"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.
- 1 Recording
- 2 Lyrics
- 3 Reception
- 4 Charts
- 4.1 Weekly singles charts
- 4.2 Year-end charts
- 5 Covers
- 6 References
"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. 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. 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, although the key is not established until the chorus.
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 Edit
Year-end charts 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.
- 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.