Forever No. 1 is a series that pays unique tribute to the newly deceased artist who completed the highest possible honor ours charts need to offer — a hot 100 No. 1 solitary — through taking an extended look ago at the chart-topping songs that made them part of this to exclude, club. Here, we honor the so late B.J. Thomas through a look in ~ his 2nd and final Hot 100 No. 1, the 1975 nation meta-weeper “(Hey Won’t you Play) an additional Somebody Done somebody Wrong Song.” 

Listeners mostly familiar with B.J. Cutting board as the performer the the better-remembered No. 1 fight “Raindrops save Fallin’ on mine Head” — or together the original singer the the breezy pop culture staple “Hooked top top a Feeling” — could be surprised to hear that his 2nd No. 1 came through a country song. Yet Thomas’ roots in the genre ran deep, dating earlier to very early love that Hank Williams growing up in Texas that eventually led to a cover of the nation legend’s signature ballad “I’m therefore Lonesome I can Cry” through his mid-’60s team B.J. Thomas and the Triumphs. Your cover climbed come No. 8 top top the warm 100 in 1966, becoming Thomas’ breakthrough hit.

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However, when higher success came with poppier singles like “Feeling” and “Raindrops” in the so late ’60s, cutting board drifted away from country for many of the beforehand ’70s. His rich baritone continued to be well-suited because that country, however, and also in a testimonial of his 1974 Very finest of B.J. Thomas compilation, critic Robert Christgau also posited that thomas never adopted rock due to the fact that “he was, and is, a nation singer .” That would be borne out a year later on when, at the finish of a multi-year dried spell ~ above the pop charts, Thomas would rebrand together a nation singer through the 1975 set Reunion.

Stewarding Thomas’ country reinvention was Tennessee fixture Chips Moman, that ran the American Sound Studio in Memphis — where dozens of fight singles and also albums to be recorded, and famous visits were paid by Elvis Presley and also Dusty Springfield for their respective In Memphis set — before moving come Nashville in 1972. Moman was likewise a famous producer and also writer. He developed the entirety of Reunion for cutting board while additionally co-writing the set’s lead single, “(Hey Won’t friend Play) another Somebody Done somebody Wrong Song.”

The story behind the song, as told by its writers and also performers come Fred Bronson in The book of Number One Hits, is a modest one, come say the least: Moman and co-author Larry servant didn’t create it for thomas or any kind of other singer in particular, and also it wasn’t motivated by any details experience of theirs. (“The man who composed ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ never had actually been come the moon,” Moman quipped to Bronson. “You do need to have some imagination.”) and if thomas himself found any specifically strong connection to the material, the wouldn’t most likely recall it anyway: He to be at the nadir the a debilitating drug habit if recording Reunions, and also according come Bronson, “barely remembers the record session” for “Somebody.”

This all probably should have been inauspicious beginnings for a potential comeback hit. But in the instance of “Another someone Done somebody Wrong Song,” it worked, due to the fact that the track wasn’t a classic tearjerker choose “I’m therefore Lonesome I can Cry” anyway — rather, it to be a sort of meta tribute come those timeless country songs and also the soldier of possibly less-immortal teen ballads lock inspired. The song doesn’t make any kind of grand claims around Thomas’ very own problems; all us know around his existing misery is that he “misses his baby,” and also that if he’s the end in the world, he desires to hear a song that renders everyone together sad as he is, so he doesn’t need to “cry every alone.” also the titular request is kept purposefully vague and somewhat lazy: thomas doesn’t treatment what the tune is or that it’s by, as lengthy as someone’s left in pain in ~ the finish of it.


The impact isn’t one of conveying any type of resounding devastation top top the part of thomas or his writers, but rather, simply a sort of weary exhaustion, which thomas doesn’t shot to escape v his very own sonorous however slightly delirious delivery. “Somebody” doesn’t also really have much in the way of verses to advance its story; outside of a two-line intro, it’s mostly simply the same pair of refrains circulated over and over until they’re pretty tired in their own right. However in its own way, it’s still as relatable and also recognizable as any kind of country song that describes heartbreak in excruciating detail. Instead, it pond the as whole emotional and also physical fatigue that comes with one too countless heartbreaks and also one too countless drunken barroom singalongs, until you barely also remember just how else you supplied to interact with love or music.

It additionally serves as a kind of riff on nation balladry in general, and the call the genre had long arisen by the mid-’70s as being mostly a auto for tales of near-cartoonish sorrow — like the old joke around playing a nation song backwards and getting your dog, your truck and also your wife back. “(Hey Won’t you Play) one more Somebody Done somebody Wrong Song” sends out up nation music by dealing with it as a genre full of many unavoidable and also interchangeable torch songs for bringing the the atmosphere down, where one is as great as another when it pertains to getting the task done. (Even the ten-word location — at the time the longest for a No. 1 solitary in warm 100 history — might be review as a wink at country’s predilection for long, parenthetically inclined tune names.) It never comes off together mean-spirited in its ribbing, though, due to the fact that Thomas’ vocal is for this reason straight-faced, due to the fact that the song’s breezy manufacturing is so gentle and convivial, and because thomas is together a organic fit within nation that it never feels like outsider commentary. Rather, that feels knowing and affectionate in the direction of the genre, choose toothless teasing between old friends.


In any kind of event, the sentiment linked in the mid-’70s, a time when country music was infiltrating the warm 100 like never before, with crossover stars choose John Denver and Olivia Newton-John helping the genre find typical ground with pop audiences. A month after ~ “Somebody” topped the warm 100 — replacing Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom,” and also lasting for one week prior to giving method to Tony Orlando and Dawn’s “He Don’t Love you (Like i Love You)” — two much more country songs complied with it come the height spot, in Freddy Fender’s “Before the following Teardrop Falls” and also Denver’s “Thank God I’m a nation Boy.” “Somebody” also found success through adult contemporary listeners, topping‘s Adult modern airplay graph (then known as simple Listening), which helped it come to be one of the best multi-format hits of 1975.

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Thomas’ operation as a country star in the mid-’70s was brief: Reunion failed to produce another crossover hit on the same level together “Somebody,” and also by 1976, Thomas had actually kicked drugs and pivoted to gospel music, recording spiritual albums for myrrh Records for the following half-decade. Yet he found his method back to nation music again in the mid ’80s, releasing New Looks ~ above Columbia. The album even spawned a pair the Hot country Songs chart-toppers, in “Whatever happened to Old-Fashioned Love” and also “New Looks from an Old Lover” — not specifically Somebody Done somebody Wrong songs themselves, but still worthy of a barroom singalong or two in their own right.