best of . . . my list, not
1. MMMBop (Hex Mix)
2. If Only
4. Crosstown Traffic (Live @ the Hammerstein)
6. Sure About It
9. Thinking of You (Dust Brothers Mix)
10. Thinking of You (Live @ the Hammerstein)
11. Weird (Movo Mix)
12. Piece of My Heart (Live @ the Hammerstein)
13. I Don't Know
14. A Song to Sing
16. Runaway Run (Live @ the Hammerstein)
17. Wish That I Was There
18. What Christmas Means to Me
19. I Want You to Want Me (Live @ the Hammerstein)
20. MMMBop (Acoustic 1997)
Having all of my current favorite Hanson songs on one album is like having
a week of consecutive snow days--so luxurious. And yet, at the end of
the day, it also feels unearned. Also kind of like cramming too much popcorn
into your mouth at once. I guess I realized that anticipating my favorite
songs actually enhanced the enjoyment. But either way, of course, the
list is always shifting.
This exercise has also allowed
me to appreciate the art of putting together a playlist. It's tricky.
Originally, I instigated this "Best of . . . " on a whim, thinking
that I should give the iTunes CD burner a virgin run. iTunes is a breeze,
but determining the sequence of songs takes time . . . a long second-guessing
process. I'll try to explain my decisions below.
The list title was stolen from
some second graders at my school who published a collection of poems ("Our
Poems, Not Yours"). Finally, sincere thanks to Amanda and Erin who
are, in part, responsible for this list. Like the weaving of the old and
new within the list, these friends have remained standing over the years.
An amazing gift in itself.
MMMBop (Hex Mix)
I imagine cocaine to be somewhat like this version. It's so addictive
and the first sounds are like flashes of light. In those flashes appear
cats walking into and/or out of a Hanson's outstretched arms, green screens,
goofy Zac grins, someone talking about riding bikes, a flag being planted
into a prop rock . . . yes, it's TT&MON, "The Making of the MMMBop
video." And every cloud opening you've ever witnessed that pours
down glimmering sheets of sunshine--too bad the song is really kind of
tragic. ::wink wink::
This song just begs a person to somehow wedge the word "gleeful"
into a sentence. And yet, the irony is that the lyrics are better described
as "plaintive." There's something wheezy and irresistible about
a harmonica. Allow me to clarify, have you ever seen "If Only"
performed live? I never realized that anybody who played a harmonica also
possessed the potential to weaken the knees. On a personal note, "If
Only" can sound so breezy with a tang of woeful, but applied to real
life, it has the potential to scare the crap out of you.
This list is not in descending order. The least of "Boomerang"'s
charm cannot be confined to the choreography in the home movie of their
surfer haircut mall appearance. But of course, the "girls in all
shapes and sizes . . . " segue can't be the total sum of its pricelessness
either. I loathe the bubblegum label that sticks to Hanson's early work,
but if anything I would forgive its association with this tune.
I couldn't resist the connection between "Boomerang"'s green
light and the traffic images found in this Jimi Hendrix cover. Zac's muscular
drumming all but steals the notes right from under this energetic song.
I Don't Know
By far, this is my favorite Isaac lead . . . "I wish you didn't
feel so good to hold, because then it wouldn't be so hard to know."
Ouch! This song has the ability to choke me up.
Sure About It
The juxtaposition between "I Don't Know" and this ironically
titled song may appear to be too much uncertainty all at once. But, oddly,
I find solace in ambiguity. Plus, the heartbeat rhythm in the opening
lines and throughout somehow enter my own blood stream in a way that's
hard to explain.
In this list that is fast becoming a quilt, "rain splashing
up between her toes" in the previous track became the organizing
strand that leads to this early Hanson song. A cappella . . . no explanation
needed. I treasure this gem like a rock from an early collection that
I started on a family vacation to the Rockies back in the third grade.
In many ways, I consider "MMMBop" like a first date. It
continues to preserve the exact intensity of emotions of my initial listen.
How is this possible? Dare I say, it's a secret no one knows? I wish that
didn't sound as hackneyed as it inevitably does.
Thinking of You (Dust Brothers
Congas and other cool percussive sounds jack the value of this version
way, way up! This track originally almost kept me from purchasing "Middle
of Nowhere" altogether. But now this first song on the album has
meteored, or should I say "soared," up to the Top 20 as you
can clearly see.
Thinking of You (Live @
Thank you Hanson for sanctioning mp3s for live music! Finally Christopher
Sabec's devotion to The Grateful Dead has paid dividends not reserved
exclusively to random, undisclosed (until the very last minute) appearances
with The Other Ones. The essence of Taylor's numbing gift for stage presence
emerges in one sung word, "who-o-o-o-ole," as in "time."
You can't read this word, you can only experience it!! Not to mention,
BAM BAM BAM!
Weird (Movo Mix)
Zac's haunting, "wooooo" descends like a damp, cool fog
so salient you shiver. Beautiful support and harmony. Love this version!
Piece of My Heart
Janis Joplin's song will forever remain a girl song in my mind. But
that having been said, Hanson tackling this cover is only that much more
endearing. As addictive as the cause of Joplin's untimely demise . . .
Absence makes the heart grow fonder . . . incongruous with the theme
of this song, the only reason this track is on the list is that I rarely
get a chance to hear it because of it's B-side status. I also thought
its bitterness complemented "Piece of My Heart" somehow. Don't
the opening chords always startle you, just a little bit? They almost
cancel out the slight irritation caused by the grinding repetition of
the "good-byes" at the end.
A Song to Sing
The lyrics of this song seem like the thinking person's response to
the loss experienced in both the previous song choices. From a wordsmith's
point of view, "A Song to Sing" tastes and smells a lot like
Isn't this the bio we all wrote for ourselves? After the brooding of the
previous tracks, I thought it was time for a dose of Hanson's brand of
peace and love--the kind they're constantly wishing in salutations to
fans. And once again, the harmonica is a factor . . . and this time, add
Runaway Run (Live @ the
Honestly, "Runaway Run" is not one of my favorite songs
. . . even before Taylor explained that it was the evolution of three
different songs, I've always found it kind of jagged and somewhat "Dungeons
and Dragons" meets Danielle Steele. However, in this concert capture,
afterward Isaac utters the most hilarious line as a segue to the following
song . . . His remark is certainly worth the four minutes it takes to
stumble upon this moment of pure Isaac, earnestly transforming the obvious
into the absurd. "We're going to break it down just slightly,
but not all that much."
Wish That I Was There
This song zooms into view . . . it always feels like a fuzzy, faraway
picture of Zac that suddenly swings into full screen of sturdy, broad,
licensed driver Zac. Whoa! Every time I hear this piece, I'm incredulous
that Zac ever agreed to sing such a sentimental song. I'm not sure why,
but the songwriter Zac that I envision writes and sings songs like "We
All Know." Not that I'm complaining. Thank you, Zac.
What Christmas Means to
Don't get me wrong, the entire Christmas album is on my "Best
of . . ." but if I had to pick a representative, I'd have to choose
this Stevie Wonder cover. The energy found here could power a string of
lights year round.
I Want You to Want Me
Taylor usually has nothing to show for his raw palms and fingers on
the congas as his beats are mostly shut out of the audio of all the live
performance recordings of "MMMBop" I've heard. However, this
raw Cheap Trick cover provides the forum for Taylor to reveal his gift
for keeping the beat.
Also, Zac seems to have an
instinct for identifying the most unrefined impulses in others and using
these to his advantage (i.e. His favorite Twister partner? Shamu . . .
His girlfriend? His motorbike, Betsy, etc.). In this way, this song embodies
the collective desires of a crush and Zac cleverly coaches his audience
to vocalize these feelings. Finally, Isaac implicates himself in Zac's
game by continuing to sing during the audience participation, until Zac
must blurt out, "Just you" (meaning the ticket holders only).
Another classic Isaac moment!
MMMBop (Acoustic, circa
A guitar, some shakers and a tambourine. The essence of Hanson. The
evolution of their music . . . you notice the adjusted lower sound and
the slight rhythmic edits from the album version. Not only that, there's
a note, instigated by Isaac that seems to almost involuntarily commit
his brothers to the chorus. It's as if, whenever that note is sounded,
all three can and must immediately break into the "MMMBop" harmony.
I've enjoyed this tour of my
current favorites. Thank you for joining me. I hope you've enjoyed yourselves.
I'd loved to hear your reactions to these choices.
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