Listen to What the Man Said (Paul and Linda McCartney)
Recording: January 31st (basic track), February 20th (overdubs part 1), March 3rd-6th(overdubs part 2) and 10th (overdubs part 3), 1975 Location: Sea Saint Studios (basic track and overdubs part 1), New Orleans, Wally Heider Studios (overdubs part 2) and Sunset Sound Recorders Studios (overdubs part 3), Los Angeles Release: May 1975, single (from Venus and Mars)
New Orleans is a town full of colours, sounds and music. While Paul was there, he had the opportunity to take part in the famous Mardi Gras, the main event of the Carnival, admiring the great number of street musicians and enjoying its feisty atmosphere.
This stimulated McCartney, inspiring “My Carnival” (sheet 90) and the atmosphere of “Listen to What the Man Said”, a song “which had an authentically smoky New Orleans flavor.”
Even in its early version, “Listen to What the Man Said” had a distinctive upbeat rhythm with a brilliant riff that walks throughout the song. At first, the track was recorded with a very rough arrangement: only vocals, electric piano, rhythm guitar, bass and drums.
In some photos taken by Sidney Smith, McCartney is seen embracing a Fender Jazz bass upside-down: maybe he took it from someone (Laine?) and decided to cut the track that way…
During the overdub sessions, synthesizer, percussion instruments and some great backing vocals by Paul, Linda and Denny were added. Then McCartney spent some time stroking his chin, looking for something different and decided to bring in some local musicians.
Dave Mason, Traffic guitarist, came in and played some guitar, but his contribution for a solo was rejected ‘cause it did not capture the feel of Paul’s original demo. The cherry on the pie was Tom Scott’s solo saxophone, with his joyful phrases that seem to come right off the streets of New Orleans. That’s what made the song a big hit and made “Listen to What The Man Said” one of McCartney’s most memorable songs.
McCartney: “It was one of those 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 get it together at all. Dave Mason came in and we did a little bit of overdubbing guitars, and when we wondered what we could do for a solo. We thought it would be great to have a very technical musician and do a great lyrical solo. Someone said, ‘Tom Scott lives near here’, (I said), ‘Yeah, give him a ring’, and he turned up within half an hour! He sat down in the studio with his sax, playing through. The engineer were 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 couldn’t believe it, so he went out and tried a few more but (the takes) weren’t as good. He’d had all the feel on this early take, the first take!” While recording the vocals, McCartney added the playful intro (“Allright, ok. Here we go down to New Orleans. Here we, yeah, yeah!”), doing his impersonation of Leo Nocentelli, the Meters guitarist he met at some point in New Orleans.
Another oddity of the recording was the smack of a kiss, a sound that can be heard right after Paul’s verse “Soldier boy kisses girl”. Alan O’Duffy recalls: “I do remember exactly that it was lovely Linda who did the kiss on a microphone during one of the backing vocal takes. I made a point of making sure it was audible in the mix later at Wally Heider studio in LA.” 
During the overdub sessions in March, Gayle Levant, one of the best-known harpists in Hollywood, added her parts on “Listen to What the Man Said”, as well as on “Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People” (see sheet 84) and “Venus and Mars (reprise)”.
“Listen to What the Man Said” preceded the release of Venus and Mars and was a great hit in America, where it topped #1 on the Billboard charts and won a gold disc for one million copies sold. In the UK, the single was successful too, climbing up to #6 in the charts.
A live version was included in Wings Over America. Unexpectedly excluded from Wings Greatest, the song appears on the All the Best! and Wingspan collections. The song was brought back into the live setlist for the 2013/14 Out There! Tour.
Paul McCartney vocals, backing vocals, electric piano, bass, Mellotron, Moog, clavinet, acoustic and electric guitar • Linda McCartney backing vocals • Denny Laine backing vocals, electric guitar, bongos • Jimmy McCulloch electric guitar • Joe English drums, percussion • Dave Mason electric guitar • Tom Scott sax • Gayle Levant harp • Unknown musicians (Sid Sharp Strings) strings
 B. Woffinden, cit., p.136
 P. Gambaccini, cit., p.87.
 Interview courtesy of Alan O’Duffy, 25/08/2013.
 Interview courtesy of Alan O’Duffy, 24/01/2012.