Me and Mrs Jones 1972 – Billy Paul
Written by James on 3 May 2021
December 1972. “Me and Mrs. Jones” also achieved this feat on Billboard’s R&B Singles chart, remaining at the top position for four weeks. On the Hot 100, it replaced “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy and was replaced by Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”. It also hit #10 on the Adult Contemporary chart. For two weeks – 3–10 February 1973 – it peaked at number 12 on the UK Singles Chart.
The radio edit versions were shorter, omitting the second verse, as well as shortening the coda. The video for this song features Paul playing piano in a recording session, with an unlit green cigar, accompanied by dancers.
The saxophone quotes the first seven notes of the Doris Day song “Secret Love”, heard in the intro and outro of the song. Both Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster sued Cary Gilbert plus Gamble and Huff for quoting the song without written approval beforehand. Both Fain and Webster won the damages in a lawsuit, with half of the proceeds of the song going to Fain and Webster.
In 2009, Essence magazine included the song in their list of the “25 Best Slow Jams of All Time”.
Reviewing the song for Stereogum in 2019, Tom Breihan said: “It’s a finely observed song, one that never judges its characters or imagines a way out of its situation. But it’s also schmaltz. One of Gamble and Huff’s great strengths was their sense of rhythmic push; it’s what would make them so ideally suited for the early days of disco. But we don’t hear that on “Me And Mrs. Jones.” Instead, it’s a lush and lazy sprawl of a song. It all sounds magnificent, these guitars and pianos and saxophones all luxuriating into each other. But there’s no force to it, no urgency.” In his obituary for Paul in The New York Times William Grimes said: “The arrangement has been described as having “A lush string arrangement and punchy horn parts complemented Mr. Paul’s velvety, husky baritone, which built from a near-whisper at the beginning of the song to a wrenching, drawn-out shout of “Me and Mrs. Jones” at climactic points.