Listen to What the Man Said

Song Review by

The initial sessions for Venus and Mars took place in New Orleans, although not much of the area's musical culture seeped into the album, beyond a guest appearance by Allen Toussaint on piano on "Rock Show" and his brief, barely audible rap at the very beginning of the smash single "Listen to What the Man Said." Following that hint of local flavor, "Listen to What the Man Said" is textbook Wings, one of those maddeningly catchy songs that detractors of Paul McCartney's solo years hate in no small part because of their seeming effortlessness. This song is the very definition of the word "breezy," from the relaxed canter of the rhythm (led by McCartney's limber bass, which is uncharacteristically prominent throughout) to Tom Scott's ultra-'70s saxophone solos, which epitomize the high, reedy sound that producers and recording engineers found so appealing in the latter half of that decade (see also any number of Roxy Music and Steely Dan songs from the same period, for starters). Another guest, Dave Mason, chips in with the chiming guitar riff that's the song's primary musical hook, while new drummer Joe English plays an interestingly off-kilter part that ignores the traditional rock & roll backbeat in favor of a more syncopated part that focuses primarily on the cymbals. It was a massive hit, of course, but where many similarly frothy McCartney songs from the same period now sound embarrassingly dated, there's a lyrical quality to this playful, dreamy song that's still quite appealing.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Venus and Mars 1975 Hear Music / Universal 4:01
Pure McCartney 2016 Hear Music / Virgin EMI 4:03
Listen to What the Man Said Hear Music / Universal 4:03