Victor Wooten – Isn’t She Lovely, The Lesson, A Little Buzz


 



 

Bassist Victor Wooten began his musical career early. At age three, his brother Regi taught him to play bass, and at age five he made his stage debut with his four older brothers in the Wootens, playing songs by R&B mainstays like James Brown, Sly & the Family Stone, War, and Curtis Mayfield. After playing regional tours and opening for acts like Mayfield and War, the Wootens recorded an album in 1985. However, the record received little commercial or critical response, and eventually the Wooten Brothers found other gigs.

By 1988, Victor Wooten moved to Nashville to join a rock band, and the following year met Bйla Fleck, the banjo player for New Grass Revival. Fleck was forming a jazz group to appear on a TV show; he recruited Wooten, his brother Roy on drums, and Howard Levy on keyboards and harmonica. As the Flecktones, the group earned numerous accolades, including four Grammy nominations and a number one album on the jazz charts.

As the ’90s progressed, Wooten added a solo recording career and numerous collaborations to his duties in the Flecktones. Along with solo albums like 1996’s A Show of Hands and the following year’s What Did He Say?, Wooten contributed to albums by friends like David Grier, Paul Brady, and Branford Marsalis’ Buckshot LeFonque. 1999 saw the release of his third solo album, Yin-Yang, which featured appearances by Fleck, Bootsy Collins, and the Wooten Brothers.

– Heather Phares (All Music Guide)

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Orientation: A Short Story by Daniel Orozco

Orientation

by Daniel Orozco

Those are the offices and these are the cubicles. That’s my cubicle there, and this is your cubicle. This is your phone. Never answer your phone. Let the Voicemail System answer it. This is your Voicemail System Manual. There are no personal phone calls allowed. We do, however, allow for emergencies. If you must make an emergency phone call, ask your supervisor first. If you can’t find your supervisor, ask Phillip Spiers, who sits over there. He’ll check with Clarissa Nicks, who sits over there. If you make an emergency phone call without asking, you may be let go.These are your in- and out-boxes. All the forms in your inbox must be logged in by the date shown in the upper- left- hand corner, initialed by you in the upper-right-hand corner, and distributed to the Processing Analyst whose name is numerically coded in the lower-left-hand corner. The lower-right-hand corner is left blank. Here’s your Processing Analyst Numerical Code Index. And here’s your Forms Processing Procedures Manual.

You must pace your work. What do I mean? I’m glad you asked that. We pace our work according to the eight-hour workday. If you have twelve hours of work in your in-box, for example, you must compress that work into the eight-hour day. If you have one hour of work in your in-box, you must expand that work to fill the eight- hour day. That was a good question. Feel free to ask questions. Ask too many questions, however, and you may be let go.

That is our receptionist. She is a temp. We go through receptionists here. They quit with alarming frequency. Be polite and civil to the temps. Learn their names, and invite them to lunch occasionally. But don’t get close to them, as it only makes it more difficult when they leave. And they always leave. You can be sure of that.

The men’s room is over there. The women’s room is over there. John LaFountaine, who sits over there, uses the women’s room occasionally. He says it is accidental. We know better, but we let it pass. John LaFountaine is harmless, his forays into the forbidden territory of the women’s room simply a benign thrill, a faint blip on the dull, flat line of his life.

Russell Nash, who sits in the cubicle to your left, is in love with Amanda Pierce, who sits in the cubicle to your right. They ride the same bus together after work. For Amanda Pierce, it is just a tedious bus ride made less tedious by the idle nattering of Russell Nash. But for Russell Nash, it is the highlight of his day. It is the highlight of his life. Russell Nash has put on forty pounds and grows fatter with each passing month, nibbling on chips and cookies while peeking glumly over the partitions at Amanda Pierce and gorging himself at home on cold pizza and ice cream while watching adult videos on TV.

Amanda Pierce, in the cubicle to your right, has a six-year old son named Jamie, who is autistic. Her cubicle is plastered from top to bottom with the boy’s crayon artwork—sheet after sheet of precisely drawn concentric circles and ellipses, in black and yellow. She rotates them every other Friday. Be sure to comment on them. Amanda Pierce also has a husband, who is a lawyer. He subjects her to an escalating array of painful and humiliating sex games, to which Amanda Pierce reluctantly submits. She comes to work exhausted and freshly wounded each morning, wincing from the abrasions on her breasts, or the bruises on her abdomen, or the second- degree burns on the backs of her thighs.

But we’re not supposed to know any of this. Do not let on. If you let on, you may be let go.

Amanda Pierce, who tolerates Russell Nash, is in love with Albert Bosch, whose office is over there. Albert Bosch, who only dimly registers Amanda Pierce’s existence, has eyes only for Ellie Tapper, who sits over there. Ellie Tapper, who hates Albert Bosch, would walk through fire for Curtis Lance. But Curtis Lance hates Ellie Tapper. Isn’t the world a funny place? Not in the ha-ha sense, of course.

Anika Bloom sits in that cubicle. Last year, while reviewing quarterly reports in a meeting with Barry Hacker, Anika Bloom’s left palm began to bleed. She fell into a trance, stared into her hand, and told Barry Hacker when and how his wife would die. We laughed it off. She was, after all, a new employee. But Barry Hacker’s wife is dead. So unless you want to know exactly when and how you’ll die, never talk to Anika Bloom.

Colin Heavey sits in that cubicle over there. He was new once, just like you. We warned him about Anika Bloom. But at last year’s Christmas Potluck he felt sorry for her when he saw that no one was talking to her. Colin Heavey brought her a drink. He hasn’t been himself since. Colin Heavey is doomed. There’s nothing he can do about it, and we are powerless to help him. Stay away from Colin Heavey. Never give any of your work to him. If he asks to do something, tell him you have to check with me. If he asks again, tell him I haven’t gotten back to you.

This is the fire exit. There are several on this floor, and they are marked accordingly. We have a Floor Evacuation Review every three months, and an Escape Route Quiz once a month. We have our Biannual Fire Drill twice a year, and our Annual Earthquake Drill once a year. These are precautions only. These things never happen.

For your information, we have a comprehensive health plan. Any catastrophic illness, any unforeseen tragedy, is completely covered. All dependents are completely covered. Larry Bagdikian, who sits over there, has six daughters. If anything were to happen to any of his girls, or to all of them, if all six were to simultaneously fall victim to illness or injury—stricken with a hideous degenerative muscle disease or some rare toxic blood disorder, sprayed with semiautomatic gunfire while on a class field trip, or attacked in their bunk beds by some prowling nocturnal lunatic—if any of this were to pass, Larry’s girls would all be taken care of. Larry Bagdikian would not have to pay one dime. He would have nothing to worry about.

We also have a generous vacation and sick leave policy. We have an excellent disability insurance plan. We have a stable and profitable pension fund. We get group discounts for the symphony, and block seating at the ballpark. We get commuter ticket books for the bridge. We have direct deposit. We are all members of Costco.

This is our kitchenette. And this, this is our Mr. Coffee. We have a coffee pool into which we each pay two dollars a week for coffee, filters, sugar, and Coffee-mate. If you prefer Cremora or half-and-half to Coffee-mate, there is a special pool for three dollars a week. If you prefer Sweet’N Low to sugar, there is a special pool for two-fifty a week. We do not do decaf. You are allowed to join the coffee pool of your choice, but you are not allowed to touch the Mr. Coffee.

This is the micro wave oven. You are allowed to heat food in the microwave oven. You are not, however, allowed to cook food in the microwave oven.

We get one hour for lunch. We also get one fifteen-minute break in the morning and one fifteen-minute break in the afternoon. Always take your breaks. If you skip a break, it is gone forever. For your information, your break is a privilege, not a right. If you abuse the break policy, we are authorized to rescind your breaks. Lunch, however, is a right, not a privilege. If you abuse the lunch policy, our hands will be tied and we will be forced to look the other way. We will not enjoy that.

This is the refrigerator. You may put your lunch in it. Barry Hacker, who sits over there, steals food from this refrigerator. His petty theft is an outlet for his grief. Last New Year’s Eve, while kissing his wife, a blood vessel burst in her brain. Barry Hacker’s wife was two months pregnant at the time and lingered in a coma for half a year before she died. It was a tragic loss for Barry Hacker. He hasn’t been himself since. Barry Hacker’s wife was a beautiful woman. She was also completely covered. Barry Hacker did not have to pay one dime. But his dead wife haunts him. She haunts all of us. We have seen her, reflected in the monitors of our computers, moving past our cubicles. We have seen the dim shadow of her face in our photocopies. She pencils herself in in the receptionist’s appointment book with the notation “To see Barry Hacker.” She has left messages in the receptionist’s Voicemail box, messages garbled by the electronic chirrups and buzzes in the phone line, her voice echoing from an immense distance within the ambient hum. But the voice is hers. And beneath the voice, beneath the tidal whoosh of static and hiss, the gurgling and crying of a baby can be heard.

In any case, if you bring a lunch, put a little something extra in the bag for Barry Hacker. We have four Barrys in this office. Isn’t that a coincidence?

This is Matthew Payne’s office. He is our Unit Manager, and his door is always closed. We have never seen him, and you will never see him. But he is there. You can be sure of that. He is all around us.

This is the Custodian’s Closet. You have no business in the Custodian’s Closet.

And this, this is our Supplies Cabinet. If you need supplies, see Curtis Lance. He will log you in on the Supplies Cabinet Authorization Log, then give you a Supplies Authorization Slip. Present your pink copy of the Supplies Authorization Slip to Ellie Tapper. She will log you in on the Supplies Cabinet Key Log, then give you the key. Because the Supplies Cabinet is located outside the Unit Manager’s office, you must be very quiet. Gather your supplies quietly. The Supplies Cabinet is divided into four sections. Section One contains letterhead stationery, blank paper and envelopes, memo pads and note pads, and so on. Section Two contains pens and pencils and typewriter and printer ribbons, and the like. In Section Three we have erasers, correction fluids, transparent tapes, glue sticks, et cetera. And in Section Four we have paper clips and pushpins and scissors and razor blades. And here are the spare blades for the shredder. Do not touch the shredder, which is located over there. The shredder is of no concern to you.

Gwendolyn Stich sits in that office there. She is crazy about penguins and collects penguin knickknacks: penguin posters and coffee mugs and stationery, penguin stuffed animals, penguin jewelry, penguin sweaters and T-shirts and socks. She has a pair of penguin fuzzy slippers she wears when working late at the office. She has a tape cassette of penguin sounds, which she listens to for relaxation. Her favorite colors are black and white. She has personalized license plates that read PEN GWEN. Every morning, she passes through all the cubicles to wish each of us a good morning. She brings Danish on Wednesdays for Hump Day morning break, and doughnuts on Fridays for TGIF afternoon break. She organizes the Annual Christmas Potluck and is in charge of the Birthday List. Gwendolyn Stich’s door is always open to all of us. She will always lend an ear and put in a good word for you; she will always give you a hand, or the shirt off her back, or a shoulder to cry on. Because her door is always open, she hides and cries in a stall in the women’s room. And John LaFountaine—who, enthralled when a woman enters, sits quietly in his stall with his knees to his chest—John LaFountaine has heard her vomiting in there. We have come upon Gwendolyn Stich huddled in the stairwell, shivering in the updraft, sipping a Diet Mr. Pibb and hugging her knees. She does not let any of this interfere with her work. If it interfered with her work, she might have to be let go.

Kevin Howard sits in that cubicle over there. He is a serial killer, the one they call the Carpet Cutter, responsible for the mutilations across town. We’re not supposed to know that, so do not let on. Don’t worry. His compulsion inflicts itself on strangers only, and the routine established is elaborate and unwavering. The victim must be a white male, a young adult no older than thirty, heavyset, with dark hair and eyes, and the like. The victim must be chosen at random before sunset, from a public place; the victim is followed home and must put up a struggle; et cetera. The carnage inflicted is precise: the angle and direction of the incisions, the layering of skin and muscle tissue, the rearrangement of visceral organs, and so on. Kevin Howard does not let any of this interfere with his work. He is, in fact, our fastest typist. He types as if he were on fire. He has a secret crush on Gwendolyn Stich and leaves a red-foil-wrapped Hershey’s Kiss on her desk every afternoon. But he hates Anika Bloom and keeps well away from her. In his presence, she has uncontrollable fits of shaking and trembling. Her left palm does not stop bleeding.

In any case, when Kevin Howard gets caught, act surprised. Say that he seemed like a nice person, a bit of a loner, perhaps, but always quiet and polite.

This is the photocopier room. And this, this is our view. It faces southwest. West is down there, toward the water. North is back there. Because we are on the seventeenth floor, we are afforded a magnificent view. Isn’t it beautiful? It overlooks the park, where the tops of those trees are. You can see a segment of the bay between those two buildings over there. You can see the sun set in the gap between those two buildings over there. You can see this building reflected in the glass panels of that building across the way. There. See? That’s you, waving. And look there. There’s Anika Bloom in the kitchenette, waving back.

Enjoy this view while photocopying. If you have problems with the photocopier, see Russell Nash. If you have any questions, ask your supervisor. If you can’t find your supervisor, ask Phillip Spiers. He sits over there. He’ll check with Clarissa Nicks. She sits over there. If you can’t find them, feel free to ask me. That’s my cubicle. I sit in there.

Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You – Glenn Medeiros


If I had to live my life without you near me
The days would all be empty
The nights would seem so long
With you I see forever oh so clearly
I might have been in love before
But it never felt this strong
Our dreams are young and we both know
They’ll take us where we want to go
Hold me now, touch me now
I don’t want to live without you

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you
You ought to know by now how much I love you
One thing you can be sure of
I’ll never ask for more than your love

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you
You ought to know by now how much I love you
The world may change my whole life through
But nothing’s gonna change my love for you

If the road ahead is not so easy
Our love will lead the way for us
Like a guiding star
I’ll be there for you if you should need me
You don’t have to change a thing
I love you just the way you are
So come with me and share the view
I’ll help you see forever too
Hold me now, touch me now
I don’t want to live without you

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you
You ought to know by now how much I love you
One thing you can be sure of
I’ll never ask for more than your love

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you
You ought to know by now how much I love you
The world may change my whole life through
But nothing’s gonna change my love for you

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you
You ought to know by now how much I love you
One thing you can be sure of
I’ll never ask for more than your love, my love

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you
You ought to know by now how much I love you
One thing you can be sure of
I’ll never ask for more than your love

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you
You ought to know by now how much I love you
The world may change my whole life through
But nothing’s gonna change my love for you

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you
You ought to know by now how much I love you
One thing you can be sure of, sure of
I’ll never ask for more than your love, my love

Songwriters
Goffin, Gerry / Masser, Michael

Phenomenal Woman – Poem by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

If – Poem by Rudyard Kipling

If…

Poem by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

Puuung – Love Is In Small Things

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BILLY PAUL – ME AND MRS JONES – 1972

When most people think of Billy Paul, one song comes to mind: the timeless classic “Me & Mrs. Jones.” But Billy Paul’s music catalogue is much more than that one smash hit; he has created some of the most beautiful, thought provoking and lasting music ever made.

Billy Paul was born and raised in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He began his singing career when he was only twelve years old, singing on local radio shows. It was from listening to his family’s collection of 78 rpm records that he began developing a vocal style that would combine jazz, R&B and pop.

Billy attended Temple University, West Philadelphia Music School and Granoff School of Music for formal vocal training. He eventually became known through his performances on Philadelphia’s underground music circuit.

He cut his first record entitled “Why Am I” with a trio he formed on Jubilee Records before being drafted into the Armed Forces. After his discharge, he joined the new record label Dawn Records and had a brief stint as a member of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. It was during this time he met producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. He eventually went solo and recorded his first album, Feeling Good at the Cadillac Club, produced by Gamble & Huff on the Gamble label. His second album, Ebony Woman, was released on Gamble & Huff’s Neptune label. His third album, Going East, was released on Gamble & Huff’s newly formed Philadelphia International Records label. This album and Ebony Woman made some headway as the record-buying public became familiar with Billy and his trademark, distinctive singing voice.

But it was “Me & Mrs. Jones” that generated great buzz and excitement about the Philadelphia-born singer. Released in September 1972, this jazzy/R&B tune, literally about dating someone else’s wife, was a monstrous hit, soaring to #1 on the soul charts for four weeks in December 1972 and #1 on the pop charts in January 1973. It sold well over one million copies and made Billy Paul a superstar and earned him a Grammy Award. This unforgettable track garnered widespread airplay on many radio stations, got played on a lot of turntables, in bar jukeboxes and in blue light in the basement parties. It has also been said many babies were conceived off of this song.

With a song as hot as “Me & Mrs. Jones” comes appearances on television, and Billy made several appearances on all of the major television shows. The first show he appeared on to promote “Me & Mrs. Jones” was none other than Soul Train on its October 1972 taping.

Host Don Cornelius said in his introduction, “For the most part it’s the funky soul sounds and the heavy rock sounds that seem to dominate today’s music scene, and for a song stylist to make his way through all of that, he has to be pretty heavy.” From the time Billy sang the opening lines of “Me & Mrs. Jones,” the Soul Train Gang screamed and yelled. He received a thunderous ovation afterwards and shouts of “Right on!” from the enthusiastic dancers when he finished his performance.

In the interview, Don told Billy, “I guess I don’t have to tell you that ‘Me & Mrs. Jones’ is the baddest song in the world today.” When he asked Billy how he would define himself as an artist, Billy said, “Well, I think I would describe myself primarily as a singer that’s dealing with what’s happening and what’s relevant now.” He further stated that the theme of “Me & Mrs. Jones” is something that’s been happening for centuries and is more open today.

Don: “I also detect the possibility that you might have a jazz background. Is that correct or incorrect?”

Billy: “That’s very correct. I’ve been singing since I was 11. At 16 I was working with Charlie Parker. He’s one of the giants. Coming from a jazz background it was one of the greatest things to happen for any singer because of the fact I took an interest at heart but learned to build on it. When I say that I just didn’t want to be labeled as a jazz singer but like my new album, the one that ‘Me & Mrs. Jones’ is on, it’s called 360 Degrees of Billy Paul and that means I’m covering all of the territories.”

Billy later performed “This is Your Life,” a nice tune about celebrating one’s life which was taken from his previous album Going East.

It was unusual for an artist to return to the following month’s Soul Train taping to perform the same song he or she did on the previous taping, but Billy did just that on the program’s November taping to not only further promote “Me & Mrs. Jones,” but his newly released 360 Degrees of Billy Paul album. “Me & Mrs. Jones” was indeed such a popular record that Don could not resist bringing him back to his show during the height of the song’s massive popularity.

While holding Billy’s new album, Don said, “His great recording of ‘Me & Mrs. Jones’ will go down as one of the biggest successes of the year 1972. Since he visited us last, his album 360 Degrees of Billy Paul has been released on Philadelphia International and contains such tunes as “Let’s Stay Together,” “Me & Mrs. Jones” and “Brown Baby,” which is threatening to become as big a success as “Me & Mrs. Jones.” Billy proceeded to do “Brown Baby,” a great mid-tempo track about black unity. Hats would ultimately become Billy’s trademark as he wore a purple vinyl apple cap on this appearance.

Naturally, the Soul Train Gang wanted to know more about the man whose record the majority of them bought, so a Q&A session with Billy was held midway in the show. One dancer asked the $64,000 question on most people’s minds: “Is there a Mrs. Jones in your life?” Billy laughed and replied, “I can’t tell you that!”

Dancer Bobby Washington asked Billy if he ever thought of singing with a female singer to which Billy replied, “I have a couple in mind including a young lady from Cincinnati named Randy Crawford.” (Randy Crawford would go on to become a popular singer years later).

After the Q&A session, Billy performed his still blazing hot single “Me & Mrs. Jones” for the second time on the show, to the delight of the hyped up Soul Train Gang.

“Me & Mrs. Jones” was an influence on the music of a new artist in 1973 named Barry White as well as other artists. It was rumored that Motown Records felt the impact of the mega-success of “Me & Mrs. Jones,” so Marvin Gaye and Ed Townsend penned the sensual “Let’s Get It On,” which became an equally monstrous hit in the late summer/fall of 1973.

Of interesting note, The Dramatics recorded a fantastic cover version of “Me & Mrs. Jones” in 1975, while Barbara Mason recorded an answer record to “Me & Mrs. Jones” entitled “Me & Mr. Jones” in 1974.

Billy’s fifth album, the outstanding War of the Gods (with an equally outstanding album cover), was released in October 1973. Its first single, “I Was Married,” a terrific tune in the vein of “Me & Mrs. Jones,” failed to chart, but the second single, “Thanks For Saving My Life,” a heartwarming mid-tempo tune, made it to number nine on the soul charts and 37 on the pop charts.

Billy returned to Soul Train on its January 20, 1974 taping to perform “Thanks For Saving My Life” and an uptempo danceable tune entitled “The Whole Town’s Talking” from War of the Gods. “Super smooth Billy,” as Don referred to him in his introduction of the singer, looked dapper in grey suit and grey hat with the brim of the hat slightly tilted down. During Billy’s interview with Don, he mentioned that he had returned from a European tour with The O’Jays and The Intruders, stating that the response was great and very receptive. “The most amazing thing is to see people who can’t understand your language but they enjoy your music and the sound,” Billy told Don.

Several of the songs he performed on the London leg of the European tour were released on his wonderful live album entitled Billy Paul Live in Europe.

Billy’s seventh studio album, the fantastic When Love Is New, was released in November 1975. He appeared on Soul Train’s April 4, 1976 taping to promote the album. He opened with the album’s title tune, an outstanding classic romantic ballad. As he performed, the entire set was dark to set the right proper mood and atmosphere with the exception of a spotlight on Billy, who wore a white suit and black hat. It’s an underrated track and is one of the best love songs ever recorded.

Later during the interview, Don asked Billy if he was gratified over the success of the When Love Is New album. Billy replied that he was, due to the fact that he had a chance to write some songs for the album, including “Let the Dollar Circulate.” Don asked who wrote the controversial tune on the album “Let’s Make A Baby,” to which Billy answered Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The mere title of that song brought laughter among Billy, Don and the Soul Train Gang due to its suggestive title. He spoke of the concerts he had done recently with MFSB (Mother Father Sister Brother), chiefly his concert in New York’s Carnegie Hall which was very successful.

Billy then performed the uptempo, thumping “People Power,” a great song about solidarity among the human race.

Billy closed with the aforementioned “Let’s Make A Baby.” Unlike what most people think of the song’s title, the song is a gentle, beautiful ballad about a married couple coming together to “be fruitful and multiply” and make children and raise them with wisdom and knowledge. Some critics at the time thought the song was promoting fornication and out-of-wedlock children, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was simply a beautiful and tender tune about procreation.

Billy made his last Soul Train appearance on its December 11, 1976 taping. He opened with his performance of “Word Sure Gets Around,” a sweet ballad about the spreading of relationship rumors from his current album, Let ‘Em In.

During the course of the interview, Billy said while he was working on the album for the past nine months his twin sister had died. He mentioned that the title track and another track from the album, “Without You,” were dedicated to her.

Billy then performed “Let ‘Em In,” an excellent remake of the Beatles tune. His version is even superior to the Beatles’ original version, interspersed with inspirational audio quotes from Louis Farrakhan, Malcolm X, Dick Gregory and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Billy closed with “I Trust You,” a wonderful song about a solid relationship based on trust.

“Me & Mrs. Jones” was such a huge hit that it seemed to many that its mega success overshadowed him as an artist. Moreover, the follow-up release to “Me & Mrs. Jones,” “Am I Black Enough For You,” was deemed militant by pop radio stations and it had been said that his music was blackballed thereafter (a similar fate happened to Curtis Mayfield’s music on pop radio after the mega success of the Super Fly movie soundtrack). Also, the onslaught of disco music hurt both the sales and airplay of R&B artists like Billy Paul and others in the mid- to late seventies. Many weren’t even aware that Billy recorded any music after “Me & Mrs. Jones” and dismissed him as a one-hit wonder, which is a shame because his body of work is excellent. Today in his early seventies, Billy still performs around the world.

Obviously, no one will ever forget “Me & Mrs. Jones.” Its enduring popularity is forever cemented in music history. However, Billy’s music is much more than one hit song. To quote part of the title of the hit album that put Billy on the map, he recorded 360 degrees worth of dynamic music in the genres of soul, jazz and pop that is worthy of wider recognition.

—Stephen McMillian

Journalist, actor, filmmaker, dancer, performer, writer, poet, historian and choreographer. That’s Stephen McMillian.