Going The Same Way – Tracing Footsteps #12
Our final Tracing Footsteps is written by Nicola Scott, a lawyer from the South coast UK.
Reflections on my journey as a Hanson fan – from pre-teen girl to young adult to thirty-something professional.
Whilst my Hanson story is unremarkable in many ways – [I discovered Hanson in mid-’97 thanks to an ad for mmmbop in one of the many music magazines I read, I subsequently bought the single, instantly became enshrined in a Hanson bubble, saw them live in ’98 at Wembley which only cemented my infatuation and haven’t been able to shake them off since] – to me, it is a remarkable tale which has shaped my life and still causes my heart to skip a beat.
The inspiration to write this piece materialised a few months back when I found the time to do a task I had been meaning to do for years – sift through my 90s collection of Hanson recordings. This includes TV shows I had video’ed and radio appearances I had taped. In listening to a few of those interviews I was taken aback by the impact they had on me all these years later. It was as though I had found the key to the hidden portal of my younger self. I was flooded with ‘all the feels’ I had when I originally listened to and/or watched those appearances way back as an 11/12/13-year-old. The fact that those emotions were inexplicably immortalised within that footage felt magical, addictive even.
In many ways the late 90s was the golden era for Hanson fans because the boys were everywhere – plastered on pre-teen magazines and all over kids’ TV. Back then I recorded every Hanson appearance that I possibly could, I cut out and kept every magazine feature large or small and I even religiously watched my TTMON video every night for two years. It became an obsession (some coined that last habit OCD). Yet it wasn’t unhealthy and it didn’t end in destruction. Quite the opposite; it made me immensely happy and set me on a path which I am now incredibly grateful for.
I sincerely believe that their wiser-than-their-years maturity and down to Earth aura had nothing but a positive effect on me. At 11 years old I wasn’t alive to the boys’ integrity the way I see it now. I remember clearly my mum commenting at the time how eloquent and well-grounded they seemed (yep, even in Zac’s crazy “You love me, you really love me” moments) and although I agreed, I didn’t have the perspective and life experience that I have at this point to appreciate it for what it was. I look back now in awe. There is no doubt that their parents are owed a huge amount of credit for the way in which the family were raised and later nurtured through the craziness of worldwide fame and adoration.
As a natural dreamer I would daydream all day at school about ITZ, write notes to my best friend and create little fan-fictions instead of listening in class. It was great. I mean, it got me through the day to day tedium of secondary school. In reality it was not so good for a girl who was thrown in at the deep end of grammar school with a selection of intellectual types and, for once, expected to do more than just float along. Oh how I longed to be home-schooled. In the US. With Hanson. I digress again. Somehow I did alright; I went on to go to college and then university and eventually trained and qualified as a lawyer in my 20s, specialising in a field I believe in wholeheartedly. Although Hanson and their music provided many a distraction, to which some might refer a fantasy world even, I saw this as a helpful outlet. They were a metaphorical abyss that I could escape into at will. A complete relief, respite even, from the drudgery and often disappointing reality of life in the real world. Even now I can find myself in blissful moments of Hanson procrastination; much like Alice in my own Hanson Wonderland. Most songs can take me there, but Ever Lonely, Smile and Cried are the ones which are most likely to whisk me away into that H-shaped abyss.
As you will have guessed by virtue of the fact that I am penning this piece, Hanson still feature prominently in my life. To this day it is still one of the first things I tell people about myself; 30-something, lawyer, Hanson fan (in fact it ranks only second to my profession in my IG and Twitter profiles). Does being a Hanson fan define me? In many ways, yes. I am certainly very proud of it. The funny thing is, years ago Hanson seemed to be like Marmite (for those who aren’t familiar with that analogy – you either loved them or you really were not keen), and I would take great delight in telling my peers that I was a huge Hanson fan and then sit tight and wait for their response (either overwhelming love and a sense of camaraderie or complete disdain). Whichever side they fell, I was proud as punch that Hanson were my band, my colour nailed very firmly to the mast, so to speak.
Trawling back through my many cassette and VHS tapes to find the snippets of pure 90s Hanson was something I had been putting off. In truth, aside from being a busy person (aren’t we all?), I think I subconsciously delayed this because I knew it would be a bittersweet exercise. These windows of memories often bring a tear. Why? Is it the fact that a moment that meant so much to me in my younger, naïve days has been captured in time forever, enabling it to be re-lived over and over? Or is it because it confirms that those moments in time have in fact passed? My younger self was absolutely certain that one day I would meet and marry Taylor. Two decades later I have accomplished the first of those things, numerous times, but the latter, well, I’ll leave that one there. Actually, I’d love to talk more on that subject but it seems to have become the elephant in the room amongst a lot of Hanson fans. I am going out on a limb here in saying that most girls of a similar age to Hanson who have been fans since the early days dreamt of marrying a Hanson brother at some stage. We know for sure that for 3 of those girls their dream came to fruition. So we have all now grown up; a lot of us are married ourselves and/or have our own families. But I don’t think there should be any shame or immaturity associated with acknowledging those old dreams from time to time. One of the last times I met Tay (at a walk in the UK) he came up to me and personally introduced himself out of the blue. Moments like that, to me, are magical and I realise that I cannot possibly stop my heart from going into overdrive, even if I tried. When you have invested so many years of energy and love into someone, albeit from afar, I don’t think those dreams ever completely leave you, no matter how happy your day to day reality is.
The day I found out Taylor was married and to become a father marks a significant point in my Hanson timeline. At 16 I slowly began to realise that my pre-teen/teen fantasies of marrying the blonde, long-haired man of my dreams were somewhat misplaced. This was, in some strange way, a relief. It meant I could in part let go of that particular ‘impossible dream’ and just sit back, enjoy and savour everything they so passionately put out there. I was free to absorb it like a sponge without worrying about how to become a part of their lives. To use another analogy, it’s similar to being at a Hanson gig – you can choose to watch it through the lens of your camera or phone screen as you record footage and take 3,246 photos, or you can choose to be present and in the moment, soaking up the atmosphere, embracing the sights and sounds and not worrying about capturing every cute thing they each do (I mean, would any camera have the memory capacity for that?!).
This seems an appropriate point to share my thoughts about what it means to be a Hanson fan. Just as we are all unique as humans, I truly believe that being a fan of anything or anyone manifests itself differently in each of us. In terms of Hanson, some will devote their lives to attending every gig possible or collecting every item of memorabilia or to tirelessly spending hours keeping up to date with the band’s movements only to selflessly share this with other members of the community (regarding the latter, you know who you are – and I for one am eternally grateful). Others keep Hanson in their hearts at all times, they’re not guarded about this love – they will tell anyone who cares to listen – but they don’t have a website to show for it or endless flights around the globe for gigs and events. It does not make you any less of a fan if you don’t have all the Hanson.net pins or because you couldn’t make every show on the last tour or because you only discovered them a year ago. I find it very encouraging that lots of much younger fans are coming onboard lately. I would like to think that we are a community who would welcome new blood and embrace the energy and perspective of those from different generations (whether older or younger). This, for me, breathes new life into my own Hanson affair and along with new music keeps things feeling fresh.
When I describe Hanson as the backdrop to my many rites of passage, that is about as accurately as I can articulate it. I see my life as falling into two distinct periods of time – before Hanson and after Hanson. I cannot remember much of the former. Since the beginning of the latter (mid ’97) they have not left my side; sometimes they are very present and at the forefront (i.e. producing new music, making TV or radio appearances or even physically in the country, meaning I am attending shows and soaking up their infectious energy), other times they are in the background quietly going about their own lives in Tulsa (this for me is when they are like the silent memory of a lost loved one you still cherish and remember daily). In short, they enrich my life and I see my journey as a series of events which, without getting too philosophical, I believe happened for a reason at the right time for me. I guess it was in my genes to enjoy great music and follow a wonderful band – my parents are still very much into the Beatles and as such I was raised on a diet of soulful rock and pop. I often receive comments from friends who don’t have a particular passion, wishing that they too had a person or group they identified with like I do with Hanson. And when I take a step back and look at what Hanson give us, as fans, I can see why others might feel envious. I feel humbled that the band I fell for all those years ago comprises of three guys who are endlessly talented and have consistently projected raw passion, dignity, grace and eloquence. They are easy to love and I sincerely hope that they continue to make music and just be, not least so that I can expose my own children to the magic. But if it all stops tomorrow I know that the memories I have created over the last 20 years and the emotions I have felt as a result will never leave me. To quote from a film you may know and associate with Hanson’s early days, “A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets”. That is certainly true of mine.
Thank you to mmmboptastic and Chris for providing me with such a wonderful platform to write and share my story. I truly hope it resonates with a few of you.
Thanks to Nicola for sharing her story with us.
Please do not use or share Nicola’s pictures without permission and credit.