I’ve gotten a LOT of crap over the years for liking Hanson. And I don’t blame people for acting surprised, or even teasing me about it. I realize they have a (10+ year-old) reputation for being super-pop-y, seemingly one-hit-wonders. But I do have to respectfully disagree with them. Because without Hanson, I have no idea if I’d have ever gotten into music so deeply.
Let me explain…
I LOVED Hanson in 1997, in the early days. Loved them. And how cool was it that they where from Tulsa of all places, where I lived?! I, like every other female (and many males) under the age of 18, had “Middle of Nowhere.” I spent much of my time back then (was I really only seven?!) jumping up and down on my bed, singing along. I plastered my walls with posters and clippings from the newspaper and magazines. I argued with my friends about who was the cutest, and who sang what part on which song. I was a normal, obsessed, little girl.
And I got to see them live. It was the first real concert I ever saw. I mean, I’d gone with my parents to small shows of their favorite local bands, but this, this was different. It was a BIG DEAL.We stood in line for hours downtown at the PAC to get our tickets. And finally the day came. We drove to the Mabee Center and I was so excited. It didn’t matter to me in the slightest that we had the worst seats in the house, all the way at the top of the nosebleeds. I don’t remember too much about the concert itself, except that I watched most of it through binoculars, nearly went deaf from all the shrieking and that my brother Riley, who can’t have been older than 4 at the time, fell asleep before they played ‘Mmmbop’ and he was very disappointed afterward.
Anyway, after that concert I actually got to attend a second the next time they were in Tulsa. That time tickets were only available by phone, and I can remember standing outside in the summer, watching my friend Katy’s mom dial the hotline over and over again, trying to get tickets. Finally, she got through, and asked for two sets of three tickets, so we could pick the better seats and just sell the others. They informed her that they only had one set of three seats together left, so we were lucky to get them. Again, we ended up in the nosebleeds, but it didn’t matter one bit to me.
After the initial fervor, time passed. Their next album came out, and I had a copy of it, but I can’t really recall ever listening to it. I was over Hanson; it was just a phase. Or so I thought.
Okay, fast forward about six years, circa 2004. I can vaguely remember when Hanson debuted their new album. In fact, at one point I remember watching MTV one morning, and the music video for ‘Penny and Me’ came on. I actually changed the channel, because I didn’t want to get sucked back in. So much for that.
Later that summer, I was attending a camp when I met a girl named Libby who loved Hanson. As we got to know each other, she burned me a copy of their latest album, “Underneath,” and just like that, I was a convert.
Luckily, Hanson was just about to start their tour to promote “Underneath,” and they were kicking it off (or maybe concluding it–I don’t quite remember) with back-to-back shows at Cain’s Ballroom in August. Libby and I went the first night, and had such a great time that I begged my mom to let us get tickets to go again the next night, which we did.
I should mention that at those two concerts a band called ‘Ingram Hill’ opened for Hanson. About three months later, they came back to Tulsa, and my mom, Libby, and I went to see them. The opener for that show was a little band from Oologah, OK named The Effects. A band that I went on to see live many, many times. And through them, I found Ha Ha Tonka (then called Amsterband), and then Ludo, etc. And that developed into me going to more concerts than in any other period of my life. I swear, some months I had a show to go to every WEEK. And the only reason I discovered these bands, and developed such a keen interest in live music (hell, even music in general) is Hanson. I am extremely grateful for that. But I digress–back to the Hanson component of the entry.
After those concerts, I was hooked. I listened to “Underneath” constantly. Anytime we drove anywhere, I automatically slid that CD in. I don’t know how my family stood listening to the same CD over and over again with me. I bought new Hanson posters and hung them in my room. It was 1997 all over again.
There are a lot of things I admire about Hanson. To begin with, they’ve always played their own instruments, even when they were kids. They’ve always written their own songs. They sound just as good–if not better–live as they do on their albums. Hanson is an independent band. After years of struggling with Island Def Jam, they fought to be released from their contract and began their own label, 3CG Records. That whole ordeal is captured in a documentary, ‘Strong Enough to Break,’ which can be found on YouTube, or purchased from their official Web site, hanson.net. The band is now deeply involved with TOMS shoes, as well as several charities, and I believe TOMS immense popularity in the Midwest is thanks to Hanson’s promotion of them for the last three years.
All of these things are reasons why I respect Hanson. But there is one undeniable reason I love Hanson: the album “Underneath,” and the effect listening to it has on me. I love music, and listening to it always has some mild emotional effect on me, usually just cheering me up or calming me down. And sure, when I hear some songs they remind me of some event in my life. But the second I hear those first bars of ‘Strong Enough to Break’ (the first track on the album) something just overcomes me. It’s this strong, unbelievable pull back to right where I was in my life when I first began listening to it. The feelings I get when I listen to that album are nearly indescribable. There’s just something incredible about it.
To summarize, I love Hanson. They’ve come a long way since the “Middle of Nowhere” days. They’re in their mid-to-late twenties, all married with multiple children (weird, huh?.) And while I’m no longer obsessing over them every day, and I’ve gone through periods of not even listening to their music for months, in the end, no matter how long it’s been, their music always gives me that same, indescribable reaction.
Below I’ve included some pictures from a concert a couple years ago, and some videos (off their ‘Underneath Acoustic Live’ DVD, which I’ve watched so many times I know every bit of stage-banter and pretty much every facial expression they make without actually having to look at the screen) so you can see for yourself how they’ve progressed.
Isaac, the eldest.
Taylor, the middle brother.
Zac, the youngest.
The classic, in case you want to refresh your memory.God, this takes me back.
Also, this is the most random, disjointed music video in existence.
‘Strong Enough to Break’
‘Crazy Beautiful,’ I love this stripped-down acoustic version.
A cover of ‘Teach Your Children.’ You can really tell how vocally gifted they are from this performance.