In May 1997, I thought Hanson looked and sounded like a bunch of girls. It was the end of seventh grade, Hanson had just arrived on mainstream radio, ready to kill grunge once and for all with their sunshine-y pop songs, and my friends latched on to “MMMBop” the way only a bunch of 13-year-old girls could. Everyone was picking their favorite brother, playing Middle of Nowhere relentlessly and buying up teenybopper magazines for posters to re-wallpaper their bedrooms.
And all the while I stood back, nose turned up, wondering how on earth anyone thought these guys were cute or could stomach their girlish voices. (It’s also probably worth noting that up until this point, I’d never bothered with Top 40 radio stations. It was all oldies all the time for me.)
That’s exactly how my relationship with Hanson – the band I’ve seen in 11 cities and six states a total of 35 times (which is chump change in Hansonland) – began. With me disliking everything about them.
Much like The Beach Boys, I’m still not entirely sure what finally wore me down with Hanson. It may have been the music. It might have been those brotherly harmonies so reminiscent of the harmonies I’d grown up on with Brian Wilson and co. Or it may just have been the newly 13-year-old girl in me awakening and hearing the siren call only teenage girls who love music hear, telling me this was my band to love.
Boy, was it ever.
How it got started
If I had to pinpoint a moment where my relationship with Hanson began, though, I’d have to say it was the early summer afternoon in June 1997 when I came home from Tammi’s house and couldn’t get “A Minute Without You” out of my head. The guitars, the chorus, the beat all just swirled around and around in my head, a song stuck on constant loop with no way to turn it off.
The next day, I asked my mom if she would take me to buy the album with my babysitting money, and it is in no way hyperbolic in saying that album purchase changed my life forever.
Why I love the music
I was the quintessential teenybopper boy band fan early on. Hanson posters purchased at Sam Goody and oh-so-delicately ripped from the pages of Tiger Beat, 16 and Bop covered my bedroom. Zac Hanson’s four-page fold out poster was firmly tacked above my bed. And oh, how I screamed at that first show in 1998.
But then the band’s second album, This Time Around, came out and something changed. The lyrics were more serious, a little darker; the music a little more rock, a little less mainstream pop. I found myself obsessively pouring over those songs, time and time again, reading all kinds of meanings into the lyrics and trying to divine truths about their authors, as well as about myself.
And after that? Hanson whole-heartedly became one of those bands whose albums were constantly full of lines and lyrics that spoke to me. Their words taught me new things about myself and the world around me. They held my hand and offered comfort as I battled my way through my own teenage angst and beyond. It felt like Hanson was writing music just for me.
Whether they knew it or not, Isaac, Taylor and Zac were always writing the perfect lyrics to break my heart.
Why Hanson makes me…me
Do you ever step back, look at your life and think, “If this one thing hadn’t happened to me, my entire life might be different”? For me, falling in love with Hanson’s music is that moment.
If I hadn’t fallen in love with the music, I wouldn’t have given writing a try at 13 and wound up published in the Houston Chronicle – the moment that sent me down a writing career path. My favorite band – who was my age and touring the world – made me think if they could do it, maybe I could too.
If I didn’t have “A Song To Sing” to cling to in the darkest moments of the anxiety and depression I experienced in late high school and early college, I can say without a doubt that I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this blog post. I’ll never be able to put into words what that means to me.
If it weren’t for “The Walk”, I never would have had the sheer nerve to move to a city and state where I knew no one to finish college and prove to myself I really could be independent. I wouldn’t have learned all the things I need to learn about myself during those crucial years.
If these boys didn’t love music too and didn’t share their favorite bands, I never would have fallen in love with half the music I did after them. And it probably would have taken me a lot longer to find the path of discovering music for myself, not from the radio.
And if I hadn’t fallen in love with these silly brothers, I wouldn’t have met any of “the girls”. Sure, we share a common love for Hanson and nothing is better in our worlds that meeting up in Tulsa every May to celebrate that, but these girls are my everything. They get that longing to be crammed in a car, following a favorite band city to city “on tour”. They get that sometimes, you have to stand in the middle of the venue, eyes closed, and just cry while you hear your favorite song live. They are my very best music friends who are brimming full of bands to share, good advice when I need it, empathetic ears as we all figure out our respective adult lives (and how wholly overrated being an adult is…) and are some of this blog’s biggest cheerleaders. (Sniff, sniff – I love you girls! Is it May 14 yet?)
There’s a line in Hanson’s song “Musical Ride” that sums it up perfectly – It just might change the life you think you’re going to lead. This band is in my DNA. Their melodies are in my veins, lyrics tattooed on my heart. Quite simply, I don’t know who I would be without their music.
As I was writing this post, I was listening to a playlist I put together of all my very favorite Hanson tunes, so I thought I’d share that for good measure. Some amazing lyrics in these songs I can never get enough of:
What band changed your life?
You guys shared some absolutely incredible stories with me just a few weeks ago when I shared my first-ever favorite band. I truly loved reading them, and I’d love to hear from you again – what band changed your life so much, you don’t know who you would be without them?
Forever on a musical ride with Hanson,