Listen to What the Man Said

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"Listen to What the Man Said"
Single by Wings
from the album Venus and Mars
B-side "Love in Song"
Released 16 May 1975
Format 7" single
Recorded January - April 1975
Genre Soft rock
Length 3:57
Label Capitol
Writer(s) Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney
Producer(s) Paul McCartney
Certification RIAA (US) – Gold (5 August 1975)[1]
Wings singles chronology
"Junior's Farm"
(1974)
"Listen to What the Man Said"
(1975)
"Letting Go"
(1975)
Venus and Mars track listing
Alternative cover
Reverse side to "Listen to What the Man Said"

"Listen to What the Man Said" is a hit single from Paul McCartney and 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.[2] It was a number 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US;[3] as well, it reached number 1 in Canada on the RPM National Top Singles Chart.[4] 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.[5][6] The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.[7]

Recording[edit]

"Listen to What the Man Said" was recorded in early 1975 by Wings during their New Orleans sessions for Venus and Mars.[2][8][9] It was a song which McCartney had high hopes for, but early recordings did not live up to the song's potential.[8][9] After Mason added guitar overdubs, the band was still dissatisfied.[8][9] However, once Scott recorded the sax solo, the band was satisfied.[8][9] Although several takes of the solo were recorded, the very first take was the one that was used.[8][9] The effect of a kiss smack heard on the track was recorded by engineer Alan O'Duffy, who taped Linda doing it.[10]

Lyrics[edit]

The song is an optimistic love song.[11] Even though love may be blind or may cause separated lovers to suffer, the singer believes that love will prevail.[11] This is in accordance with what “the man” said.[11] “The man” is not explicitly identified, but might be God.[11] Author Vincent Benitez believes that, "McCartney is advising everyone to stick with the basics of life, which for him means focusing on love."[11] The song is in the key of G major, although the key is not established until the chorus.[11]

Reception[edit]

Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine called "Listen to What the Man Said" "a typically sweet and lovely melody".[12] Paul Nelson of Rolling Stone called it "deliciously catchy" and "as fine an example of slick, professional entertainment and carefully crafted 'product' as has ever hit the airwaves".[13] Author John Blaney described the song as "a slice of radio-friendly pop" and "a joyous celebration of love and life, buoyed by Linda's equally exuberant backing vocals...".[9] Benitez described the song as "another great example of McCartney-style pop, a buoyant and optimistic song about love where words and music are wedded together.[11] Authors Roy Carr and Tony Tyler note about the song that "artful and sensitive production elevate what was originally a piece of inconsequential whimsy into what can only be described as High Pop", also describing the song as "likeable" and "hummable".[14] Author Chris Ingham described the song as "superior pop".[15] The song was also included on the greatest hits compilations All the Best! and Wingspan: Hits and History.[16][17] However, it was not included on the first Wings compilation, Wings Greatest.[18]

Covers[edit]

The song was covered (as "L.T.W.T.M.S.") by indie pop band The Trouble with Sweeney on their 2004 EP Fishtown Briefcase.[19] Laurence Juber covered the song on his 2005 album One Wing.[20][21] Wings band member Denny Laine covered "Listen to What the Man Said" in 2007 on his album Performs the Hits of Wings.[22] In 2008, Freedy Johnston covered this song on his album My Favourite Waste of Time.[23] The chorus elements from the single were used in the 2003 Dance single "Just The Way You Are" by the Italian Dance Group Milky.[24] Because of this, Paul and Linda McCartney were given credit on the single. Owl City will cover "Listen to What the Man Said" on the upcoming The Art of McCartney tribute album.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "RIAA Gold and Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  2. ^ a b Mason, S. "Listen to What the Man Said". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  3. ^ "Paul McCartney singles". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  4. ^ "RPM Top Singles". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  5. ^ "Official Charts: Paul McCartney". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  6. ^ "Dutch charts: Listen to What the Man Said". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  7. ^ riaa.com
  8. ^ a b c d e Madiger, C. & Easter, M. (2000). Eight Arms to Hold You. 44.1 Productions. p. 205. ISBN 0-615-11724-4. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Blaney, J. (2007). Lennon and McCartney: Together Alone: A Critical Discography of Their Solo Work. Jawbone Press. pp. 107–108. ISBN 978-1-906002-02-2. 
  10. ^ Luca Perasi, Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013), 2013, L.I.L.Y. Publishing, p.133, ISBN 978-88-909122-1-4.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Benitez, V.P. (2010). The Words and Music of Paul McCartney: The Solo Years. Praeger. pp. 68–69. ISBN 978-0-313-34969-0. 
  12. ^ Erlewine, S.T.. "Venus and Mars". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  13. ^ Nelson, P. (May 3, 2001). "Venus and Mars Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  14. ^ Carr, R. & Tyler, T. (1978). The Beatles: An illustrated record. Harmony Books. pp. 109–110. ISBN 0-517-53367-7. 
  15. ^ Ingham, C. (2009). The Rough Guide to the Beatles (3rd ed.). Penguin. p. 117. ISBN 978-1-4053-8445-2. 
  16. ^ Erlewine, S.T.. "All the Best". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  17. ^ Erlewine, S.T.. "Wingspan: Hits and History". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  18. ^ "Wings Greatest". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  19. ^ Deusner, S. (June 16, 2004). "Trouble with Sweeney Fishtown Briefcase EP". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  20. ^ "One Wing". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  21. ^ "Paul McCartney covers". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  22. ^ "Performs the Hits of Wings". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  23. ^ "My Favourite Waste of Time". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  24. ^ "Just the Way You Are". whosampled.com. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  25. ^ Grow, Kory (9 September 2014). "Paul McCartney Tribute Comp: Bob Dylan, Kiss and More Cover the Beatle". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
Preceded by
"Only Women Bleed" by Alice Cooper
Canadian RPM number-one single
July 12, 1975 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Magic" by Pilot
Preceded by
"Love Will Keep Us Together" by Captain & Tennille
US Billboard Hot 100 number one single
July 19, 1975
Succeeded by
"The Hustle" by Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony