Look, Listen, Write.
Zac Hanson recently described the “visual identity “of the new Hanson member’s EP as one that features the tools of the trade.
The very implements that surround Hanson day by day, the things that gather dust and rust and form the minutiae of their working day, are their muse as they create the music.
As the features of their landscape become their soundscape, the strings and skins, keys and hammers, sticks and amps that have enabled them to pursue their dreams, come under the spotlight.
This is a thoughtful backdrop as the music is written and art is created, but it is also a call for those who are interested, to be observant.
What we see day in day out is easy to take for granted. The over familiar can become an owned thing.
It is easy to assume that it is known, understood, wrapped up and packaged.
But that is a misguided notion.
It is certain that things change. What you think you see may not be the truth. What you think you hear may not be the truth.
In 2003, Hanson asked the question “Are You Listening” and that question doesn’t go away.
Was anyone really surprised when a seriously intriguing piece about about 20 years since MMMBop by Vulture Magazine, spawned less thoughtful sound bites, which missed the points subtly observed by the original writer?
In the Vulture interview, the art of conversation, with question and answer, gave rise to facts and stories most had not heard before.
It offered insight to Hanson’s own perspective, 20 years after the first version of MMMBop was released.
It benefited from the intimacy of real dialogue and it didn’t give in to the formulaic.
Not for sensation or nostalgia this piece, but for understanding and appreciation. Vulture Magazine Article
While Hanson’s MMMBop has been the focus of attention, the story taking twists and turns in Tulsa has been on the back burner.
Recently, Tulsa World, published a piece about the growing attraction of Tulsa as a city drawing Music lovers. It is the home of iconic venues, writers, performers and festivals. It is home to the Woody Guthrie story and the Bob Dylan archive. It is a city which offers much to find, see, listen to and understand about music history and in the midst of this, just across the tracks, are Hanson.
In the article, Jerry Wofford, spoke to Taylor Hanson.
“The Tulsa-natives Hanson got their start at Mayfest and have for more than a decade established Tulsa as their home base. They have taken their music around the world, but have expanded to beer, music festivals, art and more. They see a spirit in Tulsa that is found in few other places, with a class of creative people who are making their own way, but doing it together as a community.
“The word scene is important because that’s just a collection of people,” said Taylor Hanson in a recent interview from their studio in the Brady Arts District. “That collection of people colliding together creates opportunity. But it never happens on accident.”……..
“I think deciding to say it’s worthy of investment in and it’s worthy of treating it like this is a real industry. This is a real thing that involves people’s businesses and talents and resources,” Hanson said. “We need to be able to keep talented people and get talented people to say, ‘Tulsa. I want to be there.’ ”
Observe this closely and it is clear that the heart of Hanson is in the new, the collaborative and the creative investments which their good fortune and hard work have made possible.
MMMBop, The song that was good to them, along with much more, have earned them resources and respect and Hanson keep looking forward, leaving the misunderstandings and assumptions of others by the wayside.
In May, they will take to North Main Street and bring their third Hop Jam Festival to their neighbours, their fans and those watching the Tulsa music scene.
They will curate and present this party but they are not scheduled to headline. They will attend their party as music lovers but without the spotlight on them as performers.
This news, caused almost as much consternation among fans as the articles about MMMBop, but the difference is that this is Hanson’s choice and part of their strategy for the long-term.
When Hanson first moved to North Main Street and created 3CG Records, the neighbourhood was empty warehouses, parking lots and wire fences. Today it is a vibrant, music filled, hub of growing business and burgeoning ideas.
Hanson were there, before most, generating an atmosphere of positivity and change. They exemplified the spirit spoken of in Tulsa World.
The rewards of this commitment and insight are in the celebration that is a neighbourhood filled with music and music lovers at The Hop Jam.
This is Hanson’s own party and anyone can attend. There is much to see, appreciate and learn about Hanson in this event as it pulls together their circles of influence, their business successes and music fans on the streets they walk almost every day.
Many write about Hanson. Many are fans of the band and many are women. They follow in the footsteps of the early music journalists who went to shows and met the bands.
Before the New Musical Express or Rolling Stone were developing the formula for pop interviews, young women writing for teen magazines, were watching musicians perform, meeting them and talking with them about the realities of their music and lives.
The articles and interviews had an intimacy, which was born from of a genuine and simple interest in the artists and their music.
The writers didn’t reference themselves but they simply shared the artist’s story. They had no agenda other than to show the artists as they found them and be truthful to them.
They had the nerve to go in with the blank page and say what they saw.
Perhaps this year’s Hanson Day and Hop Jam will yield some thoughtful, and simple pieces, told by young writers in love with music, for surely the Hanson fan community has a wealth of journalistic talent within it. Maybe someone will be able to catch the excitement of ordinary people, enjoying the music that Hanson has chosen.
Will someone be able to put into words the atmosphere as the music of John Moreland or Edward Sharpe and The magnetic Zeros, reverberates through the Tulsa night air? Can the secret of what Hanson are creating become as compulsive as Hanson themselves?
If it helps to bring this to a conclusion, I noticed the other day an uncanny resemblance between images from Hanson’s most recent album Anthem and the MMMBop that is 20 years old.
Maybe Hanson had no intention of referencing their first big success in the art work of Anthem, but the connection comes in handy when tying up loose ends.
This song, that is so good to Hanson and makes so much possible, will be referenced to within an inch of its life over the next year or so. That Hanson embrace and extol its virtue says more than most people will ever realise and much that a fan of this band can continue to find out. And The Hop Jam, as it evolves, will be one secret, one seed planted that will insist on growing to its own tune.
Pictures from Tulsa World and Hanson.Net