Our Top 10 Billy Paul Songs list will take a look at an award-winning soul singer. He is best known for his hit single “Me and Mrs. Jones.” He is also known for his hit album War of the Gods. Billy Paul was known for his diverse vocal style and his raspy voice. He was linked to the TSOP sound. Some of his hits include “Me and Mrs. Jones, Thanks for Saving My Life,” “Am I Black Enough for You?,” “Be Truthful to Me,” “Fire in Her Love,” “Let ‘Em In,” “Too Late,” “Let’s Make a Baby,” “This Is Your Life” and “Let’s Fall in Love All Over.” He wanted to be a singer like Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Johnny Mathis and Nina Simone. He was mostly influenced by female jazz singers. His high vocal range was why he preferred female jazz singers. Male singers didn’t do much for him vocally.
Billy Paul was born Paul Williams on December 1, 1932 – April 24, 2016. He started his singing career at the age of 11 when he was on a radio station called WPEN. He went to musical school for vocal training. He appeared in nightclubs when he was 16. His popularity began to grow while he was singing in clubs. He changed his name to Billy Paul to avoid being compared to songwriter Paul Williams and saxophonist Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams. He released his first two singles “Why Am I” and “That’s Why I Dream” in 1952. They received positive reviews. He released a few other singles. Critics were impressed that a teenager released the singles. His career changed when he was drafted in the army. He was in the army with Elvis Presley and Gary Crosby. After Billy Paul left the army, he pursued his music career.
He released Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club in 1968. It features the singles “Billy Boy,” “On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever),” “Just in Time,” “That’s Life,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and “Somewhere.” Ebony Woman was released in 1970. It peaked at number 12 on the r&b charts and number 183 on Billboard 200. It features the singles “Mrs. Robinson,” “Let’s Fall in Love All Over,” “Windy,” “Traces,” “Proud Mary” and “Everyday People.” Going East was released in 1971. It peaked at number 42 on the r&b charts and number 197 on Billboard 200. It features the singles “This Is Your Life,” “Magic Carpet,” “There’s a Small Hotel” and “(If You Let Me Make Love to You Then) Why Can’t I Touch You.”
360 Degrees of Billy Paul was released in 1972. It peaked at number one on the r&b charts and number 17 on Billboard 200. This is the album that helped and hurt his career. It features the singles “Me and Mrs. Jones,” “It’s Too Late” and “Am I Black Enough for You?.” The single “Am I Black Enough” ruined his career. It was a controversial single that he didn’t want to be released. We will go into more detail later. War of the Gods was released in 1973. It peaked at number 12 on the r&b charts and number 110 on Billboard 200. It features the singles “War of the Gods,” “Thanks for Saving My Life” and “I Was Married.”
Got My Head on Straight was released in 1975. It peaked at number 20 on the r&b charts and number 140 on Billboard 200. It features the singles “I’ve Got So Much to Live For,” “Black Wonders of the World,” “Be Truthful to Me” and “Everything Must Change.” When Love is New was released in 1975. It peaked at number 17 on the r&b charts and number 139 on Billboard 200. It features the singles “Let’s Make a Baby,” “When Love is New,” “People Power” “Malorie.” He released several more albums throughout his career.
Billy Paul had a promising career. He could have been a big pop star if it weren’t for the controversy surrounding his single “Am I Black Enough for You?.” He could have given up singing, but he continued to record music. He didn’t let the controversy stop him doing what he loved. This Top 10 Billy Paul Songs list will feature his best singles.
# 10 – Am I Black Enough for You?
The first single on our Top 10 Billy Paul Songs list is “Am I Black Enough for You?” from the 360 Degrees of Billy Paul album. The song has an r&b and soul beat. The controversial song is about the civil rights movement. He questioned whether or not he was black enough for America. It is a political song about racism. This song is the one that almost destroyed his career. It was a departure from his big hit “Me and Mrs. Jones.” In fact, this is the follow up single to that monster hit. Billy Paul didn’t want this song to be released. The producers went against his wishes and released it anyway. Radio personalities didn’t think the song was catchy or sensual like “Me and Mrs. Jones.” The song went on to get a resurgence when it was on the TV show Black Lightning.
The song might have been controversial when it was released, but it is relevant today. There are plenty of things going on in the world where this track will hit close to home. The music has the classic TSOP sound. The music has an incredible bassline to create the funky and soulful sound. It also has an impeccable horn section that completes the song. This song is proof that Billy Paul can record songs other than ”Me and Mrs. Jones.” This song was overshadowed by “Me and Mrs. Jones.” Radio stations wanted to stop playing his music when this single came out, but they made a mistake. The lyrics are moving and powerful. The message needs to be heard.
# 9 – Be Truthful to Me
The next song on our Top 10 Billy Paul Songs list is “Be Truthful to Me” from the Got My Head on Straight album. The song has an r&b and funk beat. The heartfelt song is about a man who wants the woman in his life to be honest with him. We all want people in our lives to be honest with us. This isn’t too much of a demand for him to want a woman to be honest with him. The lyrics will hit deep with anyone who is looking for honesty in their relationship. Billy Paul is direct with what he wants in his relationship. The song is told from a man’s point of view, but women can get something out of it as well.
The music is fast and upbeat. You would think that a song like this would have a somber beat, but he chose to make it upbeat. The song has a swing beat that is great for dancing. As soon as you hear the thumping drumbeat, it will have you out of your seat. The music also has orchestral swells that are worth listening to. The horn section is stellar. Billy Paul sings the song with a lot of passion. His vocals are breathtaking. He shows versatility by getting louder when the music gets louder. He has incredible vocal strength because he was able to keep up with the loud music effortlessly. He even belts throughout the song. He scats at the end to showcase his jazz roots. His background singers also do a great job supporting him in the background. This underrated song should have been a bigger hit.
# 8 – Let ‘Em In
This emotional song is from the album of the same name. The song has a funk beat. This is a cover of Paul McCartney’s song. Since this is a cover song, it’s time to ask the questions. Did Billy Paul take a risk covering this song? Did Billy Paul make this song his own? The answer to the first question is maybe. Paul McCartney is, well, Paul McCartney, the greatest musical artist of all time. Billy Paul took a risk covering a song by someone like Paul McCartney. The answer to the second question is yes. Billy Paul kept the theme the same, but he did change the lyrics. Billy Paul included Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King’s speeches in his song.
“Let ‘Em In” is a song about civil rights. Paul McCartney originally had this theme for the song. Billy Paul changed the lyrics a little to make it his own. Billy Paul also changed the melody of the song. Paul McCartney’s version sounds more like a pop-rock version while Billy Paul’s is more of a soul and funk version. Billy Paul’s version is faster than Paul McCartney’s version. Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff did a terrific job on the production of this track. They managed to do the impossible by covering a Paul McCartney song and making it sound just as good as his version. Billy Paul’s vocals are extraordinary. He sings in time with all of the beat changes. Fans of soul music may prefer Billy Paul’s version even though both versions of the song are very good.
# 7 – Thanks for Saving My Life
The redemptive song is from the War of the Gods album. The song has an r&b and funk beat. The tearjerker is about him thanking a woman for saving his life. This is a romantic gesture for him to sing a dedication to the woman who made his life better. It is the type of song you wish were dedicated to you. It makes you feel good to know that you made a difference in someone’s life. The lyrics will put a smile on your face while you listen to Billy Paul express his feelings towards the woman he loves. The lyrics are versatile enough that it can be to a friend as well as a lover.
The music is uplifting and engaging. It sounds different from the other songs Gamble and Huff did with Billy Paul. This doesn’t have the orchestral swells that Gamble and Huff’s songs usually have, but they did their thing with the music. Billy Paul also did his thing with his vocals. He sounds spectacular. His vocals are so heartfelt. He sings the song as if the lyrics hit close to home for him. He makes you feel every word he is saying. This song is excellent for his voice. It showcases the strength in his voice. He has exceptional control over his vocals. He knows when to belt and when to hold back. The background singers also did their thing in supporting him. They sound just as good as he does. Everything about this song is fire. The song is a little short, but it is definitely worth a listen.
# 6 – Fire in Her Love
This smooth song is from the Lately album. The song has an r&b and jazz beat. The refreshing song is a love song. He is expressing how he feels about the woman he loves. He describes how he can’t resist her no matter what. The lyrics will resonate with couples in love. If you are the type of couple that is irresistible to each other, this song will hit close to home. If you are not in a relationship, it will make you wish that you were with someone who makes you feel this way. The music is great for jazz radio as well as quiet storm radio. It is a ballad with tempo. The song starts off softly and then picks up.
This is the type of song you can dance to with the person you love. It is great for slow dancing. The music has a classic 80s r&b and jazz sound that can still be appreciated to this day. Billy Paul’s voice sounds a little different in this track. He is singing in a deeper pitch than the other songs on our Top 10 Billy Paul Songs list. You may be surprised to find out that he is the one singing this song because his voice sounds a little different. With that said, he still sounds amazing. He holds notes and belts in the song. This song was done when he was out of his prime, but he still sounds just as good as ever.
# 5 –It’s Too Late
The next song on our Top 10 Billy Paul Songs list is “It’s Too Late” from the 360 Degrees of Billy Paul album. The song has an r&b and jazz beat. The bitter song is about a couple who know their relationship is ending. You can tell when your relationship is about to end. Everything that used to matter doesn’t make a difference anymore. Billy Paul expressed this feeling excellently. This is a cover of Carol King’s song. Since it’s a cover, we are going to ask our questions as we normally do with cover songs. Carol King is known for this song. Should he have covered it? The answer to this question is no. This is one of her biggest hits and it is one of her signature songs, so he took a chance covering a popular track. He ran the risk of his song being compared to her song. When you think of this song, people immediately think of her version.
Did Billy Paul make this song his own? He did manage to make the song his own. He changed up the melody of this song. He made it a jazzier version than Carole King’s. He added soul to this version. He also changes the way the lyrics are performed. He gives the song new life. He changes it up to a point where you have to wait until he gets to the chorus in order to realize he is singing a cover song. He does an amazing job with his vocals. Billy Paul takes the song in a jazzy version, which makes it different from Carole King’s. You may be more familiar with Carole King’s version, but Billy Paul’s is a very good cover. It may not make you forget Carole King’s version, but it is worth checking out.
# 4 – This Is Your Life
This lovely song is from the Going East album. The song has an r&b beat. The masterful song is about not throwing your life away and thinking about what to do with your life. This song is a wake-up call about your life. It will give you some perspective on what to do with your life. This doesn’t have to be about a relationship. It can be about anyone who needs to open their eyes about their life. The lyrics are meaningful. It is the type of song that will make you think about life. The music starts off stripped down. It is just the piano, strings and Billy Paul. They are a match made in heaven. Once the rhythm section begins, the melody changes. It turns into a masterpiece.
Billy Paul’s voice is out of this world. He starts the song softly and then vocally soars. He has a baritone voice, but he was able to sing in falsetto without his voice cracking. He also surprisingly holds an astonishing note towards the end of the song. He pours his heart and soul out in the song. He sings the song as if it was personal to him. You can tell he feels every word he is saying. The background singers also do a fabulous job with their vocals. They belt in the background which was perfect with Billy Paul belting in the lead vocals. This is a song that you will want to hear over and over again. The song has a great message about thinking about your life. It also features excellent singing by Billy Paul.
# 3 – Let’s Make a Baby
The sexy song is from the When Love Is New album. The song has an r&b beat. The gorgeous song is about a couple who wants to make a baby. This is for the grown and sexy who are ready to make a baby. If you are a couple who want to go from two to three, this is the song for you to listen to. The lyrics are pure seduction. This ballad is perfect for when you are ready to make a baby. The song will put you in the mood. This song is probably responsible for a lot of babies being made. The title will let you know what you are in store for when you listen to it. This is baby-making music at its finest. This song will put Billy Paul on the same level as Teddy Pendergrass and Marvin Gaye when it comes to baby-making music.
Billy Paul made the term making a baby sound romantic and not graphic. We all know what it means to “make a baby” but he made it sound romantic and tender. The music is sweet and slow. It is the perfect beat for making love. The music didn’t overpower Billy Paul. It was a wise choice of the producers to keep the music soft so that Billy Paul wouldn’t have to shout to be heard. He kept his vocals tender and soft which made him sound seductive. His vocals grow emotionally as he pleads for his woman to bring a baby into this world. The background singer gets her chance to shine in the track. Her vocals are pretty good. The only minor complaint about the song is the length, but if you are trying to make a baby when you listen to it, it might be just right.
# 2 – Let’s Fall in Love All Over Again
The beautiful song is from the Ebony Woman album. The song has an r&b beat. The moving song is about a couple falling in love over again. If you are in a relationship, the lyrics will hit close to home with you. If you are looking for love, this song will inspire you to fall in love. If you are a couple who lost love, it will give you confidence that you will reunite. The music is soft and melancholy. It will make you think about your relationship. The musical arrangement is exquisite. You will be mesmerized by listening to the piano and the strings section.
Billy Paul sings the song softly during the quieter moments of the track. When the track gets louder, so does he. He has clear diction so you can understand every heartfelt word he is saying. Once again, the musicians were good not playing too loudly so they wouldn’t drown out Billy Paul’s vocals. He was able to keep up with the orchestration nicely. He sings this in a higher pitch. He sounds similar to Marvin Gaye in this track. Billy Paul belts throughout the song which makes the song sound even better.
This song may not be as popular as his biggest hit song, but it will make you feel just as emotional. He did miss an opportunity to hit a long note towards the end of the song. If he hit the note, the song would have been flawless. Despite the minor flaw, this song is worth listening to on repeat. It could have easily been number one on our list, but there’s no way we could finish this list without a particular song being number one.
# 1 – Me and Mrs. Jones
The number one song on our Top 10 Billy Paul Songs list is “Me and Mrs. Jones” from the 360 Degrees of Billy Paul. The song has an r&b and soul beat. The risqué song is about a man having an affair with a married woman. This is a controversial song because it is about a man having an affair with a married woman. It is not likely that singers would broadcast infidelity in a song, but he was up for the challenge. People may have been having affairs so this song will let you know that you are not alone. This is Billy Paul’s biggest hit so there was no way we could finish this list without this song being number one. This song helped him and hurt him. It helped him become a crossover artist, but every song after it was compared to it. He has other songs that are just as good as this song, but they didn’t have the same impact as “Me and Mrs. Jones.”
Listeners enjoyed hearing about the affair he had with a married woman. He managed to make you want to root for him to be with a married woman. His voice is so smooth and draws you into his story. The orchestration and saxophone blend perfectly with his voice. They were a perfect marriage. Only Billy Paul can make a song about infidelity sound romantic. His vocals are through the roof. He has good pacing with the track as he tells the story about he and Mrs. Jones having a thing going on. When you hear the first few unmistakable notes, you know exactly what is going on. You are in for a special treat. This song features one of Billy Paul’s best vocal performances. He hits a high note in the song that is not to be missed. There is a reason why this is Billy Paul’s greatest hit single. Everything about this song is pure perfection. You can get lost listening to this song.
Feature Photo: Kassus, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Billy Paul Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article.