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Human Nature (Michael Jackson)
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Some people think this is Michael Jackson's best song ever, and it is undisputably one of his best ballads, if not the best.

"Human Nature", 1983, is an R&B song by American recording artist Michael Jackson. It was written by Steve Porcaro and John Bettis, and produced by Quincy Jones for the singer's sixth solo album, Thriller (1982). Initially, Porcaro had recorded a rough demo of the song on a cassette, which was then given to Jones. Enjoying the demo, Jones had the ballad included on the Thriller album. The song was the last selected for the album, ousting "Carousel" from the final track listing.

"Human Nature" was released on July 3, 1983, as the album's fifth single. Although not released in the UK, the song achieved moderate chart success in the US. Reaching number two on Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary chart and number seven on the Hot 100, the song became Jackson's fifth Top 10 hit from Thriller. In New Zealand the single reached number 11. The ballad garnered many positive reviews from music critics. "Human Nature" has been covered and sampled by numerous artists, including Miles Davis, SWV, Nas, Jason Nevins and Boyz II Men.


"Human Nature" was originally written by Steve Porcaro, keyboardist with the Rock band Toto. "I had written the song for my daughter Heather. Something had happened at school and it just inspired me. I wrote the song while we were mixing "Africa" and was just tinkering on the piano and wrote 'Human Nature.' It was one of a batch of three songs I had written in a certain time period. I had written the lyrics, which were the same verse I was singing over and over again. I had the 'why, why' chorus with the slap echo. Like most of my songs it was an unfinished song."

Steve Porcaro and fellow Toto member David Paich worked with producer Quincy Jones on the Thriller album, doing some synthesizer programming and playing. Said Porcaro: "Quincy had been asking David for songs and he was sending a messenger almost every day to David's house - where I was living at the time - to pick up anything David was working on. And so David was sending him stuff. One time, he had gotten a call that the messenger was on his way and he called down to me and told me to throw something we'd been working on onto a cassette. I didn't have any blank cassettes, so I took a cassette that had 'Human Nature' on one side and turned the B-side over, rewound it and put on these two songs of David's. and then gave them to the messenger."

Jones played both sides of the cassette and was excited about "Human Nature." Quincy called David the next day and was raving about this tune that went 'why, why.' It took David half an hour to tell Quincy that it wasn't his song! But the song was incomplete lyric-wise and Jones asked Porcaro to finish them. Porcaro recalls: "I forced myself to write the lyrics and Quincy was less than thrilled with them and he asked me if I would mind if he brought in John Bettis to finish them. I was completely thrilled with what John did with the lyrics."


Looking out
Across the night-time
The city winks a sleepless eye
Hear her voice
Shake my window
Sweet seducing sighs

Get me out
Into the night-time
Four walls won't hold me tonight
If this town
Is just an apple
Then let me take a bite

If they say,
Why, why, tell 'em that it's human nature
Why, why does he do it that way?
If they say,
Why, why, tell 'em that it's human nature
Why, why does he do it that way?

Reaching out
To touch a stranger
Electric eyes are everywhere
See that girl
She knows I'm watching
She likes the way I stare

If they say,
Why, why, just tell 'em that it's human nature
Why, why does he do it that way?
If they say,
Why, why, tell 'em that it's human nature
Why, why does he do it that way?
I like livin' this way
I like lovin' this way

(That way) Why why
(That way) Why why

Looking out
Across the morning
The city's heart begins to beat
Reaching out
I touch her shoulder
I'm dreaming of the street

If they say,
Why, why, tell 'em that it's human nature
Why, why does he do it that way?
If they say,
Why, why, tell 'em...
Why, why does he do it that way?
I like livin' this pain

Why, why
Why, why
Why, why

NIGHT-TIME= The part of the day when it is dark, the night.

WINKS= To wink is to close one eye (but not the other). People wink to make a sign of complicity or even to allure you (attract you to them).

SLEEPLESS= Without sleep. If the city is sleepless (or has sleepless eyes) it means that there is a lot of night life (there are many people in the streets or bars, etc at night time).

HER VOICE= The city’s voice (the city is sometimes treated as a SHE).

SHAKE= To cause to move to and fro with jerky movements (like when an explosion shakes your window). The complete sentence is: “Hear her voice shake my window”, which means that the noise from the night life is so strong that my window shakes.

SIGHS= To sigh is to exhale audibly in a long deep breath, as in weariness or relief. He just talked of the city night noise as a powerful sound that shook his window (because it is strong), but now he speaks of it as a sweet sigh that seduces him (like a woman).

When he says: “four walls won’t hold me tonight” he means that he is so attracted to the city life that he can’t stay at home, he must go out and enjoy it.

HOLD ME= Have me (inside)

APPLE= New York is called “The Big Apple”, so when he says “if this town is just an apple” he is talking about New York, and to bite the apple means to have a big time or to succeed in New York (in this case it is to have a lot of fun).


WHY DOES HE DO IT THAT WAY?= If the object IT is referring to "human nature", then this HE probably refers to God (or so many people think), like meaning that he can't understand why God made human nature (and so his own nature) like that because life and human nature are mysterious (wonderfully mysterious). Most of the transcriptions of this song (95%) say "why does he do me...", but that doesn't make any sense and if you listen carefully to a high definition recording (for example clicking here) you can easily see that that ME is not here.

‘EM= (coll.) Them.

IT’S HUMAN NATURE= If something is human nature, it is natural, it is difficult (or impossible) to resist, you must do it because that is what people do in that situation.

REACHING OUT= To reach out is to extend your arm to get or touch something.

STARE= To watch intensely, without blinking.

HEART= /hɑ:*t/ The inner organ in your body that pumps blood. If you heart stops BEATING, you die. The heart of a city is the city centre, where the important things happen.

PAIN= Suffering (I'm not sure he actually says "pain" here, but it certainly doesn't sound like "way" to me, though "I like living this way" would make much more sense here)

love9998 said:

i think he is describing the natural desire to get out and see the city ( referring to New York in this song). He is not describing a literal girl in this song but he is referring to New York as a girl that is calling to him. The girl is the "stranger" he is referring to b/c the city is unknown to him and he desires to be a part of it. Electric eyes are just the city lights. He is describing how the city never sleeps and is always living. But hey! this is just my interpretation!!!

And a very good one, I should say ;)

Note: b/c = because

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