September 16, 2008

Follow Up: Chris Zane On "Look At Who You're Talking To"

Human Television -- Look At Who You're Talking To
Readers will recall our Clicky Clicky 200 post a couple weeks back about Human Television's transcendant little ballad "Look At Who You're Talking To," the title track to the band's sophomore set which ranks 86th in our countdown of our most-played/most-enjoyed tracks. In the item we speculated about the genesis of the very nice and emotive string arrangements in the song, which in our opinion seemed a little too nice to have sprung from the mind of someone unfamiliar with orchestral composition. And it turns out we were right. Upon reading our rank speculation, producer Chris Zane dropped us a quick note with some hard facts about the sessions he helmed during the recording of Human Television's Look At Who You're Talking To. Mr. Zane reports that when finishing the tracking, Billy Downing, the band's primary songwriter, still had a bit of a song, "In Front Of The House." left over that Zane fancied. So Zane brainstormed recording it with just acoustic guitar and voice, and then adding in the strings. And, indeed, as we noted earlier this month the strings were arranged by a John Fields, but not the John Fields we referenced in our earlier item. Instead, the Mr. Fields in question was "a guy working at an ad agency in midtown," Zane recalls.

The producer said he played Mr. Fields Nick Drake, or something like the work of the tragic British singer/songwriter, and instructed him to "rip this off, long notes only, nothing shorter than a quarter note." After some minor tweaking, some heavy string talent was brought in from a city orchestra and paid cash to run through the parts while Zane rolled tape. The strings were recorded in about six takes. And while that was occuring Zane thought to capture some video, which makes up the bulk of the video that topped our original post. On a related note, our favorite radio personality also read the post and brought to our attention that Philadelphia trio RunRunner had covered Human Television's "In Front Of The House," the fraternal twin of "Look At Who You're Talking To," during a radio session broadcast by Princeton University's WPRB in January 2007. As luck would have it, the cover ended up in our inbox late last week, and we're posting it below. We don't hear much about what RunRunner is up to these days, but hopefully they are working on a follow-up to its self-titled debut, which we reviewed here in April 2007.

RunRunner -- "In Front Of The House (Live)" -- WPRB Radio Session, Jan. 16, 2007
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[buy Human Television records from Newbury Comics here]
[buy RunRunner music from EMusic here]

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