Listen to What the Man Said

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Released 16 May 1975
Format 7″ single
Recorded 31 January and 20 February 1975
Genre Soft rock
Length 3:57
Label Capitol
Songwriter(s) Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney
Producer(s) Paul McCartney

“Listen to What the Man Said” is a hit single from Wings’ 1975 album Venus and Mars. The song featured new member Joe English on drums, with guest musicians Dave Mason on guitar and Tom Scott on soprano saxophone. It was a number 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US; as well, it reached number 1 in Canada on the RPM National Top Singles Chart. It also reached number 6 in the UK, and reached the top ten in Norway and New Zealand and the top twenty in the Netherlands. The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.

“Listen to What the Man Said” was recorded in early 1975 by Wings during their New Orleans sessions for Venus and Mars. It was a song which Paul McCartney had high hopes for, but early recordings did not live up to the song’s potential. McCartney said in 1975 of his initial opinion of the song, “It was one of the songs we’d gone in with high hopes for. Whenever I would play it on the piano, people would say ‘Oh, I like that one.’ But when we did the backing track, we thought we didn’t really get it together at all.” After Mason added guitar overdubs, the band was still dissatisfied. However, once Scott recorded the sax solo, judgements were changed. Although several takes of the solo were recorded, the very first take was the one that was used. McCartney said of Tom Scott’s impact on the track, “Someone said famous jazz musician ‘Tom Scott lives near here.’ We said, yeah, give him a ring, see if he turns up, and he turned up within half an hour! There he was, with his sax, and he sat down in the studio playing through. The engineer was recording it. We kept all the notes he was playing casually. He came in and I said ‘I think that’s it.’ He said ‘Did you record that?’ I said yes, and we listened to it back. No one could believe it, so he went out and tried a few more, but they weren’t as good. He’d had all the feel on this early take, the first take.” The effect of a kiss smack heard on the track was recorded by engineer Alan O’Duffy, who taped Linda doing it.

The end of the song also features a small link used to transition into the next song on Venus and Mars, “Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People”.

The song is an optimistic love song. Even though love may be blind or may cause separated lovers to suffer, the singer believes that love will prevail. This is in accordance with what “the man” said. “The man” is not explicitly identified, but might be God. Author Vincent Benitez believes that, “McCartney is advising everyone to stick with the basics of life, which for him means focusing on love.” The song is in the key of G major.