Hanson with Jimmy Webb at Carnegie Hall
“I never got to hear Berlin or Gershwin perform in a club, however, I will be able to say I saw Jimmy Webb sitting at a Steinway . . . performing his songs. Words and Music that are embedded in the musical soul of our country, and will be played for generations to come.”
Stephen Sorokoff, The Times Square Chronicles
Throughout a lifetime, music marks moments of great change, provides support through difficulties and secures memories more vividly than a photograph.
Particular songs capture the sense of a time and space, along with all the before and after. And over 25 years Hanson have written and performed songs which do just this.
2017 is the anniversary of the start of Hanson’s career as well as their first major album and it is proving to be a year full of surprises. For alongside the interviews talking of Hanson’s known history and current projects, comes an appearance at Carnegie Hall, to celebrate the music of Jimmy Webb.
Webb, born in Oklahoma, wrote some of the most classic music of the late 60’s and 70’s, with hits for Glenn Campbell, Judy Collins and Art Garfunkel, all performers of huge acclaim.
His songs are stories full of gritty real life juxtaposed with beautiful imagery.
Songs like Wichita Lineman and By The Time I Get To Phoenix, are iconic for folks who were radio junkies during that period, while lesser known treasures like The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress, adorns one of Judy Collins’ finest albums.
Webb’s outstanding song writing credentials make Hanson’s appearance alongside many musical greats, a real testament to quality music that transcends age and genres.
Hanson performed The Highwayman, a song that languished for sometime before it was recorded by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash. The history of the song, an ode to reincarnation, illustrates a point that Hanson often make, that songs are written but sometimes take a while to find their place and moment.
Hanson’s warm, polished performance gave depth to the lyrics and the Carnegie Hall acoustic allowed their harmonies to reach every corner of the venue with a tale told sympathetically.
I fly a star ship
Across the Universe divide
And when I reach the other side
I’ll find a place to rest my spirit if I can
Perhaps I may become a highwayman again
Or I may simply be a single drop of rain
But I will remain
And I’ll be back again, and again and again and again and again
Hanson opened the show by singing a cappella, a few lines from Oklahoma Nights, a Webb song recorded by fellow Oklahoman Arlo Guthrie.
While he’s a singin’ of an airless flight
Put the lamp in a window, lead me back
Lead me back to those Oklahoma nights
It is difficult not to think Penny And Me, listening to those words and knowing that Hanson are in NYC, but will soon be back in Oklahoma celebrating their own music with Hanson Day and The Hop Jam just 2 weeks away.
But for a few moments it is good to step away from the crazy musical ride of Hanson events to celebrate the fact that Hanson stand among artists of great stature.
They too create music which marks moments, draws widely from the “musical soul’ of their country and their performances can wow audiences across a universe of musical tastes.