Listen to What the Man Said
|"Listen to What the Man Said"|
|Single by Wings|
|from the album Venus and Mars|
|B-side||"Love in Song"|
|Released||16 May 1975|
|Recorded||31 January and 20 February 1975|
|Writer(s)||Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney|
|Certification||RIAA (US) – Gold (5 August 1975)|
|Wings singles chronology|
"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 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, the band was satisfied. 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".
You either have to leave it and slop 'Listen to What the Man Said' dead or you spill over into the next little link piece. I just like that link myself, and thought no one's going to mind that little extra on the record.— Paul McCartney, Paul McCartney: In His Own Words
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.
Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine called "Listen to What the Man Said" "a typically sweet and lovely melody". 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". 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...". 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. 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". Author Chris Ingham described the song as "superior pop".
The song was also included on the numerous greatest hits compilations, including 1987's All the Best! and 2001's Wingspan: Hits and History. However, it was not included on the first Wings compilation, Wings Greatest.
Weekly singles charts
- 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.
- Ex-Wings member Laurence Juber covered the song on his 2005 album One Wing, despite not being a member of the band at the time of the song's recording and release.
- Former Wings member Denny Laine covered "Listen to What the Man Said" in 1996 on his album Wings at the Sound of Denny Laine.
- In 2008, Freedy Johnston covered this song on his album My Favourite Waste of Time.
- The chorus elements from the single were used in the 2003 Dance single "Just The Way You Are" by the Italian dance group Milky. Because of this, Paul and Linda McCartney were given credit on the single.
- Owl City covered "Listen to What the Man Said" on The Art of McCartney tribute album.
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- "Official Charts: Paul McCartney". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- "Dutch charts: Listen to What the Man Said". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- Madiger, C. & Easter, M. (2000). Eight Arms to Hold You. 44.1 Productions. p. 205. ISBN 0-615-11724-4.
- 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.
- DeRiso, Nick. "40 Years Ago: Paul McCartney and Wings Release Uneven but Ultimately Charming ‘Venus and Mars’". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
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- Benitez, V.P. (2010). The Words and Music of Paul McCartney: The Solo Years. Praeger. pp. 68–69. ISBN 978-0-313-34969-0.
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- Carr, R. & Tyler, T. (1978). The Beatles: An illustrated record. Harmony Books. pp. 109–110. ISBN 0-517-53367-7.
- Ingham, C. (2009). The Rough Guide to the Beatles (3rd ed.). Penguin. p. 117. ISBN 978-1-4053-8445-2.
- Erlewine, S.T.. "All the Best". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- Erlewine, S.T.. "Wingspan: Hits and History". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- "Wings Greatest". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- "Canadian Chart". www.collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2014-11-17.
- "charts.de". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
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- "Dutchcharts.nl Paul McCartney discography". Hung Medien. MegaCharts. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
- "Official Charts: Paul McCartney". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- "Paul McCartney Charts and Awards". allmusic. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- "Top 200 Singles of 1975". RPM. 1975-12-27. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
- "Billboard Top 100 - 1975". Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- Deusner, S. (June 16, 2004). "Trouble with Sweeney Fishtown Briefcase EP". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- "One Wing". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- "Paul McCartney covers". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- "Performs the Hits of Wings". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- "My Favourite Waste of Time". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- "Just the Way You Are". whosampled.com. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- Grow, Kory (9 September 2014). "Paul McCartney Tribute Comp: Bob Dylan, Kiss and More Cover the Beatle". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
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