You can say whatever it is you want about Hanson. I know better.
“What the heck is an MMMBop?” you ask.
I am not sure, either. But, what were you doing when you were 14? Were you recording a four-time platinum album? Or, were you smoking foul ditch weed with your loser friends and watching crudely animated cartoons on MTV?
That’s what I thought.
P.S. The Dust Brothers, who produced Beck’s “Odelay,” also produced “Middle of Nowhere.” Booyah, music snobs.
Hanson was a big deal for me, and not just because they were cute. OK, actually, that is exactly why they were a big deal for me.
“Middle of Nowhere” first hit the charts the summer I was 13, and I fell in love. Taylor Hanson was unlike anything I had ever seen. He had style, he had skills and, judging from the activities in which he and his brothers partook in the “MMMBop” video, he had money. Whereas the Doniphan boy-os might spend a Saturday night gigging frogs, the Hanson brothers obviously enjoyed upper middle-class activities like body boarding.
I wanted a piece of that, but knew I wasn’t as sophisticated as my suburban, Abercrombie-clad competition. I needed to do something to set myself apart that didn’t involve looking good. So, I picked up a guitar. I just knew that I’d be good at it, and that one day it would bring the two of us together.
Actually, that’s the abbreviated version of the story. I wanted to pick up a guitar, but I had been pretty bad about practicing my piano lessons. So, my dad, who was something of a virtuoso, struck a deal with me: If I spent a year playing piano for one hour every day, he would get me a guitar. His spoken reasoning was that I needed to develop metacarpal strength, but I am sure it was because he didn’t want to spend a few hundred dollars on something I would abandon after a week.
Smart thinking on his part, because that is exactly what happened. Playing guitar hurt, and while I could sit down with new sheet music and hammer out something vaguely musical on the piano, I couldn’t read tabs and didn’t know basic chords. An hour on the guitar wasn’t as satisfying as an hour on the piano, so for a while I abandoned my six-string in favor of the ivories.
But the problem with piano is that they’re a bitch to move, and I was a particularly moody teen who couldn’t stand being near other people. The guitar was more portable, so I took it down to my room, along with my dad’s fake book to Eric Clapton’s “Unplugged.” Slowly, I my aching hands learned to form those blues chords. My fingertips grew leathery and rough. My wispy little-girl voice followed suit.
Fourteen years and three axes later, the guitar is still my escape from all the crap in the world. There’s something organic, intuitive about it. While most things don’t make sense to me, music does. I don’t always know where to go from day to day, but if I close my eyes and clear my mind, I can get from chord to chord.
So, thank you Isaac, Taylor and Zac. Your four-chord pop rock meant more than you will ever know.