thanks! I don’t know why I was thinking of it being in New York. I guess it’s been awhile since I saw it, though it made a huge impression on me as a young kind. I don’t remember if I first saw it on TV or in the theater. I think the most striking memory from that movie is the character Anthony Zerbe plays. He’s a great actor. That character kind of scarred me for life!

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February 2019

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