Walking With Hanson
With “Anthem”, Hanson calls back to the streets across North America, the soft footsteps of unshod feet.
But these footsteps will be anything but silent.
In walks across the continent, Hanson will continue, with their fans, a story which began seven years ago and probably even further back than that.
As early as 2003, the song “The Walk” had been played at shows – a 17 year old Zac Hanson singing solo about facing fear head on, embracing opportunities, and walking the tight rope alone.
In this song, the challenge was laid out too for the fans, most of whom had little comprehension of the complex web of frustrations that the band had faced to complete “Underneath” or of the “crazy leap” that would move Hanson in such an unexpected direction on their fourth album.
When asked in 2005, to sum up the message of Hanson’s on stage performance, Taylor settled on “hope, passion, believe and kick ass” as the defining qualities of the experience.
For many months through 2005-6, those words and values echoed in discussions about the music industry and the place of independent musicians, as Hanson toured universities across the USA with their documentary “Strong Enough to Break” and launched the website http://www.areyoulistening.com.
However, as they worked on the album “The Walk” in 2006, it seems that hope and passion became about something much broader than making records – somehow Hanson’s attention was directed towards action to help others many miles from Tulsa.
Early in 2006, Hanson met with two young entrepreneurs in their home town and began to consider if they could do something significant for others, using the gifts and talents they had been given. They took a break from the recording process and went to Africa.
Neither Hanson, their record producer Danny Kortchmar, nor their fans had any real idea of what would emerge from this visit – but their experiences in South Africa and Mozambique influenced the band’s horizons and their sound.
What they witnessed and heard sparked their “journey to awareness, to action and to hope” and fueled a long term commitment to fighting poverty through their organisation “Take The Walk” http://www.takethewalk.net/
The song “Great Divide”, which had been written before this visit, was imbued with new meaning and with the addition of the Zulu children’s choir, its driving rhythm and harmony became an anthem which drew people’s attention to poverty and struggle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcifAzv8-bU
This powerful song was released on December 1st 2006, World Aids Day, in the UK and the U.S – as an exclusive single before the release of the album.
All proceeds from the online purchase went to help children impacted by HIV/AIDS, in Soweto.
Because of this “three minute, forty two second song”, 2,000 children received health care and education.
Hanson and their fans had already journeyed a long way on this road, where music and compassion meet and hope becomes a reality. http://www.takethewalk.net/site/takethewalk/section/name/music
Yet this was just the start of the story. As the Walk Tour unfolded, Hanson initiated the project with TOMS, to encourage their fans to purchase these simple “One for One” shoes.
The one mile barefoot walks before the shows began, and the ambitious idea to “Walk Around the World” was just another creative leap away. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEdoYyajTU8
At each new crossing along this road, Hanson had followed their instincts and the signs that prompted them to take risks, trust their fans and push just a bit further.
This forged a new sort of relationship between Hanson and their fans.
For mile after mile, Hanson walked along side their fans, as their peers and as adults equally engaged in doing something immediate and simple to make the world better.
Since then, thousands of fans have walked with Hanson and thousands have walked because of Hanson and the story they have shared. It is a story about making a change, with what you have, where you are.
And great music has accompanied this journey: Great Divide 2006, The Walk 2007, The Walk Acoustic 2007, Take the Walk 2008 and Stand Up Stand Up 2009. All of this music echoed the sentiments of the moment and accompanied Hanson as they toured almost endlessly and walked hundreds of miles with their fans.
In just a few days time, Hanson will begin a new series of walks and the people who have walked many times will be joined by people who have never walked before and the next phase in this story will begin.
For many fans these walks are an exciting opportunity to get close to Isaac, Taylor or Zac Hanson, to speak with one of them or possibly take photographs of informal moments.
But more importantly, walking with Hanson is about living in an age of wealth for some and poverty for others.
It is about getting a little bit closer to the sensation of the hard ground and the cold or heat, the rough or wet of the reality of being without.
At the end of the book “Take the Walk”, Taylor Hanson writes,
“All of us desire to either be great or to encounter greatness in our lives.
From what we’ve seen, true greatness is not about becoming something we are not. True greatness lies in letting go of our fear and inadequacy and acting on what we already are and what we already know. It is found by living in the reality of the moment. It is found in the steps beneath our feet and the ones directly in front of us. If we are willing we can, without question, do something great and help others move from death to life.
But in order for this to happen, we must first do one thing: WALK”.
Anthem is a great album. This tour is going to be a great tour.
By walking together, Hanson and their fans will feel the reality of that moment wherever they happen to be and lives will be changed.
How great is that!
To find out more go to www.takethewalk.net