Twenty years.

“You have so many relationships in this life, only one or two will last, you go through all the pain and strife, then you turn your back and they’re gone so fast. . .” — Hanson, “MMMBop”

So, twenty years. Twenty years since Middle of Nowhere, since the one song that actually did change my life, since I started writing, since I got on the roller coaster. Just like “MMMBop” “got bigger than a song,” according to Zac in a recent interview, this band with a song about loss got bigger than a band. Friends and relatives come into and drift out of your life, school ends, jobs come and go, television stations become nothing more than endless marathons of their pet reality show, hair and clothes and makeup styles change, you move to different apartments or houses or cities or countries, entertainment shifted from television to computer to smartphone, and yet Hanson remains one of the closest things to forever that I know.

I can’t even imagine what kind of life I’d lead right now — who I’d know, where I’d live, what might have its hold on me instead of music — if I hadn’t heard a song, bought an album, and joined a fan club. I’m hardly in touch with any of the friends I knew before, but I’m still close to many friends I’ve made along the way. They’re scattered from the other side of my house to the other side of the world, and I’d have never known any of them if things had been different. On its bad days, the fan group is a high school from which nobody ever graduates, but on its best ones, it’s family.

For the last two years, I’ve intentionally kept Middle of Nowhere on very minimal rotation; I think I’ve listened to it in its entirety as an album about four times total. Some songs and albums, when they stay in rotation, they also stay ageless, but when you don’t listen for awhile, it gains back a bit of its original novelty. Nothing can make it completely new again, but I want to remember when it was and what it meant then. It was my first example of kids my age not just doing something well but running the show. They wrote or cowrote all the songs, they played all the instruments. Around the time I got Middle of Nowhere was the first time I picked up a pen and thought, “Hey, maybe I can do something well someday, too.”

When I can focus well enough to finish things a bit better, I’ll clean up some of that old writing and post it here. For now, happy Hanson Day. Isaac, Taylor, Zac, I can’t thank you enough for everything.

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