Human

Album: Human: The Double Album (2021)
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Songfacts®:

  • "Human" is a heart-on-your-sleeve song where a vulnerable Cody Johnson reflects on the temptations in the musician's life. He apologizes to his wife Brandi for spending too much time on the road, drinking too much whiskey, and neglecting her.

    "The biggest job is keeping under control, making sure that you're not gonna turn into 'that person,'" Johnson commented to Billboard. "The more fame and the more money – you watch people and you watch their careers, where they change and they turn into different people. And then you see their lives fall apart, their careers fall apart, and it's like they were a detriment under themselves. Keeping that at bay is really the job, and realizing that there are other things that are more important, I think, is the big takeaway."
  • Travis Meadows (Jake Owen's "What We Ain't Got," Dierks Bentley's "Riser") and Tony Lane (Lady A's "Hello World," Cody Johnson's "On My Way to You") wrote "Human" at the Firehall in Nashville on January 16, 2014. Starting with a couple of phrases ("All the headlights, All the midnights") that Lane had sketched out, they came up with a song about a cowboy-turned-musician who apologizes to his romantic partner for getting "careless with your heart."

    "I call 'em left-handed love songs," Lane told Billboard. "They're kind of the imperfect cowboy, the broken guy, but it's still a love song."
  • Meadows and Lane recorded a spare guitar/vocal demo, which bounced around Music Row for the next seven years. Nobody expressed an interest in recording their tune until producer Trent Willmon played it for Johnson. The singer saw "Human" as an ideal representation of his life and his relationship with his wife.

    "'Human' sounded almost like a 'Dear Rodeo,' part two," Johnson told Billboard. "When you're in an industry where you hear that people like Tony Lane can't get songs cut because they are too country, or they're not fitting into the niche of the newly-appointed, ex-hip-hop program director and what he or she wants, I'm like, 'Bring them to me.' I'm not being cocky when I say this, but I have the gumption to cut them."
  • Johnson chose "Human" to open his Human: The Double Album because he felt it was the perfect song to introduce the record. "I kind of wanted to make the sequential album order the order that I would play this at a live concert," he told American Songwriter. "Usually, at a live concert, the first song would be bam-bam and up in your face and get you engaged. But on this record, I thought that 'Human' was such an incredible song for me and it was so autobiographical. And it was written by Tony Lane and Travis Meadows, and I didn't have a hand in it."

    "But I felt like they tuned in so much to me, with the line of, 'I never wanted to be nothing but a cowboy but somewhere I picked up this ol' guitar.' Well, that's me," Johnson continued. "When they talk about, 'Bless your heart for never trying to fix me or quit me or slow me down.' That's my wife. And I've lived all those lyrics. And I thought: what a great way to not only talk to my fans that have been fans for over 15 years but to talk to new fans."
  • Johnson recorded "Human" during the summer of 2021 at Nashville's Starstruck Studios. The musicians are:

    Jerry Roe: drums
    Joel Key: acoustic guitar
    Justin Ostrander: electric guitar
    Adam Shoenfeld: electric guitar
    Mike Johnson: steel guitar
    Mike Brignardello: bass guitar
    Jenee Fleenor: fiddle
    Alex Wright: keyboard
    Kylie Frey: background vocals
  • Trent Willmon wanted a background vocalist to represent Brandi's harmony in Johnson's real-life relationship. Miranda Lambert expressed an interest but was unavailable at the time of the recording, so Kylie Frey took part instead. The Texan singer provided the right energy. "She was a great addition," Johnson commented. "It softened it up just enough, but not to where it changed the feel. It didn't rob the song of its masculinity."

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