Hanson Walks

by Tim Cain

I know we sometimes all get sick of entertainers telling us how to live.

But I’ve got a friend (who happens to have made a living as an entertainer for 35 years or so) who always says, “Do what you can do. If everyone did that, imagine how much better the world would be.”

I don’t buy into that enough to actually believe it – many times, I’ve told my friend I’m tired of her “(expletive) hippie ideals” – but every once in a while, I want to believe that the world would be considerably better if we all did what we could.

So that’s one of the things I like about the “Idol Gives Back” show on “American Idol.” And it’s one of the things I like about Hanson, who have put their money and their bodies where there mouths are in their efforts toward African poverty relief.

Most of you remember the three brothers from their 1997 hit record “MMMBop.” The more passionate music fans among you will know they’re far from a one-hit wonder. In fact, they’ve hit my top-10 albums list the last two years, once with L.E.O. and last year with their “The Walk” album, which was solidly in at No. 5.

(They also have a sense of humor. In 2004, a Pennsylvania school held a Hurricane Katrina fundraiser in which “MMMBop” was played over the school’s PA system before classes begin in the morning, and between each period. The “torture” would stop when $3,000 was raised. When Hanson heard the story, the brothers matched the donation.)

Funds raised by online purchased downloads of “Great Divide,” the first single off “The Walk,” went to fight AIDS in Africa. And the group has entered an agreement with TOMS shoes whereby TOMS will send a pair of shoes to Africa for every pair purchased by consumers.

Friday afternoon, Hanson will lead a barefoot one-mile walk through the Illinois State University campus, starting at 2 p.m. on the north side of Illinois State University’s quad and ends at Bone Student Center.

According to the group’s press release, “ ‘The Walk’ is an event where people walk for one mile barefoot to publicly demonstrate how many children in the world live without basic things such as shoes.”

Preachy? Not at all. Symbolic? Sure. Life-changing? Maybe not for everyone, but you can only make changes one at a time.