Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Michael Jackson

Human Nature

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Steve Porcaro (1983).
Hit version by Michael Jackson (1984).

From the wiki: “‘Human Nature’ was written by Toto band member Steve Porcaro about a playground incident his daughter had at school earlier in the day. (A boy had hit her after she fell off the slide – Porcaro said ‘she asked [me] why?’ and he replied ‘it was human nature.’) Procaro wrote the song that night in a studio while the band was mixing their single, ‘Africa’, in another studio.

“Soon after, bandmate David Paich called Procaro one day to make a cassette tape of 2 songs David had written for Michael Jackson’s new Thriller album project, for someone to pick up for delivery. Procaro happened to use the cassette he recorded ‘Human Nature’ on, putting Paich’s songs on the opposite side and switching the labels to read Side-A. It was a happy accident that auto-playback kicked in while Jackson producer Quincy Jones was in his car listening to Porcaro’s cassette demo. Jones got to hear ‘Human Nature’ on Side B, and loved it.”

Behind the Mask

Written and first recorded by Yellow Magic Orchestra (1979).
Hit versions by Greg Phillinganes (R&B #77/DANCE #4 1985), Eric Clapton (UK #15 1987).
Also recorded by Michael Jackson (1982, released 2010), Ryuichi Sakamoto & Bernard Fowler (1987), The Human League & Yellow Magic Orchestra (1993).

From the wiki: “‘Behind the Mask’ is a Synth-Pop song by electronic band Yellow Magic Orchestra, written by member Ryuichi Sakamoto and first produced as an instrumental in 1978 for a Seiko watch commercial. It was later released in 1979 as part of the band’s Solid State Survivor album with English lyrics added by Chris Mosdell. Sakamoto already had the melody line when he asked poet and lyricist Mosdell to write lyrics, which Mosdell based on the imagery of a Japanese traditional Noh mask, combined with a poem by Irish poet W.B. Yeats called, ‘The Mask’.

She’s Out of My Life

First recorded (as a demo) by Tom Bahler (c. 1979)
First recorded (as a demo) by Michael Jackson (1979).
Hit versions by Michael Jackson (US #10/R&B #43/UK #3 1979), Johnny Duncan & Janie Fricke (C&W #17 1980).

From the wiki: “She’s Out of My Life’ was written by Tom Bahler. Although it has been claimed that Bahler wrote the song about his relationship with the late Karen Carpenter, Bahler has stated ‘The fact is, I had already written that song by the time Karen and I became romantic. That song was written more about [my then-girlfriend] Rhonda Rivera … it was after we broke up that I started dating Karen.’ The song became famous when recorded by Michael Jackson and released as the fourth single from his album, Off the Wall, in 1979. Producer Quincy Jones’ first idea was to record ‘She’s Out of My Life’ with Frank Sinatra. Michael’s demo (only him and an acoustic guitar) convinced Jones otherwise. (Demo was released as part of the This Is It bonus disc.)”

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