[[caption-width-right:350:Why are there so many songs about rainbows? Because this guy wrote most of them.]]

->''"Just an old fashioned love song''\\
''playing on the radio''\\
''And wrapped around the music''\\
''is the sound of someone promising they'll never go.''\\
''You'll swear you've heard it before''\\
''as it slowly rambles on and on''\\
''No need in bringing 'em back''\\
'''Cause they've never really gone."''
-->-- "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin An Old Fashioned Love Song]]"

->''"Sentimental fellow''\\
''sometimes overmellow''\\
''Writing verses no one plans to do''\\
''I know I'm no Music/ColePorter''\\
''I'm noticeably shorter''\\
''Do I deserve to have someone like you?"''
-->-- "You Know Me"

Paul Hamilton Williams, Jr. (born September 19, 1940) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and actor. He was a prominent (albeit diminutive) figure in the pop culture zeitgeist of TheSeventies, having composed hits for acts such as Music/{{Carpenters}}[[note]]("We've Only Just Begun", "Rainy Days and Mondays", "I Won't Last a Day Without You")[[/note]], Helen Reddy[[note]]("You and Me Against the World)[[/note]], Music/TheMonkees[[note]]("Someday Man")[[/note]] and Three Dog Night[[note]]("An Old Fashioned Love Song", "The Family of Man", "Out in the Country")[[/note]], and appearing in popular television shows of the era, such as ''Series/HawaiiFiveO'', ''Series/TheLoveBoat''[[note]](whose theme, an infamous LoungeLizard stand-by, he composed)[[/note]], and ''Series/TheMuppetShow''. He's even done some [[VoiceActor voice acting]], playing the Penguin on ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' and Cairo on ''WesternAnimation/{{Phantom 2040}}''. He won an Academy Award for the song "Evergreen", performed by Music/BarbraStreisand in ''Film/AStarIsBorn'', also a #1 hit for Streisand.

Williams also composed soundtracks for cult RockOpera ''Film/PhantomOfTheParadise'' (in which he also performed the role of villainous record producer Swan), children's gangster movie ''Film/BugsyMalone'', and notorious box office flop ''Film/{{Ishtar}}''. Continuing his good relationship with Franchise/TheMuppets, he contributed several songs to the soundtrack of ''Film/TheMuppetMovie'' (most notably perennial classic "Rainbow Connection"), even making a cameo appearance as a [[ThePianoPlayer piano player]]. His most recognizable film role might be Little Enos Burdette in the ''Film/SmokeyAndTheBandit'' series, but he's reaching new audiences as a gun dealer known as "The Butcher" in ''Creator/EdgarWright'''s ''Film/BabyDriver''.

As a performer in his own right, Williams recorded a number of albums, among them a well-regarded '70s album series on A&M, and overlooked gem ''Someday Man'' on Creator/RepriseRecords. After over a decade of heavy substance abuse, Williams released his last album for more than fifteen years in 1981; his career as a songwriter would never quite recover, certainly not his career as a performer. The man himself, however, did, and has been an advocate of recovery ever since. He remains hugely respected by his peers, having been inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2009, he was elected President and Chairman of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

Not to be confused with the boxer (though he did write [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ9KtuRHXRc a song on the subject]]), the gospel musician, the saxophonist, the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Williams_(music_journalist) music journalist]] and author of ''Das Energi'', seven-plus footballers, or a ''Series/TheYoungAndTheRestless'' character of the same name.
* ''Someday Man'' (1969)
* ''Just an Old Fashioned Love Song'' (1971)
* ''Life Goes On'' (1972)
* ''A Little Bit of Love'' (1974)
* ''Here Comes Inspiration'' (1974)
* ''Ordinary Fool'' (1975)
* ''A Little on the Windy Side'' (1979)
* ''"...And Crazy for Loving You"'' (1981)
* ''Back to Love Again'' (1997)
* ''I'm Going Back There Someday'' (2005)
!!Tropes associated with Paul Williams:
* AgeProgressionSong: "We've Only Just Begun", one of the classics. Also, to more heartbreaking effect, "Time".
* AlbumTitleDrop: Never once departed from the tried-and-true "title drop in title track" method.
* AntiquatedLinguistics: "Trust" is, at times, Shakespearean like that.
* AttentionWhore: Public adoration was as much of an addiction to him as drugs and alcohol. Since sobering up, his basic attitude is that CelebrityIsOverrated:
-->"There are few things as pathetic as a little old man saying, "Please sir, may I have another cup of fame—just another minute in the camera?". That's not who I am."
* AwardBaitSong:
** The credits reprise of "Flying Dreams" in animated classic ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH''.
** ''Back to Love Again'' consists almost entirely of archetypal Award Bait Song instrumentation, even including a duet re-recording of "I Won't Last a Day Without You" that could have easily played over any '90s animated film.
** "Rainbow Connection" is a piece of bait that almost took, but more importantly, its presence in popular culture is still strongly felt, having become an indelible part of Franchise/TheMuppets as its BootstrappedTheme.
* BerserkButton: Generally a cool guy regarding the inevitable height jokes, but he almost lost it once on live talk show when a very drunk [[Series/TheATeam George Peppard]] was being blatantly disrespectful. Things calmed down, but for a while there it looked like it would come to blows.
* BigBrotherMentor: Paul's younger brother -- whose name ''is'' Mentor -- considers his brother an inspiration as a musician.
* BigGuyLittleGuy: The little guy to co-composer Roger Nichols, as well as [[Film/SmokeyAndTheBandit Big Enos Burdette]]. And, well.. lots of other people.
* BreakupSong / SillyLoveSongs: His catalog can be roughly divided into one or the other. Williams himself refers to his music as "co-dependent anthems."
* CallBack: Fittingly, "Still Alive" incorporates both musical and lyrical callbacks. The main riff is taken verbatim from "That's What Friends Are For".
* TheCameo:
** Portrayed [[CelebrityToons Professor Williams]] in an episode of ''[[WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory Dexter's Laboratory]]'', peppered with adorably cheesy references to his musical legacy. Oh, and in the process, providing one of said series' moments of musical awesome with "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vst6DXDnzKw Breathe in the Good Sunshine]]".
** He also made live-action appearances on ''Theatre/TheOddCouple'', ''Series/TheLoveBoat'' and ''Series/YoGabbaGabba''.
** He also shows up in minute-long appearance as a dodgy school textbook dealer in a 2014 episode of ''Series/{{Community}}''.
* CelebrityIsOverrated: In his own words:
--> " There’s nothing more pathetic to me than some little old man going, “Please, sir, may I have some more fame?” "
* CharityMotivationSong: Was part of the "Voices That Care" super group, which released one charity single in 1991. Other members included Billy Dee Williams (no relation), [[Series/HappyDays The Fonz]], and Michelle Pfeiffer.
* ChristmasSongs: The soundtrack for ''Film/TheMuppetChristmasCarol'', as well as the earlier Henson special ''Literature/EmmetOttersJugBandChristmas''.
* CoolOldGuy: Yep.
* CoolShades: Though it's more common to see Cool Glasses nowadays.
* CoverVersion: A few here and there -- perhaps inevitably, a version of "That Lucky Old Sun" serves as the closer of ''Life Goes On''.
** ''"...And Crazy for Loving You"'' consists of nothing but covers of classic country songs by artists such as Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, and the Louvin Brothers.
* CultSoundtrack: ''Bugsy Malone'', ''Phantom'', and ''Ishtar''.
* DeadArtistsAreBetter: "Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye", about a struggling artist who decides to kill himself to boost record sales to earn money for his sister's life-saving operation. It works.
-->''Well, you did it, Eddie / and though it's hard to applaud suicide / You gave all you could give / so your sister could live / All America's choked up inside, man''
* DeadpanSnarker: Just look up ''any'' interview or talk show appearance.
* DrivenToSuicide: Touched upon but ultimately averted in "One More Angel".
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: His first musical outings were as frontman of psychedelic rock outfit The Holy Mackerel.
* {{Escapism}}: Such themes abound in Williams' oeuvre, such as "Roan Pony" and "Out in the Country".
* FakeOutFadeOut: "California Roses".
* FriendToAllLivingThings: The cover for ''Life Goes On'' kinda gives this vibe.
* FollowYourHeart:
** "Rainbow Connection". That is all.
** Name-checked in "Born to Fly".
* GreenAesop: "The Family of Man" definitely bears shades of this, as does "Out in the Country".
* GriefSong: "One More Angel".
* GenreRoulette: The soundtrack for ''Ishtar'', full stop.
* GreatestHitsAlbum: Though it took all of twenty years for the official follow-up to 1977's ''Classics'' to be released.
* HeavyMeta: "An Old Fashioned Love Song" is a love song about love songs.
* InNameOnly: He seems to view ''Someday Man'' as being an album of his in name only, being more in line with Roger Nichols' sunshine pop efforts and fully produced by the same, Paul viewing himself merely as a vocal interpreter for Nichols' vision.
* InkSuitActor: A short, rather stout man with long hair and poor eyesight as the voice of [[WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries the villainous Penguin]] fairly smacks of typecasting.
* LetsDuet: The album/video release ''I'm Going Back There Someday'' features duets with Music/WillieNelson, [[Franchise/TheMuppets The Great Gonzo]], and Melissa Manchester.
* LongSongShortScene: "Never Thought I'd Get to Meet the Devil" from ''Phantom'', though arguably presented in its entirety in the film, was left off the soundtrack album.
* LongTitle:
** "Phantom's Theme (Beauty and the Beast)" and "Somebody Super Like You (Beef Construction Song)".
** As The Holy Mackerel, there was "The Somewhere in Arizona at 4:30 A.M. Restaurant Song (And Now I Am Alone)". The non-parenthesized part is an example of NonAppearingTitle, too.
* LoveNostalgiaSong: Oh god, "Waking Up Alone". Also, a few others.
* LyricalColdOpen: "Born to Fly".
* ManChild: Considers his pre-sobriety self to be this.
-->"I didn't have the best childhood, but I did have the longest."
** He's also kind of short and pudgy
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: Almost invariably levels 1-2, but ''Phantom'' ups it to 5-6 at its most intense.
* MoneySong: "Flash" to some extent.
* NewSoundAlbum: ''A Little on the Windy Side'' is a bit more carefree and upbeat, both lyrically and musically, than his series of A&M albums, featuring about one song that hearkens back to his days of melancholy love songs.
* NonAppearingTitle: "Nilsson Sings Newman" and "Faust".
* NotStayingForBreakfast: "Traveling Boy".
* OlderThanTheyLook: He plays a kid in the 1965 film ''The Loved One''. He was 25 at the time.
* OneWomanSong: "Margarita".
* PopStarComposer: At least one half of his legacy consists of scores and original song compositions for film and television.
* ThePowerOfFriendship: "That's What Friends Are For".
* ThePowerOfLove: It's not for nothing his autographs and newsposts include the salutation "Love and light."
* RealLifeWritesThePlot: "Still Alive", my god. Also, several songs on ''Back to Love Again''.
* RearrangeTheSong:
** "An Old Fashioned Love Song" and "Sad Song", both with Franchise/TheMuppets on background vocals!
** ''I'm Going Back There Someday'' features rearranged versions of several of his classic songs; notably, its version of "Rainbow Connection" is a duet with Willie Nelson who often performs the song in concert, and even named an album after the song. "We've Only Just Begun" is an example of a recursive rearrangement, as the song owes more to the Carpenters version than his stripped-down album version from before.
* ReincarnationRomance: "Old Souls". Paul appears to believe in this concept as it applies to real life.
-->''Our love / is an old love, baby / It's older / than all our years / I have seen in strange, young eyes / familiar tears''
* SadClown: "Faust", "Rainy Days and Mondays".
* ScaryMusicianHarmlessMusic: If ''Phantom'' is your introduction to Paul, then yeah.
* SelfBackingVocalist: Most notably during the Holy Mackerel days.
* SelfDeprecation: See that quote up there? Also, public appearances would invariably involve a joke from Williams about his height.
* SelfTitledAlbum: ''The Holy Mackerel''.
* SesameStreetCred: He appeared on ''Series/YoGabbaGabba'', performing "Rainbow Connection".
* SettingOffSong: Aside from the uber-classic "Movin' Right Along" from ''The Muppet Movie'', there's "Easy Street", with a lyrical reference to Hope and Crosby's ''Film/RoadTo'' movies for bonus points!
* SexDrugsAndRockAndRoll: Unfortunately. He managed to beat it before it did him though, and today he is a huge activist for aiding those afflicted with drug addiction.
* ShoutOut: "[[Music/HarryNilsson Nilsson]] Sings [[Music/RandyNewman Newman]]".
* SomewhereSong: "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday", and in a more metaphorical sense, "Rainbow Connection".
* SongStyleShift: "Lonely Hearts" features an insanely loud and discordant (for Paul) bridge that comes out of nowhere. Fitting, considering [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_of_the_Locust_%28film%29 the film]] for which it was composed.
* SpokenWordInMusic:
** The Holy Mackerel B-side "Listen to the Voice".
** "Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye", in a gratuitous Puerto Rican accent, no less!
* {{Spoonerism}}: Though not performed by Williams (as noted in StepUpToTheMicrophone), The Holy Mackerel's album contains a spoonerized reading of the story of Prinderella and "her two sisty uglers" who couldn't "shit in that fooe."
* StepUpToTheMicrophone: Though Paul shared lead vocal duties for the Mackerel with his brother Mentor almost equally, former Music/JeffersonAirplane bassist Bob Harvey narrates "Prinderella".
* StrictlyFormula: Averted somewhat for someone so closely associated with the genre of soft rock and all that usually entails; Williams wasn't afraid to mix it up a bit, at least musically. ''Ordinary Fool'' veers into GenreRoulette territory at times.
* StylisticSuck: The soundtrack for ''Ishtar'', and to a lesser extent ''Phantom of the Paradise''. Though as with any great parody, the "suck" is suffused with affection and respect for the mocked genres. It's telling that they can still be considered SugarWiki/AwesomeMusic.
* SurprisinglyGentleSong: Though the entire opposite was true of his regular studio albums (which would usually include one rocking or strikingly upbeat number among his usual fare), ''Phantom'' has "Old Souls".
* TheCoverChangesTheMeaning: "You and Me Against the World", a hit for [[Film/PetesDragon1977 Helen Reddy]], became an anthem for single mothers everywhere, after some changes/and or removal of lyrics here and there.
* TheDrifter: Recorded a song by that name, though the song itself is an example of a WanderlustSong.
* [[TheReasonYouSuckSpeech "The Reason You Suck" Song]]:
** "The Hell of It" from ''Phantom of the Paradise'' was written as one for the character of Beef; however, the scene for which it was composed was scrapped, and so it became the end credits song, leaving audiences confused as to whether it's sung by Swan, the Phantom (it's a long story), or an out-of-character Williams.
** "Still Alive" is one... to his younger self.
* TheShortGuyWithGlasses: Well, literally.
* ThisIsASong: A small number of them. "An Old Fashioned Love Song" in particular is HeavyMeta about this.
* ThreeChordsAndTheTruth: "Still Alive", with heavy emphasis on the truth.
* TopTenJingle: "We've Only Just Begun" was first written for an advertisement for a now-defunct bank. Williams was later called up by Richard Carpenter, inquiring whether a full-length version of the song existed; Williams said it did, then promptly hung up and wrote the rest.
* TruckDriversGearChange: "Rainbow Connection".
* TheUnSmile: Swan has a rather memorable one. It's even on the ''Phantom'' album cover!
* YourCheatingHeart: "[[StoicWoobie She's Too Good to Me]]".
* VerbalTic: A number of them, mostly related to odd pronunciation issues, making his singing voice an acquired taste to most.
* VillainSong: ...Well, "[[Film/BugsyMalone Bad Guys]]" ''is'' this, even if it's one of the cheeriest examples.
* WhenImGoneSong: "You and Me Against the World".
-->''And baby, when one of us is gone / one is left alone to carry on / Then, remembering will have to do / Memories alone will get us through''
* WhereItAllBegan: Williams has noted the full-circle irony of the A&M Records lot eventually becoming the property of the Jim Henson Corporation, considering their shared legacies.