Welcome back to another Fan Experience blog. Let’s just knock out my two favorite artists right off the bat, shall we? Sit back, relax, and enjoy the next in my Fan Experience series of posts. This time, I’ll be exploring my past with a band of brothers who have been a part of my life for twenty years: Hanson.
The year was 1997. I was four years old, and my musical knowledge consisted of the country music my mom introduced me to, Elvis’ music as introduced by my dad, hard rock from my brother, and the Spice Girls. I can’t remember the exact moment that I discovered Isaac, Taylor, and Zac, but my first glance at that little cassette tape of their first major label album Middle of Nowhere and I was in love.
I clearly remember listening to nothing but Hanson, recording every single television special they had anything to do with, obsessively watching their first live home video Tulsa, Tokyo and the Middle of Nowhere (I can quote the majority of that film to this day), teaching myself to read the album liner notes and memorizing the lyrics to every song on the album. While I was already a tiny little fangirl, completely convinced that I would one day be Mrs. Taylor Hanson, there was also something more to my ‘obsession’ with Hanson. I was fascinated by the fact that all three of them played their own instruments. Even at four years old, I knew that they wrote all their own songs. I could recognize their individual voices at any given point in a song. They taught me what music was, what it could mean. And at the time, I couldn’t even know that they would continue inspiring me with their music for so many years to come.
1998 brought Live from Albertane and another home video that I could never stop watching. After this, there was a period of time where I sort of drifted away from the guys and their music. It was actually quiet for a while before the second album. I can’t even really remember my experience when This Time Around came out. I look back now and realize that I didn’t appreciate that second album then nearly as much as I do now. Some of my favorite songs come from that album.
After This Time Around, things got even more quiet. What I didn’t know at the time was that Isaac, Taylor and Zac were facing a difficult battle for control over their music and the band. I can’t even really begin to explain this in detail—it’s not my story to tell anyway. I suggest you check out the documentary, Strong Enough to Break, which chronicles the guys’ journey between releasing This Time Around, being dropped from a major label, and eventually starting their own independent record label, 3CG Records. And then came the release of Underneath.
Underneath was the first studio album released on the new independent label. It was 2004, and I was eleven years old. I remember the day the album was released, sitting in school anxiously waiting to get out and go buy it. When I walked out of school that day and saw my grandma’s van, I saw that she had the CD sitting up on the dashboard waiting for me. I was just so excited. I had drifted away, but I was coming back and I was finally getting to hear new music from my favorite band.
It’s hard to explain my time with Hanson over the years. I fell in love with Underneath, still obsess over the absolutely beautiful songwriting on that album. I saw the guys live when they went on tour to promote it. At eleven, I couldn’t exactly appreciate the reality of seeing them live—I was more concerned about the fact that I wasn’t tall enough to see Taylor over the crowd.
Then there was The Walk, and the campaign to support HIV/AIDS research in Africa. Then came Shout It Out, the more upbeat, fun album. And then came Anthem, and all the little unreleased songs in between. So much happened over the years, so many memories and shows and things. Every song sparks some emotion in me. Every word that has been written is so meaningful and strong. It’s hard to even put into words how much I love their songwriting. It’s one of the best things about them.
With Hanson, though, it’s not necessarily about what has happened in relation to them in my past. It’s not all the videos watched, the memorized song lyrics, the posters plastered all over my walls. It’s not the concerts or the albums bought. Hanson is important to me because they have always been there. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have their music. Every time I have needed one of their songs or some memorable moment from them, they have been there. Whether it be new music, or an old favorite at just the right time, I never get tired of hearing a Hanson song.
So although this little fan experience may not be as visual and detailed as my David reflection, it is equally heartfelt. That little four-year-old fangirl has grown into a 24-year-old music lover—and still a fangirl. I understand so much more about the meaning of this music, and I have learned so much about the world of music itself through this incredible band. Without even knowing it, Isaac, Taylor and Zac have been and always will be a major part of my life. I’ll never be able to properly thank them for their inspiration, their commitment, and their always-evolving music, but I will simply say it anyway: Thank you.
2017 marks the 25th anniversary of Isaac, Taylor and Zac officially forming the band, and 20 years since the release of Middle of Nowhere and that infamous little song that started it all, “MMMBop”. They’ll be celebrating the anniversaries with the Middle of Everywhere Tour this fall, and I’m so excited that I will get the chance to go see them again.
Here’s to 20 more years, fellas.