Human Performance

Album: Human Performance (2016)

Songfacts®:

  • This track finds singer-guitarist Andrew Savage troubled by his lack of religious faith. "Ultimately the song is about living in the company of one's own shame," he told NPR. "Perhaps it was the years spent as an altar boy that gave me an inclination toward repentance and atonement. I've never been a believer, but I can understand the appeal of faith, especially when it includes the promise of unconditional love and forgiveness. Human Performance is about the absence of that faith, and how haunting it is."
  • The video was conceived, directed, and puppeteered by renowned English visual artist Phil Collins in Berlin. He explained why he chose to use puppets rather than human actors to tell the story of the song. "I was thinking about the track and how it paints a breakup both elliptically and with such devastating directness," said Collins. "And I wondered what it would be like if this drama was enacted not through naturalism or authenticity but through its partners in crime, doubling and artificiality. So puppets seemed an obvious choice. A puppet is a complex beast, animated by a human but which also, conversely, brings the puppeteer to life. I thought this kind of dialectics could work well with Andrew's lyrics, and also found it funny to give starring roles to puppets in a track called 'Human Performance.'"
  • Asked by Purple.fr about the story behind the song, Andrew Savage said he was in a dark place when he penned the tune. He added: "For the story, I'd just refer you back to the song itself, as that really is the way I tend to tell stories, but essentially I was focusing on the malfunctions of my own humanity, in relation to a specific series of events in my life, which could not be ignored."

    "It's meant to be a bit self-evident by the way puppets are used in the video," Savage continued. "As I see it, humanity is something that's partly performed and party instinctual. Like puppets, we sometimes are controlled by parts of ourselves that we never really become acquainted with, but are always there. This song is me confronting that shadow."

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