‘Listen To What The Man Said’ was the first single released from Wings’ fourth album Venus And Mars.
It featured new band member Joe English on drums, and guest appearances from guitarist Dave Mason and saxophonist Tom Scott.
In the studio
The backing track of ‘Listen To What The Man Said’ was recorded at Sea Saint Studios in New Orleans in early 1975.
Although Wings believed in the song’s potential, finding a suitable arrangement proved problematic until Tom Scott was suggested for a sax overdub.
There’s a funny story with that one. 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 really didn’t get it together at all. We let it stay and added some things on it, Davie Mason came in and we did a little bit of overdubbing guitars, and then we wondered what we could do for a solo. We thought it would be great to have a very technical musician come in and do a great lyrical solo.
Someone said ‘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. So we’d finished the session, we just sat around and chatted for a couple of hours. I think what he plays on that song is lovely and that, overall, it worked.
Paul McCartney In His Own Words, Paul Gambaccini
Final overdubs and mixing took place at Wally Heider Studios in Los Angeles on 8 March 1975.
I do remember that it was the lovely Linda who did the kiss on a microphone during one of the backing vocal takes [in New Orleans]. I made a point of making sure it was audible in the mix later at Wally Heider studio in LA.
Paul McCartney: REcording Sessions (1969-2013), Luca Perasi
Enlisted for the LA sessions was harpist Gayle Levant, who recorded parts for ‘Listen To What The Man Said’ and ‘Treat Her Gently – Lonely Old People’.
The b-side was ‘Love In Song’, another Venus And Mars song mostly recorded at Abbey Road in 1974.
The single topped the charts in Canada and the USA, and went top ten in Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, and the UK.
The popularity of ‘Listen To What The Man Said’ led to its inclusion on the compilations All The Best! and Wingspan: Hits and History, although it was omitted from 1978’s Wings Greatest.
A live version, recorded on 29 May 1976 in Kansas City, Missouri, was released on Wings Over America.