It warms my heart to be able to share this story, probably for the 10th time through out my life, but it is something I share with anyone who asks "Why Hanson?"
As a teenager, I held onto moments, glimpses and almost a daydream versus reality to get myself through some of the worst times in my life. The ability to get through hinges on what we can hide in when the time gets tough, and what can push us through when we need it most, when we feel like we can't anymore. Thankfully, Hanson entered my life right when I needed it, before I knew I did.
In 1997 I was tormented almost daily from my older sister, Christina, about how lame I was for liking some poppy tunes, coming from the 15 year old who blasted her Metallica whenever she got a chance. At the time I didn't understand that tastes were relative, and how dare she not accept this music. So her loud, banging hair metal bands were usually in competition to my soulful, well-produced, favorite band of siblings. She didn't recognize the art, the craft, just as much as I hadn't even tried to understand the lyrics of "Enter Sandman". How dare she not even give my band a try. I never gave up, and probably seemed more annoying than just typical sibling hard-eye-roll inducing behavior. I needed her to just listen.
She didn't... for the good part of a year. I didn't give up though. I hammered the songs, the television appearances I recorded from the VCR, the photos in the magazines, absolutely anything to show her, flood her brain, anything... just so she can understand the connection... maybe even just a little bit, I didn't expect her to understand all of it, the borderline obsession, the song on repeat over... and over... and over... No, I just wanted her to hear it and feel the relief from life like I did.
Our family was grieving and recovering from the lost of one of the kids, our older sister, Mandy in a car wreck in August of 1996. I held onto Hanson, their music, the album I received for my birthday in July of 1997... and I let it devour me, and take me away from the loss, the craziness that was hard for me to understand at 10-11 years old. I needed the escape. I wanted to escape with my only sister I had left.
Christmas of 1997 was pretty valuable to me. It was the last Christmas my step dad, my mother and my sister were together in one room. It was also the Christmas my mother showered me in gifts like a hand-me-down TV with built in VCR, and surprised me with Tulsa, Tokyo and the Middle of Nowhere, which I played on repeat (back when you have to play it, rewind it, play it again...) for all of Christmas break.
I begged Chrissy to watch it with me, after I held her against her will to watch the taped Hanson Christmas Special off of ABC. She obliged... begrudgingly. But she did... And I would glance over at her and smile during the times I thought she would too... and every once in awhile she did. Toward the end when I would get a little squirmy during the Beacon Theatre concert, I'd pick out which girls I wished I was... and how they were just so so lucky to go to this concert, and mom would never go with me, on and on I'd go... about wishing to be a part of the community I envisioned Hanson fans created amongst themselves.
Halfway through the Beacon Theatre show she asks me, somewhat shocked: "You really like these guys don't you?" And I nodded in excitement and almost shouted "Of course!!" Then she gives me a nudge with her shoulders and says probably the most important promise I was ever given at 11 years old, "I'm going to take you to that show. Promise! I love how happy they make you."
Wow. You see, she and I always were at an age where we didn't truly embrace our differences, and found that we just wouldn't ever be close. She got into some troubled times growing up, and I was a book worm, learned how to do web design by practice, and loved a teeny bopper band she could never fully embrace. We started to grow closer after she said that magical but probably empty promise in my bedroom while watching my most favorite video from my most favorite band. We were getting close to the point where I was pretty sure she was going to move back in with us, after she had been with our father for the last four years. I missed her... I was ready!
April 8th 1998, on Christina's 16th birthday, she came to the house, joked around a bit, and talked to my mom, and I remember she asked again about moving back in. My mother of course wanted to make sure she understood school was mandatory, and she can't be running around with the friends that seem to get her into trouble... and it seemed like she would be happier with us anyway.
April 11th, 1998, I walked the four blocks across the train tracks from my mom's to my dad's to ask if Chrissy was going to come say hi to mom later, but as she ran out the door, I could tell she was upset at my dad. She got into the driver's side of her friend's car, waved me off, said sorry she would be back, and drove off. I waved her off, and asked what happened and my dad shrugged and said she was upset about being grounded.
That night, while out bowling with my dad, the lady at the counter called out my name and said to get my father. He said he was up next and told me to tell the lady that he can call her back. The lady shook her head vigorously at me, when I relayed the message, and she exclaimed "No! This can't wait. Chrissy was in a car wreck!" I ran from the desk and to my dad and yelled the same thing back to him, and he wasn't there... he was blank, he wasn't responding, he was in shock... and he didn't rush like I wanted him to. He didn't run to the phone like I begged him to, he wouldn't budge... why wouldn't he go? Why wouldn't he stop?
I ran to the bathroom, I cried, I ran to the front desk and called my mom to come pick me up... I needed to hear that everything was okay. She was good at that. She was good at telling me everything is okay even if it wasn't. Even if she didn't know. Even if she believed it wasn't okay.
Fast forward to about 10pm that night, we saw on the news the mess of metal that was the car I saw my sister drive away with earlier that day. I broke down instantly, and ran to my room and blasted track 12, and cried under my blanket, with my head under my pillow. I bawled. I knew. I knew she wasn't okay. The news anchor couldn't give names, but one person died, and two others were injured. I felt the bad luck... I felt she wasn't okay.
Shortly after, maybe ten minutes later, my father and the police arrive to our door, and my mother told me to go back in after I crept my way past the threshold. It was at that moment I could confirm I lost my other sister. In her memory I requested With You In Your Dreams to be played at her funeral, and it was. Forever that song helps me through loss and pain, no matter the relationship.
Fast forward through the grief, my parents divorce, the trials and tribulations of life, and of course the accomplishments and excitement as well... Here I am at 32, three kiddos of my own, an incredible, selfless and loving man and best friend to call my partner through life, and I'm on my way to Hanson weekend meeting my best friend and so many other amazing people that I remember wishing I was in 1997 watching TTMON on my small 18 inch television with a built in VCR.
Time doesn't heal everything. It helps... it's helped... and my escape... you guys... your music, the community you guys have created... that's helped tremendously. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have the memories my sister and I developed before she died months later. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have my very best friend, Jenna, who I'm so excited to see this Thursday. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have music to share with my own children, to dance to, and get excited about. To relate to, to have conversations about... to help my 14-year-old through her experiences, good and bad.
I don't want to sound cheesy, and I'm sure I will... even though the impact seems little... the little things in life just wouldn't be the same at all if it weren't for you guys. From what I listen to during a certain time of year, to the lyrics I recite when I want to remember things are going to be okay, to looking at photos and videos of friends and I having the time of our life in Tulsa Oklahoma every year.
I remember her... at every concert... and for the first time recently With You In Your Dreams was performed live at Hanson weekend. Of course I broke down and cried and felt so loved, and at home and okay... it came full circle for me. I felt healing... I felt a hello from her... and like I have been saying to Chrissy since I started going to shows that "Now I've taken you to the show."
A lot of songs other than the timeless With You In Your Dreams has so much significance. Their songs about loss speak volumes, but of course their music about just jamming out and being in love.
One of my favorite lines recently, as I'm going through a lot of growth, as is my oldest daughter, is the "You're the perfect girl for the man I'm gonna be." from Chasing Down My Dreams which can be heard on String Theory. I had my daughter decipher what that lyric meant for her, and I explained that not everyone is for you when you did them to be, and that's okay... you're going to be great and you can stop for no one. You need to keep chasing your dreams.
Hanson has always had the talent to get into the issues, as well as keep it light and friendly. They open up doors to allow me to look inside myself and ask if I'm where I want to be, the girl that had hopes and dreams...
Another song that speaks volumes is I Was Born. I love how they, as fathers, incorporated their own family and they seemingly had a blast doing the video. My kiddos 14, 7 and 6 love watching them have fun, dress up and lip sync to their father's voices.
I could go on and on, but I needed to truly hit it home that this isn't just music, or a memory faded that we keep holding onto. This isn't a band who had a few hits and they're still trying to ride the wave. This isn't just an event for a weekend to hang out and party hard with everyone This is a part of life. This is a part of us.
Their show has started communities, friendships, love, memories, relationships, passion, careers... their show is the friend you need when you have no one that understands, their show is the promise of reuniting every year with familiar faces, carrying on the torch to a new generation, and keeping the fire alive. Their show isn't just music, people, shouting, clapping, dancing... it's all of that and more. I'd love to explain in explicit detail, but I don't think you'll understand until you're standing in line and you walk right in with the rest of us.
Isaac, Taylor, Zac...Thank you for the show.