I am often asked what it is that I love so much about this band. In truth it's hard to put into words. There are many things I have come to love about Hanson. But the easiest explanation, is that there is something about people who live life with passion, that inspires me. These three men are passionate about the music they make, and incorporate an artistic aspect into everything they create that is lacking in the music industry today. They have cultivated a community of people who love to learn and ultimately want to experience music differently than listening to simplistic words and a catchy melody. Funny that's where we all started.
Middle of Nowhere was a collection of upbeat pop tunes that ushered in a new era of music. As a young girl those sugary sweet sounds were the soundtrack to the summer where I grew up and even today those memories of a carefree childhood flood me and I smile with fondness. The second studio album This Time Around was slightly edgier and was a much closer representation of who this band is as a collective group. This album would find me in my small corner of the world, a little more grown up and searching for every inch of independence I could find. The music of these albums caught a reflection of who I was at each stage of my adolescence. The joyful bewilderment of discovering the world and all if it’s fascinations, the hardships of losing a loved one, rebellion, learning how to say I’m wrong and I’m sorry, outgrowing friendships, feeling unsure and it being ok.
Every girl Hanson fan or not can say that a band shaped their lives. So I had to dig into a bit more of my personal history to discover what made this band stand out for me to a few years before Hanson was even a glimmer in my eyes. I was nine when I was abused in a very private and personal way. It is a weight that I have carried throughout much of my life. When I was sixteen years old the person who had hurt me had moved back to my sleepy Little town. He was front page news and I struggled to go about my daily life for fear of confrontation. More specifically I remember the nightmare I woke from in the middle of that night. A summer storm ragged outside, the lighting carried shadows across my wall, and the thunder rattled my unsettled mind.
I was too old to find comfort from my parents and yet too young to not be afraid of the visions that replayed in my mind that night. I reached out and found the silver play button on my CD player and I found a song that soothed my terrified heart. “When you have no light to guide you and no one to walk beside you I will come to you. When the night is dark and stormy you wont have to reach out for me I will come to you. Sometimes when all your dreams may have seen better days and you don’t know how or why but you’ve lost your way have no fear when your tears are falling I will hear your spirit calling. We all need somebody we can turn to someone who will always understand if you need the strength to keep trying I’ll reach out and take your hand.” This song expressed the words of eternal friendship and unconditional love. This was the defining moment for me that set this band apart from all the others. They were my safe haven in my darkest hours.
Each song from that moment on allowed me to Understand myself just a little bit better no matter how battered I was from life’s tragedies. When I graduated from high school and went on to college I boxed Up the last remnants of my childhood and I lost track of the three boys who had brought me so much joy in the years before. Hanson re-emerged in my life about thetime I turned 21. I had no idea that they were learning hard lessons of their own, fighting through their own struggles. Curious about what had happened to them I went in search of new music. frustrated but determined I learned that they had made the decision to walk away from their label, and create their own. Through hard work and perseverance the guys followed their own intuition, and ingenuity and released their first independent album. Underneath. These songs represented a time in their life when they were faced with the dilemma everyone has to ask themselves. Do we grow up and let this become a chapter of ourchildhood, or do we push on and do what we love to do? One of my favorite discussions was during an event, where a fan asked the guys which album was their favorite, Taylor had answered that it's hard to pick a favorite."It's kinda like asking which of your children is your favorite." He went on to say that he was especially fond of the underneath album because it was such a visceral time. He often uses words that exceed my vocabulary, and he inspires me to learn what these new words mean. What I learned that day was that the word visceral meant relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect. This album came from emotion, rather than thought. As I listened A little more closely I could hear their frustration, their drive, and their passion. The album is bittersweet for me, I loved hearing how they used this creative outlet for their indignation, and how they used every ounce of tenacity and gumption they had to push past the boundaries of their dreams. I could feel their heartbreak, and my heart broke for them. There was something more tugging at me though, again it was this reflection of the struggles for my own dreams in a world that seemed to take pleasure in breaking you down. I suppose this connection is what kept me around but as time marched on I became moved by these three incredible people.
They have taught me to truly listen to music. How each individual instrument exists on its own. The way each distinct but Separate sound collides into each other, disintegrating into a collective creation. It's fairly common in their music to find sad lyrics wrapped up in happy melodies. They have shown me how the sounds can contradict the lyrics.These paradoxes could exist in an emotional state, such as the track"Strong Enough to Break" from the Underneath album. "I don’t feel myself today, just a figure in the big monopoly game, struggle is the price you pay you get just enough just to give it away." The music is dripping with sugary melodies while the lyrics are expressing hardship. The contrast found in the sound gives the song the impression that the artist is trying to shroud their troubles in positivity. Yet the lyrics convey fear of losing yourself in the expectations of the world. When you take apart the finished product, and breakdown the individual pieces you begin to understand the purpose and the intention behind how the art is created. The sounds are indicative of the album title.. Underneath. The poppy music is the facade, the exterior of a person, while the lyrics represent the emotion underneath our fake smiles, and the lies we choose to tell ourselves. They have taught me how to listen to the whole of the sounds, To hear the personalities each collaborator stamped inside the track, and to find appreciation for the intricacies of the words inside the songwriting. There are occasions where the sounds can express more than one emotion, simply by the way the artist sings the song. A perfect example is found in a song on the This Time Around album called Hand in Hand. The concept of this song follows the sadness of love lost,and the grief that accompanies a couple that is drifting apart. The artistic approach in writing this song is found in the emotions that occur beyond sadness. As you explore the feelings of a man who has discovered the woman he loves betraying his trust. In life our emotions are rarely one fold. As you listen to the nuances in this song you begin to hear the notes of irritation,anger and frustration that seem to highlight the sadness. Not only is he losing the person he loves, but he is also realizing that he has been disillusioned. The gutwrenching way the artist emotes, is equally important to the authenticity of the song. As I listen I begin to appreciate what the artist is feeling.
As I listen through the catalog of songs, one common thread follows me, that I relate to these words, and ultimately feel understood beyond what is shared with the rest of the world. My private emotions and thoughts are touched in this place of retrospection. The more they create the more I hear. Each time I settle on a song, I begin to hear the subtle homage to their inspirations and the references to life experiences as they invite me to be on the inside of their mind. To see the world the way they see it. To touch their private emotion and to judge the quality of their work. This earnest search for criticism isn't for the faint of heart. The unprotected vulnerability is like going into battle with no armor, building no walls, and refusing to cower to insecurities. This raw openness draws me in. To listen to music in this way is to teach and expose the true artistry of music. Their passion is contagious, and I fell in love with the meaning behind their poetry as they remind me what wonder felt like. There are currently six studio albums,and several fan club EP's that represent Hanson’s career and in truth I could ramble about how each one connected with me on a personal level. I won’t indulge that part of me, but I will say that no matter how many years I am blessed with, I will always be in my small corner of the world listening. They are alway growing as musicians and like anything that you tinker with, they keep getting better. They have Introduced their fans to their creative process,their ideas, and built a community around people who share in their passion for creating music that speaks from the heart. Hanson is much like a friend, in that they encourage me believe in my dreams. They have taught me to ignore the negative voices, even if they are only in my head and take some risks. Reminding me that in all the ways that the world tells me I am inadequate or under-appreciated, or just plain wrong, those voices are only mirroring their own fears. I've learned to give up on this idea of perfection in life, and experiment within perceived failure. To embrace the complexities and uniqueness of setbacks, and remember that I can have anything I want in life if only I am willing to work hard enough to achieve it. They have taught me that people will inevitably doubt you, but that doesn't give them the right to define what you are capable of. They remind me that I am exactly who God created me to be, and to never allow someone else to determine my worth for me. With a life message like that, it's no wonder why they inspire me. I truly cherish people who stands for hard work, perseverance, positivity, compassion, friendship and faith.
Thank you to Isaac, Taylor, and Zac for all that you share with us no matter where were all are in the world.