Weird stuff I learn on YouTube: Michael Jackson’s Human Nature became a hit because of a feature on a cassette player

I love YouTube because you can learn all sorts of stuff on it just browsing. Lately I’ve learned a whole lot about various entertainers and musicians just because I trip over stuff. This is one of those instances. This story is about a Michael Jackson song called Human Nature.

For some reason, I no longer get embed codes from YouTube videos, so I’m sorry I’m just providing a link. 

This morning, I tripped over an interview with Steve Porcaro of Toto, who wrote Human Nature. He’s about to go to the studio where the band is working on Africa, a song where the lyrics make no sense at all but sonically I could listen to it all day, and first he’s going to drop by to visit his kindergarten-aged daughter. She complains to him about some boy who hit her on the playground and he’s thinking of how to explain this to her. He heads over to the studio, sits down at the piano and starts writing Human Nature. He eventually gets help with part of the lyrics. 

At that point he lives with the other Toto keyboard player, David Paich. They both do some work with Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson but Porcaro’s work is as a player, not a songwriter. Quincy likes Paich’s writing, so he has Paich record ideas daily and send them over. Porcaro has just put a demo of Human Nature onto cassette at the house when he gets a phone call from Paich, who asks him to put a couple of recordings onto cassette and give the cassette to the courier from Quincy who comes by every day. Porcaro looks around and they’re out of cassettes, so he takes the Human Nature cassette he has, fast forwards it, flips it over, labels the blank side the A side, and records Paich’s stuff onto it. Then he gives it to the courier. He figures there’s no way Quincy is listening to the B side, so what’s on the B side doesn’t matter. And, in fact, he’s kind of right; Quincy had no intention of listening to the B side. And would have missed it,

except that he didn’t bother stopping the cassette player when Paich’s material finished but just kept working. Which still wouldn’t have resulted in his hearing the B side, except that his cassette player had a feature called Auto Reverse. So Quincy is working, the cassette automatically reverses and plays the B side. 

And that’s why Michael Jackson recorded Human Nature. 

Views: 166

Comment by The Songbird on April 22, 2018 at 9:27am

What a great story!  It is the very way that 'faith in human nature' comes about, happenstance!  Or the element of surprise.  To even give over random ramblings and thought to the likes of such a producer most certainly is good faith!  

Comment by Ron Powell on April 22, 2018 at 10:52am
Comment by Rodney Roe on April 23, 2018 at 3:57am

I think we had a discussion some time back about "B" sides and their influence on musical careers. 

Booker T. and the M.G. were the house band for Stax records.  Booker T. had a song he wanted to record.  The manager explained that a record has two sides and he had to have something with Hammond organ on the B. side.  The band just started noodling around and recorded what became, by far, the groups most well known piece; Green Onions.

Thanks for this story.

Comment by Rodney Roe on April 23, 2018 at 4:05am

For those not old enough to remember Green Onions:

Comment by Rodney Roe on April 23, 2018 at 4:26am

kosh, this is from Google Help.  I assume you are doing this. 

Embed a video

  1. On a computer, go to the YouTube video you want to embed.
  2. Under the video, click Share Share.
  3. Click Embed.
  4. From the box that appears, copy the HTML code.
  5. Paste the code into your blog or website HTML.
Comment by koshersalaami on April 23, 2018 at 8:33am

Embed is no longer showing as an option. That’s my problem.

Comment by Rodney Roe on April 23, 2018 at 8:52am

I could not find a solution for that. Which browser are you using? I had a lot of unrelated problems with chrome and deleted it. I mostly use Firefox and have no problem with it. I have Microsoft edge but it is not fully copatible with Zoomtext and it came with windows 10.  I’m doing this on a tablet.

Comment by The Songbird on April 23, 2018 at 9:18am

It changed for me as well, so I stopped using Firefox.  I now use Chrome, but you have to click on Share, to get a drop down with varied codes for embedding in different places.  For THIS site, in order to make my pieces remain single-spaced, I upload them from Firefox.  It simply will not do it from Chrome!  They're lengthy anyway, so I don't want to exaggerate importance by double-spacing them.  It's never the point, and just another of my frustrations with ease-of-operation for writing/posting.  Try a diff browser, like RR said? - see what ya get.  I'd be interested in knowing; I usually just think it's my older puter, or the blockheads that fuss with working sites, just to make them more convenient for themselves, working from the palms of their hands. 

Comment by Rodney Roe on April 23, 2018 at 1:44pm

It may have been Chrome that warned me every time I logged on that this was not a safe site.  I sent a message saying, "I know, but I'm doing it anyway."  Not really.  I don't get that with Firefox.  I've been using Firefox for about twenty years with brief periods of infidelity.

Comment by The Songbird on April 23, 2018 at 1:50pm

As long as you're on the current update, no prob.  My computer's OS is so old, there are no further updates!  So - ya work around it!  (Cheshire grin ... !)  But, not sure if this is true of you, Kosh.   Didn't mean to talk behind yer back. 

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