Singing one More Song
Yesterday was the 21st birthday celebration of Hanson as a band and their music.
At the Irving Plaza in New York City, Hanson held a birthday party with their fans while the music and media world watched slightly from the sides, a little in awe and a lot in admiration of the moment.
21st birthdays are perhaps clichéd in their promise of independence and freedom. Certainly for Hanson, the keys to control of their own decisions and freedom of expression were acquired a long time ago. For them the 21st birthday was more of a statement and celebration of where they have been, ready for the launch towards the boundaries of song that is album 6 – Anthem.
In searching for references to being 21, an interesting quotation from Benjamin Franklin showed up. Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was an author, scientist and politician.
His observation on being 21 is,
“At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgment.”
This quote certainly resonates with Hanson as since even before they were in their early 20s, their story has been one of fierce determination to succeed, be independent, say what they mean and do it all with astuteness and humour.
Now at the ages of 32, 30 and 27, the brothers Hanson bring keen intelligence and inventiveness to the creative table with the new album Anthem.
This can be seen in the music, which brings together and develops their love of certain sounds as well as in the clever way that they have promoted and launched the record.
As this is being written, Anthem is #4 in the pop charts and #24 in the general charts on ITunes.
If Franklin was right, when Hanson as individuals reach 40, they will be drawing on their experiences and judging the moments with even greater precision – the promise of that must excite and inspire although exactly what that will look like for fans of their music – only time will tell.
The set list from last night’s party took the music from Middle of Nowhere, opening up with “Thinking of you” – the first track on that album, to “Scream and be Free” from Anthem.
This song invites the listener to trust the inspiration of the moment, follow their passions and shape their own story, with Hanson as their muse.
Throughout the evening Hanson sang the songs that have been statements of their own story – including This Time Around, Strong enough to Break and Great divide.
An interesting note is that Hanson did not end the party with a face melting rock number but with the gentler “Been there before” from their 2007 album, The Walk.
This is an unapologetic reference to their musical inspirations and journey.
It suggests that Hanson know in their bones that experiences bring you back to the same place, the same moment, time after time.
Hanson would say that in many ways they are no different now to how they were 21 or 16 years ago.
Their passions are the same, the influences are similar, the energy draws from the same inspiration and the music is simply an evolution.
Maybe Hanson and Franklin have something in common – something more than just the ability to play with fire and electricity – The capacity for exploration that leads to invention and discovery.
Anthem is the present shape of that exploration. It is familiar and yet it is new.
It speaks for Hanson now.
Tonight Hanson will perform Anthem and the shape of that exploration will be experienced by everyone there.
For some people it will be a revelation. Many others will know that they’ve been here before.
But somehow – it was never quite like this.
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know it for the first time.”
T.S. Eliot — “Little Gidding”