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.