#MusingMelodies is a monthly series where I share my thoughts on a music topic and invite you to join the conversation! Read this post, then head over to Twitter and share your thoughts using the #MusingMelodies hashtag.
We all have that one band that defines us. Their lyrics are our personal mantras. Their songs have been our best friends when no one else was there. Without them, we don’t know who we would be.
Suffice it to say, Hanson is one of the bands that has had the biggest impact on me – as a music fan and as a person.
Since I was 13, I’ve taken comfort in the lyrics Isaac, Taylor and Zac write like nothing else. Their songs aren’t just teenybopper pop.
They are, quite literally, everything to me.
From the beginning they taught me to be myself, face the world with a brave face and never give up. Their lyrics have given me solace, provided me with strength and even saved my life over the years – and in this month’s edition of #MusingMelodies, I want to explore how those lyrics taught me valuable life lessons.
Here’s some of the best lessons these blond-haired boys from the middle of nowhere have taught me in my nearly 19 years of fandom:
Log in to Spotify to listen to the songs featured in this post.
When you live in a cookie cutter world being different is a sin
So you don’t stand out, but you don’t fit in
Ah, “Weird”. The original angst-ridden Hanson song that all others have stemmed from. Thirteen-year-old Miranda was all over this song when Hanson’s debut album came out – because what suburban teenage girl doesn’t love a song about how it’s okay not to fit in at that awkward stage of life?
I never really fit into a group when I was growing up. My friends were always the kids I liked, no stereotypes attached. I had to be with the way our school boundary lines were drawn, forcing me to go to junior high with a ton of kids I didn’t know, then transition to high school to be reacquainted with elementary school friends and more new kids.
After after 1998 was over, no one cared about Hanson anymore – yet that was the one thing everyone knew about me. I was the girl who loved Hanson. And I took it as my label.
I remember these two lines of “Weird” being immensely important to me because they pretty much defined my existence – I was different in a way that I didn’t fit in…but I also didn’t stand out. And that was okay because, as Hanson sang to me, we all get a little bit weird sometimes.
Not the most eloquent words put to music, I’ll admit. But it was our starting point to nearly 20 years of life lessons through lyrics.
Don’t cry the fight ain’t over,
Unless you let it pass you by
I have always been the wallflower and late bloomer. I’m also an introvert and very much a passive Taurus. I don’t get riled up and fight for something until I’m pushed to a breaking point.
And in late high school and most of college as I tried to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be, I did a LOT of pushing myself to personal breaking points. It led to some bouts of depression, lots of anxiety about what I was doing with my life and endless frustration that I couldn’t just feel normal like all my peers.
Through all that growing, there were a lot of times where I wanted to give up. I didn’t see my own worth, and I didn’t understand what I could possibly offer the world. I let myself feel unloved and unloveable.
But the thing that always caught me when I was about to hit rock bottom? “A Song to Sing” by Hanson. If I put on my headphones and hit play on my iPod, I’d stop the feeling like I was falling endlessly – because while I might feel like some blue yonder dream or secondhand pair of shoes and so far gone that I live to lose…as long as I didn’t let the fight pass me by, I was going to get through it.
I did, and I do not know who I would be without this song.
No one ever takes the blame, but everyone is searching for a cure to the pain,
Nothing ever seems to change, oh nothing ever seems to change,
We just play like broken records in a deaf man’s charade
This song is the definition of that Tom Waits quote about beautiful melodies telling you terrible things. These lines are the definition of adulthood.
“Strong Enough to Break” is about being stuck in a situation where there are no good options and, on my more cynical days, I feel like that’s what most of adulthood is: being stuck in situations with no obvious good. There’s just lots of shades of grey you have to use your judgement to navigate through and make the best decision for yourself.
Sometimes that means accepting the situation for what it is and learning to cope with it. Other times, that means realizing you’re strong enough to break away from it.
When you can’t get through it,
You can listen to it
These lines are almost an after thought in “Been There Before”, but they are the ones I clung to as a musical truth the second I first heard them.
I’ve spent a lot of time the last few years wondering if I’m too old for music – if it’s childish to take solace in lyrics the way I have a tendency to do.
But “Been There Before” reminds me that’s okay. Sometimes the only thing that can get you through is listening to the songs and lyrics that will get you through it – no matter what “it” is.
Don’t lose yourself in your fear
I can pinpoint the exact moment this song changed my life: it was late July 2004 and I was sitting at my desk in my childhood bedroom watching “Underneath Acoustic“. My spring had been full of BIG decisions: I couldn’t stand the tiny town I was going to college in – I wanted my college experience to be something more. I needed to get out of my comfort zone and prove to myself I could be on my own in the world.
So I decided to transfer schools and move to a city and state where I knew no one.
Because I loved fell in love with a library. (Such a Miranda reason…)
Just at that moment – days before my move – I was having some major doubts: What was I doing, leaving everything I knew behind? Had I lost my mind? Was I insane?! How was I going to make this transition happen and not lose it? I had a lot of anxiety. So much that I had even started talking about taking a semester off from school and “figuring things out”.
(Insert hindsight is 20/20 eye roll here.)
But as I watched Zac perform “The Walk”, one line hit me like a ton of bricks:
Don’t lose yourself in your fear
It was like a punch to the gut. I’d heard the song several times before (including live at least twice the previous fall), but the line never clicked with me until that moment.
Did it alleviate all my anxiety? No. But every time I got myself worked up, I’d just repeat that line.
Don’t lose yourself in your fear
I moved. It was amazing – more amazing that I could have dreamed. I met Sam and, eventually, Katie because of that move. I discovered my love for local music and hung out with local bands. I achieved my dream of interviewing Hanson. I don’t know who I would be if I hadn’t lived in another city and state for five years.
I started off going for a library. I ended up going because of a lyric. And I learned to never lose myself in my fear because it usually means I’m doing exactly what I need to do.
Come on this musical ride with me
It just might change the life you think you’re going to lead
“Musical Ride” = meta lyrics.
In my nearly 19 years as a Hanson fan, I’ve gotten a lot of crap for being just that. I’ve heard just about every “they look like girls” insult and pun on “MMMBop” imaginable.
After 2003, nothing hurt quite as much as people who could not fathom why I’d go and see this band multiple times on one tour. They’d ask when I was going to grow up, when I was going to stop thinking I was going to marry one of them.
They didn’t get it.
It wasn’t about growing up or being a groupie. It was about the music. And later, it became about the friendships.
I was chasing a feeling and the music that provided it. I was living and breathing a unique music fan culture I’ve never experienced with another band. And I was becoming best friends with some incredible girls who shared that same love and need for not just hearing but experiencing live music.
As of writing this blog post, I’ve seen Hanson live 40 times – all but two of those shows have happened since 2003. I travel to see this band live because they’ve changed my life. Everyone should be so lucky to have music make that kind of an impact on them. I hope I never stop chasing it.
If I wait for summer to begin, I may never begin myself,
If we look to another for our dreams they may never become our own,
There’s a story every girl will shape and a journey every boy must take
Over the years Hanson lyrics have gone from angsty teenage anthems to triumphant symphonies of self-empowerment for me. (I think that means this band and I have successfully grown up together.)
“Scream And Be Free” might be one of my favorite songs of triumph. Harking back to my late bloomer tendencies, I feel like over the past two years I’ve finally figured out what I truly want to do with my life: I like working in marketing and communications and it’s a safer option compared to the journalist route I was set to take back in 2007. I enjoy the heck out of putting my creativity into this blog. And I want to write a rock novel to publish – self or otherwise – some day.
This song reminds me that it isn’t enough to have all those dreams – I have to make them happen, which means I have to be willing to put in the work.
And I’m the only one who can make any of these happen.
No more waiting. No more looking at others. I know what story I want to shape – I just have to go out there and do it.
What band or lyrics have taught you a life lesson?
You guys always have amazing stories, and I love reading them. Share your band or lyric in the comments.
Forever in love with Hanson,
Photo credit to Jenny on the RNR Tour last fall