Our Top Ten Bobby Womack songs looks at ten of the best from one of the most prolific artists of the Soul and R&B genres. Womack is one the most important musicians within these genres, having a career which lasted for over sixty years from 1952 all the way to his death in 2014. His earliest recordings in the fifties were done both as a part of his family musical group The Valentinos as well as with Sam Cooke’s backing group of which he was the guitarist. The Valentinos were the group who originally recorded The Rolling Stones‘ first number one hit “It’s All Over Now.”
After recording with these groups throughout the fifties, Womack went solo in the mid 1960’s. Many other artists recorded cover versions of Womack’s songs over the course of his career. He recorded some of the most timeless soul music ever made over consecutive decades, being extremely successful both critically and commercially.
Having produced twenty-eight albums as well as various complications over the course of his very consistent career, narrowing the best of Womack’s work down to ten songs is no mean feat. People who are already devout fans of his work will no doubt have their disagreements with some of the choices but for those who may be looking at this list to know where to start with, it will hopefully provide a service of getting them started from where they can then go on to discover his largely brilliant discography. So, what are Classic Rock’s Top Ten Bobby Womack songs? Only one way to find out…
# 10 – Please Forgive My Heart
Kicking off our top ten Bobby Womack Songs list is ironically his final ever single released in 2012 two years before his death. This song is taken from The Bravest Man In the Universe which was his first album in twelve years and first of original material since 1994’s Resurrection. Produced by Blur frontman Damon Albarn and Richard Russell, this heartfelt record has a sense of finality about, as Womack begs for forgiveness in the lyrics. Womack had been suffering from various health issues for a number of years and it would seem that he knew here that he did not have long left.
# 9 – The Valentinos- Its All Over Now
As previously stated, this song was originally by Womack’s family group and was written by him and his sister-in-law Shirley Womack. Although this version had moderate success reaching ninety-four on the U.S. Billboard upon its release in 1964, The Rolling Stones version was far more successful with it being their first number one hit. Many other artists have also covered it over the years, from Rod Stewart to punk band Social Distortion.
# 8 – If You Think Your Lonely Now
Up next we have a song from Womack’s eighties era from 1982’s The Poet. It peaked at number three on the Hot Soul Singles chart where it remained for four weeks. This was a very impressive feat considering that R&B was being largely outclassed by dance music in the charts at the time. In 1994 pop singer K-Cai had a hit with a cover of it. It is a song that show’s Womack’s more sensitive side which is quite a contrast to the hedonistic lifestyle that he had been living for most of the past decade.
# 7 – Woman’s Gotta Have It
Womack wrote this song with Linda Womack who is his brother’s wife and Sam Cooke’s daughter. Darryl Carter also co-wrote it. Taken as a single from the album Understanding in 1972, it topped the R&B chart and reached the considerably lower position of number sixty on the Billboard. It has had several cover versions from people such as James Taylor, The Neville Brothers and Taylor Hicks.
# 6 – I Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much
This song was the lead single from Womack’s album released in 1985 titled So Many Rivers. It was one of his final singles to chart high in the R&B charts where it reached number two. Another notable thing about this track is that it is the song for which Womack filmed his first ever promo video.
# 5 – How I Miss You Baby
This is another song that Womack wrote with Carter. It was recorded in 1969 and featured on the 1970 album My Prescription. The song’s lyrics are about a real-life depression that Womack felt after a woman he loved left him. The song was a comeback for Womack in terms of chart success as it saw him return to the R&B top twenty where it reached number fourteen and also got into the Billboard at number ninety-three.
# 4 – California Dreaming
Here we have the debut solo single by Womack released in 1968 and taken from the album Fly Me To The Moon. The song is actually a cover of a song originally by Barry McGuire and also has several notable covers from people such as The Mamas and the Papas and The Beach Boys. Although it may not have been an original piece of material, it was still a powerful introduction of Womack to the world as a solo artist.
# 3 – Harry Hippie
At number three is this song from 1972 which was written for Womack by Jim Ford. It was a dedication to Womack’s brother Harry who two years earlier had been stabbed to death by his girlfriend. Up until his own death, Womack frequently dedicated the song to Harry in his live performances. As well as being a beautiful tribute, the song was a success for Womack, being his second top forty hit reaching number thirty-one.
# 2 – That’s They Way I Feel About Cha
Womack wrote this song in 1972 and it became his first “crossover” hit to reach the top forty on the Billboard 100 where it reached number twenty-seven. It also got to number two on the R&B chart. It is taken form Womack’s Communication album. It is a crucial song for Womack, as it is a track that really got his solo career of to its start after departing from The Valentinos. There have been a few cover versions of it with the best one being by Aretha Franklin.
# 1 – Across 110th Street
At the top spot we have song that is known for its presence in the movies, first as the main song on the soundtrack to the 1972 film of the same name and then later in 1997 on Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown” for which it was also the main song. Released in 1973 as a single, it was one of the string of hits for Womack that year, spending around six weeks on the Billboard chart.