It was the summer of 1997. I was 12, and just about to enter dreaded middle school (eek, I know). Old enough to stay home during the day while my parents were at work, and make plans for sleepovers with my girlfriends, and watch all the VH1 & MTV I wanted. I liked to watch the Top 10 Videos regularly on both. This was before the Carson Daly and his Total Request Live (TRL) days. It was the glory days of the 90’s music scene, especially for a 12-year-old girl, with hard-hitting female rock anthem singles like “Don’t Let Go” by En Vogue and the premiere of the Spice Girls with “Wannabe” and “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks. It was also the summer for “Quit Playing Games with My Heart” by the Backstreet Boys, and each of my friends and I scrambled to choose our favorite BSB.
Androgyny was making a huge ruckus on screen when Savage Garden released their savagely catchy chicka-cherry cola single “I Want You” and I remember sitting on my couch (a rehabbed and reupholstered but still terribly uncomfortable old train bench with a wooden ledge right where your head went when sitting up, resulting in many a bruise at the back of the head) mesmerized when, for the first time, a new band of siblings (no one could tell right away if they were brothers, sisters or a mix of the two) came onto my television screen jumping, rollerblading and roughhousing around playing their own instruments and singing a song with nearly unintelligible words, but an insanely catchy chorus full of pop-scat, titled “MMMBop” by Hanson.
An obsession was born.
I collected their memorabilia. I knew every word to every song they sang. I special ordered their mixtapes and garage recordings from our local music store. I memorized every fact there was to know about each of them. I knew their astronomical signs and frequently read their horoscopes to see how their days would be. Taylor Hanson, the middle of the three, who specialized on the keyboard, was my favorite. I daydreamed about marrying him. To this 12-year-old girl, it could surely happen!
In middle school, I was teased mercilessly for being so open about my fandom. I wore their t-shirts to school, and their cd’s stayed in steady rotation in my cd player. We did a song lyric project in 6th grade and I used one of their songs, even though I had to present it to the class and chose to bring that new tidal wave of humiliation my way. I didn’t care: I loved them.
Each summer, they went on a North American tour, and I always pined for the release of their tour dates, and inevitably each and every single summer, the date they were to be in Chicago: I was already booked and paid to be at Girl Scout Camp in Wild Rose, Wisconsin. It was a comedy of errors, really. Each of my friends who were much more closeted about their Hanson fandom went to their shows, enjoyed themselves, and told me very little about all that I’d missed while away at camp. I envied them. I hated that it seemed like they weren’t as big of fans as I was, but they still got to see them live. In my opinion: they took it for granted.
An obsession continued.
Throughout my life, I’ve always downloaded or ordered Hanson albums. I’ve been a member of Hanson.net for as long as I can remember. Hell, even my Dad openly admits to loving the day when he can yank out their Christmas album, Snowed In, and throw it on during the holidays. He’s been conditioned! It’s become a part of mine and my families identity!
This past March, while M and I were packing up our house in Florida to move to Champaign, an alert came to my email:
Hanson was going on tour.
To celebrate 25 years of making music.
I went online immediately, still in my jammies, and purchased two tickets for their show at the House of Blues in Chicago. It’s a good thing I did because the show sold out in less than 24 hours.
This past Saturday, October 7, 2017, over 20 years since those boys with long blonde hair first appeared on my television screen and sang something about “plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose, you can plant any one of those!” I stood in the front of the first balcony and held back my tears of joy while I watched them play for two and a half hours. I danced, I sang along, I clapped, I cheered, and I fucking enjoyed every goddamn moment.
Taylor stopped between songs at one point to chat with the audience. He was introducing one of their newest singles, “I Was Born” and he said something to the tune of, “We believe every single one of our fans was born to do something uniquely them. Only you know what you’re born for, so it’s your job, no one else’s, to do it, to be it, or to go there!” I teared up because what the hell, Taylor Hanson, when did you become such an eloquent motivational speaker?! He continued, “We love each and every one of you, and so this song is dedicated to everyone who has EVER taken any shit, from anyone, ever, for being a Hanson fan.”
The room erupted in complete and utter validation. I, personally, had waited 20 years for this affirmation. And I finally got it. I had taken 20 years of bullshit judgments from other people for having my own independence and taste in music. 20 years of insults. 20 years of condescension. And Taylor Hanson gave us, everyone in the room, including me, this recognition and appreciation.
A dedication remains.
I will love Hanson for the rest of my life. Because I’m “Crazy Beautiful”. Don’t even bother giving me shit about it, ok? ❤