Seventh grade was the year of music. I feel like I finally started paying more attention to the radio and what was playing. I’d been around music before, certainly. But the radio was just a tool for offering songs. Songs were enjoyable but not identity-defining. No compulsion to memorize lyrics. I could just passively enjoy it.
My earliest memories of music involve listening to the record player. My parents had plenty of albums by The Beatles. We’d play those or other records (I believe there was a Sesame Street one in our possession, too) and I’d dance with Dad. I think the first attempts at dancing meant my feet placed on top of his. But music was fun; there were no expectations.
Before public school or being this particular age, I listened to music more out of enjoyment. There was no need to know the names of bands and song titles or lyrics. I liked the song and that was enough. But now? Now there seemed to be more emphasis on joining in with the shared knowledge. If you can’t reference a song or band, you can’t join in the conversations. You can’t discuss things. You need to know what people are referencing.
Now I was spending lots of money buying blank cassettes at the Dollar General near my house and spending hours listening to the radio and recording on the tapes, taking diligent notes of what I was recording. The New Years Eve countdown was more about listening to the top songs of the year and recording a copy for myself than actually enjoying the year in review.
New friends meant being introduced to new music. I began listening to country more as well as top 40 radio.
The biggest surprise of the year was the debut of “MMMBop.” Yes, the end of seventh grade meant the arrival of Hanson on the music scene. And man, did I love their sound. It was a band of three young brothers with a lead singer my age. What’s not to like about that? They wrote their own music, played instruments and sang.
You could call me obsessed about the band. I was. Some friends and I grew to really like their music and got involved in the whole fan fiction side of things. No story was really worth the light of day, but it kept us entertained. We were shaping characters after the members of Hanson, later Backstreet Boys and NSync, but it also meant coming up with different scenarios and problems and just plain exercising our abilities to craft fiction. Writing was a good outlet, and it was a nice way of bonding together. Some friends call each other up to talk about what they’re going to wear to school the next day. We discussed potential plot ideas.
Over the years, I’ve come to deepen my respect for Hanson. They were faced with social backlash where it became unpopular and people faced ridicule for liking their music. They didn’t give up. Their label started causing problems for them. They didn’t give up. In fact they launched their own label. Their music didn’t receive much radio play. They didn’t give up. They’ve maintained a loyal following through their own website, fan club and social media.
And that’s a great lesson in itself of not letting obstacles defeat you. As I’ve learned and reflected on my experiences with sensory processing disorder, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been doing just that: overcoming many different obstacles. Of course a lot of it was unknown to me at the time, but that doesn’t diminish the victories.
May 2017 marks 20 years since “MMMBop”, and Hanson came out with a new song “I Was Born.” This new song is full of hope and wonder, and about how there is so much possibility out there. And how we all have the potential to be trailblazers in our own way. So if you haven’t listened to it yet, check it out. Below is the official video which adds another dimension by featuring 11 of the band’s 12 children.