No Rest For Those Who Play Loud
“We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem. We’re a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don’t really have an explanation for.”
“There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis.”
These two quotations, express some of the struggle of the Hanson fan, post Hanson Day 2016 attempting to do justice to the generosity of the experience, unwrap truthfully the meaning of what was shared by Hanson and above all express without fear or censorship, that which must not remain unwritten.
It may be because so much was said and done, that along with getting inside the new music, there is just too much to say.
And as this writer, would rather not write two pieces, what ends up written must capture the essence of it.
If I can, I will bring together threads and themes and even find a place for Hanson’s Christmas Sweater.
Reflecting on the events leads me to conclude, that whilst Hanson have stored up 25 years of experience, practice, execution of great ideas, ignoring the naysayers and being at the tipping point, their perspective is much as it was at the start of their career.
The passion that drove them to sing about planting seeds and watching them grow, is not far removed from the voice that sings 3 chords and invites people to stop themselves from stopping themselves (Taylor).
This in turn is not so far removed from the voice that says to take courage and just do it, whether that is visiting a friend in need or creating something sensational (Isaac). Or indeed the voice that just does it on stage and for the 3rd year in succession creates a song in real time in full public view (Zac)
Each year, Hanson illustrate more clearly how much they trust their fans. This year they allowed them a deeper view of the core that holds and feeds them and in turn produces the music which defines them and has probably always done so.
And what seems clear is that they have always told the truth. The truth of Hanson is honesty, courage, humility and a drive to make something meaningful, to make connections and if they engage with others along the way, that is just wonderful.
They are the boys, taking the journey in Scream and Be Free and that journey goes down to the river of life, sinks deep into it, crosses over it and it just doesn’t rest.
What has clarity to this writer at least, is that the art that Hanson produce and roads that Hanson take, while being less travelled, are overwhelmingly positive and absolutely active. Every pain is a moment to pass through, every mistake is an opportunity to learn, every challenge is a river to cross and every idea is a something if not for today, for tomorrow.
The past is just fine, but the future is where they focus their time.
If I am drawn to speak in Hanson lyrics, it is because it is their language. They do not write lyrics as people meeting a deadline or generating a slogan. They write lyrics that arise from their everyday, that express their beliefs and are rooted in their experiences. That is why their lyrics make connections with the audience and that is why they get stuck in young and older heads alike. Hanson cannot be artificial or contrived. They just don’t have that capacity.
This year the words spoken at the Hanson day lectures and used in the songs on the EP LOUD, referenced the spiritual, ethical and personal, with stories from childhood, comments about personal heroes and songs from Hanson’s music gurus acting as catalysts.
This year, the language had a spiritual tone, with images and characters jumping from Biblical stories and into the space that Hanson created at their Lectures and in their new music. They spoke of the light and dark, of roads less travelled, and they sang of making a joyful noise, rest for the weary, believing in love and going down to the river of life. Such a rich collection of Biblical references giving a definite tone to their very own style of playing loud.
In his lecture, Isaac Hanson spoke with a genuine desire to share his own perspective on making a life worth living and the things that make it such. He spoke of turning challenges into advantages. He encouraged people to follow gut feelings and listen to the whispers of intuition. He spoke of action and making sacrifices and he extolled the original man in black, acknowledging that the songwriter is often a vessel for something gracious that comes as a gift.
Taylor Hanson spoke of passing through barriers that hold back personal creativity, encouraging the audience to look beyond self-consciousness and a little pain; to see through dismissive and negative voices and be confident when ideas happen.
Both gave examples from their own experience. Isaac gave insight into his own vulnerabilities as a gatherer of facts and sometime dweller on the past, while Taylor, told tales of being swept up in moments of creativity, in the midst of everyday life and events.
Ultimately they both suggested that the end result of all the living and creating and being true to yourself, is something that makes life brighter for everyone and that this life long love song is one of giving for giving’s sake. It is a process made up of many small decisions, seemingly ordinary, arising from ordinariness but which can make something extraordinary
Whatever, it is and however it feels, it must not remain unwritten.
Zac Hanson, the realist, made a song. He demonstrated what his brothers spoke about. He wrote the unwritten and channelled his creativity, fearless, unrepressed and without apology.
While the reflections on the inner working of Hanson settle and brew, the new music, on LOUD, is being heard and the music on PLAY is being anticipated. Taking part in the making of a Hanson album must be an incredible high for the fan and so it is no wonder that there is eagerness in the expectation.
What was shared in streams and heard in Tulsa is now finding its audience and as fans digest and review, there are firm favourites among the 5 songs published on Loud.
No Rest For The Weary is a stand out track, with lyrics, vocals and vibe encapsulating the Hanson sound that many fans adore.
The spiritual theme referenced in the Hanson Day lectures, continues here, with one of the most famous quotations from Jesus taking centre stage.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11 v 28
Except that the writer takes no rest or wants no rest or finds no rest. Maybe the truth is that he just isn’t weary. Maybe the truth is that the Loud Play of this art is no burden – this Play energises.
The writer knows that his integrity is whole, that no matter what the world sees or how the world holds him accountable, he lives by a creed that is truthful.
Again the religious language abounds, with saints and sinners on show. But this fool is a holy fool and his wide eyes see what has value.
The message seems to be that Hanson will meet any declaration of the impossible head on. Strong Enough To Break, This Time Around, One More, Take Our Chances and many other songs, greet this presumption with resolution.
At times, I hear Breaktown in this song. Some elements of the melody and instrumentation bring that much loved song to mind. But here there is no longing for retreat. This isn’t a song for finding a hideaway. This is a battle cry.
If Hanson’s musical influences are on show on this album, Something Loud offers possible references to Billy Joel’s River of Dreams. Joel talks of crossing the river, being baptised by fire and searching for something that he cannot define. Isaac Hanson has referenced this song many times when talking of his musical influences and in Something Loud or River of Life, there is much to compare.
River of Dreams has been said to be about the stream of consciousness in writing and In Something Loud, the writer seems to be searching for something to care about.
The drinks on offer aren’t beverages but creeds, meanings and answers given by others, but they all betray in the end. All are tasteless, lifeless, lies and pedantry. What this curious soul wants in something LOUD. When something is loud, it is all pervasive, it is physical, it might be painful but it is undeniable.
Is that being in the middle of the music, or seeing the truth or is it the joyful noise of PLAY?
In 2011, on the Shout It Out Tour, Hanson wrote a Christmas tune called My Favourite Christmas Sweater. They made a video which was recorded in what is possibly a member of Hanson’s living room and on a bookshelf just in view is a book called Play.
Just as Isaac Hanson quoted Tipping Point and Taylor Hanson has mentioned helpful reads, it might be that this book has exerted some influence on the writers of LOUD PLAY.
Play, by Stuart Brown, looks at how Play, defined as purposeless, all consuming, restorative activity, is the single most significant factor in determining our success and happiness.
He explores play, not as guilty pleasure or distraction, but as following that which makes life meaningful and fuels the spirit at the deepest level.
Sometimes this is anarchic, testing, and sometimes it breaks the rules.
He ends the book by saying,
“In the end the most significant aspect of play is that it allows us to express our joy and connect most deeply with the best in ourselves and in others.”
Is this, in essence, what the new music and what Hanson Day 2016 is about? Does this help us to understand the passion of Hanson?
That life offers a series of chances to be creative, to find meaningful ways of joyful self -expression and to do so lovingly.
At the Hanson Day concert, just as Hanson were about to sing No Rest For The Weary, Taylor Hanson talked of the struggle that we are all in and playing the game they want to play.
Maybe LOUD is the place where the music reveals the way that Hanson meet that struggle and offer insight to those who are engaged.
Maybe PLAY is the way that it happens, making a joyful noise, talking about the good stuff, inviting others into the conversation and into the game.
As the cover notes of the new EP LOUD proclaims, making music is Hanson’s playground.
Enjoy the game. Play Loud.
Credit to Hanson, Hanson.net, @hansonmusic on twitter for the images used in this piece.