|Hanson in Chicago, Aug. 2010|
It started at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere.
Okay, not quite. That'd probably be a better story. To be honest, I'm not really sure exactly where "it" started. Maybe my memories have faded over the past 15 years, or maybe there was never really a moment "it" truly began. I just remember turning 13 years old at the start of May 1997 and realizing every last one of my friends was obsessed with this band called Hanson.
I thought they looked - and sounded - like girls.
But as the days went by and my friends hit the teenie bopper stage at full force, I set aside my Beach Boys cassette tapes, flipped my radio dial from the oldies station to Top 40 and joined them, beginning a musical ride that has shaped my life in every way imaginable.
And that's why, 15 years later, I still love those three boys from Tulsa, Oklahoma just as much as the day I purchased my first Hanson album - because they've made me the girl I am and given me a place in this world where I belong.
First and foremost, this stellar harmony is why I fell - and fell hard - for them the first time around. (Thank you, Beach Boys obsession.)
If you're a lyrical junkie like me, there's certain bands in your record collection that have the ability to describe what you'd feeling so perfectly you can hardly stand it. Time and time again, my band has been Hanson. I have an intense relationship with their song, "A Song to Sing." It, quiet literally, kept me alive on nights where my head was in dark places. It reinforces the idea that sometimes all you need is a song to keep you going. I've heard it countless times live, but it still manages to draw a tear or two as I think about how far I've come since those nights where a spinning CD and a pair of headphones were my lifeline. I'm not being hyperbolic when I say without that song, I wouldn't be writing this.
Those boys made me realize I wanted to be a writer. With budding fandoms creating websites all over the Internet in 1997/1998, fan fiction became the thing. I read lots of Hanson fan fiction. Some good (Tulsa 74132 anyone?), some bad (again, Tulsa 74132 anyone?). I wrote my own with my friends - all bad. (Very bad.) I've always been kind of embarrassed to own up to that, but it was part of a series of events that made me realize "Hey, I think I want to write for the rest of my life." And, well...here we are today.
Hanson's music has also given me some of the best friends a girl could ask for. Over the past 15 years, there's a handful of girls I've met and stayed friends with simply because we were all Hanson fans. And they are some of my favorite people on the planet because they get "it" - that indefinable love of music that only true fans can share in. They don't question jumping in a car and driving eight hours to see a band for the umpteenth time, eating crappy gas station food and spending your last few dollars on gas and a ticket. They just get up and go.
And somewhere along the way, that's what changed the experience for me. My love of the music has faded a little bit in recent years, but I kept going to shows because it was a chance to spend time with some of my best friends on the planet. Some of the best memories of the past 10 years of my life have happened with them as we've "toured" together, and I wouldn't change that for the world.
I also stick around because being a Hanson fan for this long has made me feel like I'm a part of something - and that's all anyone really wants in life. You want to feel like you belong somewhere, like you're a part of something bigger than yourself where people understand you. I think that's the reason most of us have stuck around for 15 years - because when we're standing in front of that stage and Zac is drumming away, Taylor is leading us in jumping or clapping along and Isaac is killing a guitar solo...we feel like we're exactly where we belong. And when we're not at a show, the minutes seem like hours and the hours seem like days...
Why the reflection? May 6, 1997 was declared "Hanson Day" by the governor of Oklahoma, but the fans carried on the tradition every year - so much so, that even the band celebrates it with an annual concert event for their fan club members. Which is why next weekend, I'll be packing my bags and hitting the road to Oklahoma to hang out with the girls, go see our boys and make some more memories.
It really is amazing how one silly little song has the ability to change your entire life.