Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Another Christmas Song

Yeah, it’s way to early in the morning.

About an hour ago, I woke up lying in bed. A phrase drifted through my head and somehow attached itself to a melody.

Then another line.

I knew, as I had done many times before, that I had to get up and write it down, or I’d lose it forever.

And I had been wanting to write this song for a long time, but it hadn’t sparked yet.

So, here it is:

Another Christmas With You
Words and music by Mark Hansen
For Jodi
12/24/2002 5:38 AM

We spent too much money again this Christmas
But I don’t seem to care right now
Because I know tomorrow morning will one for the boys
The room will be filled with laughs and the noise
As we are all playing with all our new toys
And my memory will be filled with the fun and the joys
We spent too much money again this Christmas
But I don’t seem to care

We were way too busy again this Christmas
But I don’t seem to care right now
It seemed there was always a good friend in need
An ox in a mire that had to be freed
A sick one whose pains and whose eyes would plead
And I saw you give like the Christ child indeed
We were way too busy again this Christmas
But I don’t seem to care

Because you’re here sleeping next to me
And our children are here with us too
And I’ve got the best present under the tree
That’s to spend another Christmas with you
I get to spend another Christmas with you

We gave a lot of ourselves this Christmas
You really showed how much you care
The smiles and the sweetness that you give to me
Are all that I need to know you love me
You’ve showed me what heaven wants us to be
And the best thing of all is that His love is free
We gave a lot of ourselves this Christmas
You really showed how much you care

Because you’re here sleeping next to me
And our children are here with us too
And I’ve got the best present under the tree
That’s to spend another Christmas with you
I get to spend another Christmas with you

Mark Hansen

Monday, December 23, 2002

My Boys’ Gramma

My boys’ gramma is in the hospital today.

I call her that mainly out of respect for the wonderful bond she’s built with them. Technically speaking, she’s my step-mother-in-law.

Ever unable to have any children of her own, she contented herself over the years with spoiling the grandchildren that her husband’s kids had brought her. She married into the family a few years before I joined it, so I’ve always known her as “Gramma Bev”. She and my father-in-law also spent a lot of their retirement years raising foster children for the state.

She’s really dedicated her life to serving others, almost to a fault. In fact, Dad is having quite a difficult time dealing with her being sick and down. He’s been waited on hand and foot for so many years, he’s not sure how to deal with it.

Anyway, today she’s in the hospital having some pretty heavy surgery. The doctors suspect that she has pancreatic cancer. If that’s the case, it’ll be looking pretty grim for her, as I’m told that this kind of cancer spreads rapidly. We were told that after this surgery, she’ll be recovering in the hospital for as much as several weeks. She’s been pretty much down in bed for almost two months, now.

So, while I’ve been sitting here working at my computer, I’ve been glancing my thoughts back to her and praying for her.

I’ve been praying for her recovery, and that might be a selfish thing to do, for myself and my boys, but it’s interesting how “Thy will be done” takes on a new meaning when you have to actually mean it. I want her here, to live and survive, and be a part of the family on earth. But if God wants here there, I have to accept it. He’s not gonna keep her here just because I want it.

Anyway, if anyone reading this is of the mind to take a moment to pray, think of Bev and ask Father to do what’s best for her.

And ask Him to help all the rest of us through whatever that is.

Mark Hansen

Thursday, December 19, 2002

A Loud, Silent Protest

Anyone that lives in Utah, especially in the SLC metro area has heard about the conflict going on over the “Main Street Plaza”. If you’re not in the loop, just go to the Deseret News and do a search and you’ll get plenty of background.

But in a nutshell, a while ago, the church bought a one block part of Main street from the city a year or so ago, and closed it off, building a beautiful park-like plaza there. It connects the church office buildings and the temple.

That’s all well and good, but the problem comes in because the church doesn’t want to allow people to make loud and angry protests on the property. This has become quite the conference week tradition. I can see their point. It’s a very relaxing scene, and it’s not fun to have that all messed by someone shouting and waving signs, especially when you’re trying to take some beautiful wedding pictures and enjoy family after the ceremony in the temple.

Others say that since it used to be public property, for the church to buy it and then restrict its use constitutes violation of the constitution. No free speech, etc…

As the debate has raged with proposals and counterproposals back and forth there has been a lot of noise generated, and frankly most of it has been anti-church.

Now, I know a good deal of the SLC metro population is LDS, and much of the outlying areas, too. But I haven’t heard of or seen much of those that favor the church’s position. Except as I talk one on one with people I meet.


What if the members of the church were to do a bit of demonstrating of their own?

What I propose is not a radical shouting and sign-waving mob, but rather a quiet protest.

What if we, as individual members of the church were to go to the plaza and sit there en masse quietly reading our scriptures. Not picking fights, not making noise, just a big group of people sitting on the benches, reading our scriptures.

What a loud statement of support THAT would be!

So, let’s do it. Let’s spread the word via email, and go and do it. Just sit and read in the shadow of the temple, or by the bright Christmas lights for an hour or two.

Sometimes the quietest protests can be the loudest!

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

A New Song

There are a couple of different ways that the Spirit moves me.

One is where I get this tranquil feeling of peace and contentment. It’s a kind of swelling from inside that tells me that everything’s going to be all right. It often comes to me when I’m troubled or stressed and praying really hard for something.

Another is the kind that fills me with energy. It grabs me and lifts me up by my shirt and shakes me and makes me want to move. It makes me want to jump and do something, accomplish something, make someone happy.

Well, I had that second feeling come over me today, and it came out in a new song.

Well, kind of new. The basis of it is a guitar riff that I came up with literally years ago. I knew that it would be something busy and bouncy, but I never really knew what to set to it. No lyrics ever came for it, as many times as I dusted it off and tried to work it out.

I think that the Lord saw that I needed a boost in my music somewhere. He might have looked down at me and said, “This poor boy’s mopin’ way too much. He needs a little jolt!”

So, I’m sitting there playing the guitar riff good and loud, and a melody comes to my head. Then suddenly it’s words, too. And they’re nothing deep or profound or laden with subtle and clever imagery. Just simple, and clear. Just as they poured into me.

I love it when I can get songs like that.

Here it is:

Here in Me
Words and music by Mark Hansen
12/17/2002 12:51 PM

What is this fire I feel
It’s light is bright and real
Here in me

Darkness is scattering
No longer mattering
Here in me

Here in me is soul brand new
Turned inside out by the Love of you
Here in me is a heart that’s burning bright
Here in me

What is my life to be
What will become of me
I can’t see

I know that if I fight
Reaching up to the light
I can see
What’s ahead of me


What good would it do locked up inside me
What good would I do to hide it there
My empty cup is filled to overflowing
And it’s spilling Spirit out into the air
And its here in me

Mark Hansen

Monday, December 16, 2002

Modesty Part II

I was out checking out some blogs this morning. I found one, very interesting, in light of an earlier blog posting of mine.

The blogger was an inactive lady who had, in her own words, long since given up her testimony, but wanted some good friends and associates for her daughter.

“…So I took the kids to Church. Bad idea. Apparently I am not keeping my temple holy, as I have a third piercing in my ear. The kids were taught that Jesus Christ is not happy when we get tattoos, when girls get pierced more than once and only at the bottom of their ear lobe, and when boys get their ears pierced at all. Sierra says that they told her it's all in the bible. Yep, the Book of No Tattoos. I believe it's mentioned also in The Book of Mormon under the Yer Goin Ta Outer Darkness Fer That Earring section.

“Saddle up! War, famine and pestilence! Mama got a third earring!”

Now, I got no gripes with the prophet when he sets out standards. I’ve seen the way kids act. They want to know exactly where the line is drawn and how close they can get to it before they need to repent.

I guess we adults are kinda like that too, sometimes, huh?

But anyway, I’m talking about kids.

Actually what I’m talking about is our attitudes. It sounds a little to me like swallowing camels and straining at gnats. I mean, if MY worst sin was a pierced ear (we guys don’t get that much allowance), or a little tattoo, I’d be in pretty good shape.

Now, if the prophet says that she shouldn’t have three earrings, and she decided to get a third one, then that’s between her, the Lord, and the Prophet, right? I certainly don’t have the stewardship, much less the right to be running her out of church.

“JUDGE not, that ye be not judged.

“For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

“Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” –Matt 7:1-5

See, there, in verse two, it tells me about my final judgment. It says that I’ll be judged with the same measure that I give out.

I dunno ‘bout anyone else, but I’m gonna need a pretty big helping of lenience and forgiveness when my time comes, so I don’t have much room to be picky with anyone else.

Mark Hansen

Thursday, December 12, 2002

What is Music? Part II

This one’s not so much a continuation of my other thoughts so much as a different direction, a different way to look at the same question. It’s something that has been on my mind for a very long time, as a musician and a recordist.

What is music is a tough one to do. It’s a tricky definition.

See, I’ve heard many people say, “That rap stuff isn’t music at ALL!” My dad and I used to constantly argue over whether or not rock was music. I never was able to pin him down as to WHY rock got excluded, but I was never able to convince him otherwise, either.

Some claim that rap isn’t music because it’s got no melody. I disagree. I think rap has a very musical melody, but you just can’t notate it. Speech can be very musical, so rap can as well.

Normally, I hate it when writers refer back to the dictionary, and I hate it worse when speakers do it. It’s a sure thing that it’s gonna be dull. But this time, it really sets up what I’m thinking about.

There’s a whole bunch of different definitions in this dictionary, but there are two thoughts that I really liked:

One said, “The art of arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre.”

And the other said, “An aesthetically pleasing or harmonious sound or combination of sounds: the music of the wind in the pines.”

I really like the words “The art of arranging sounds in time.” I think that’s the best possible definition.

Music IS art, as any creative endeavor. And the palette is sound and the canvas is time.

What kinds of sounds qualify for the palette? Well, that’s where the debate starts. For some, that means beautiful choral voices and violins. For others that means pounding drums and crashing cymbals. For others that means shouting, and for others it means loud distorted guitars. What classifies as a “musical” sound changes over time.

There are many for whom the sounds around us, such as my keys clacking rhythmically as I type, can be music. This is musica concrete, the style of taking samples and recordings of “real world” sounds and arranging them in time as a musical work. The wind in the pines, as mentioned above

Or the tree falling in the woods…

I find the whole endeavor very exciting to explore. And while I don’t enjoy all of the results of everyone else’s explorations (as I’m sure they don’t all enjoy mine), I’ll grant them the benefit of still calling it music.

After all, in Psalm 66, it says to make “a joyful noise”. It doesn’t say anything about music…

Mark Hansen

Monday, December 09, 2002

What is Music? Part I

“If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound”

A long time ago, a musician friend of mine reopened in my mind this age-old debate.

For years, the scientist in me said, “The tree crashes to the ground, and the impact creates sound waves. The fact that there’s no one there to listen, doesn’t change the fact that the waves are there. Duh…”

And that simple fact made me think that the whole line of questioning was just pretty silly.

Then this friend of mine pointed out something that changed my mind. “Yeah, but is that ‘sound’? When the waves are created, they’re really just fluctuations in air pressure traveling through the atmosphere. It’s not until it hits someone’s ear and gets interpreted into something the brain can use that it becomes a sound.”

That hit me and spun me around. Because…

It introduced to me the concept of the audience. It made me rephrase the question to this: “If a singer sings in the woods, and there’s no one there to hear it, is it music?”

Or, if I write a song, and sing out my soul, but there’s no one listening, what’s the point?

Now, this one’s not as clear-cut as the first version of the question. Because, in this variation, there IS a built-in audience, and that’s the singer his/herself. I have written many songs over the years that are not intended for a larger audience. Not intended for anyone but me. I’ve also written lots of songs that I want to get to a large audience.

The point is, I guess that they both have value.

I think of two scriptures, both in the D&C:

First, in section 18, verse 15 – “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!”

And the other is in Section 4, verse 4: “For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;”

So, what if I labor all my days, singing the songs that the Lord has inspired, and the only person that it helps is me? Hasn’t it still been worthwhile?

But then, back in Section 18: “And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!”

I wrote a song about that one, about how I want to help the world, but if I end up only helping myself, that’s still OK with me.

Waking the Dead
Words and music by Mark Hansen
9/4/2002 10:41 PM

The cloth is tight around me
My eyes can only stare
Coldness hugs my lifeless limbs
Heavy spices fill the air
I feel only emptiness
A loss I can’t even mourn
And then I hear His blessed voice
Call to me “Come forth!”

Life swells up inside me
And I stumble into the light
I feel His warmth run through my veins
Filling me with right
And I don’t understand why
It was me He chose to serve
Filling me with happiness
That I really don’t deserve

The music that’s inside my heart
Leaps into my throat
I want to sing it out to you
I’m ready to explode

I want to sing a song to wake the dead
A song to make the lame take up their beds
I want to sing so that the blind can see
Even if the blind one is me
Even if the dead one is me

My sins are like the open sores
That boil up on my skin
The righteous throw their stones at me
And shout “Outcast! Unclean!”
But one man comes and takes my hand
And brings me to the fold
He heals the sickness in my heart
And cleans my cankered soul



I was lost but now am found
Was blind but now I see
I wish to give to everyone
The sight He gave to me

Mark Hansen

Friday, December 06, 2002

Handicap or Handy?

As I was driving around WalMart the other night, I got to thinking about the ethics of handicap parking.

There’s an interesting moral question here. My son has cerebral palsy, and has to be transported in a wheelchair, complete with van and ramps. Now, sometimes, my wife or I will be driving that particular van and he won’t be in it. Are we allowed to park in handicapped spaces when the handicapped individual isn’t in the car?

Now there are some circumstances that are obvious to me. If he’s with us, but I drop them off at the door, I don’t have any troubles parking in a wheelchair spot, because I know we’ll probably have to wheel him out to the car when we’re done.

But if he’s not even there. If he’s with a babysitter or somewhere else.

On the one hand, the opportunist in me says, “Look. Raising a child with CP is no picnic. He’s sweet and lovable and fun, but it ain’t an easy life. If I get to spare myself a few feet of walking, then that’s just one of the few tiny little perks that comes with the struggle.” And that has a certain “ring of rightness” to it.

On the other hand, the generous voice in my head says, “Yeah, but If you park there, then when someone that needs it, like someone with a handicap and is actually there in the car, they’ll have to park farther away.”

And my other side says, “Hey, I got enough of a tough time without you adding more to it!”

“Bla, bla, bla, I never promised you a rose garden…”

“Ya, come over here and say that, you wusss…”

Um… Guys… I’m trying to blog here…

But they both have some valid points.

And there is a third consideration as well, and as it adds to the conversation in my head, it tends to tip the scales. I think that it’s important for people who are both not handicapped, nor have anyone close to them that are to have a certain amount of confidence and respect in the idea of special parking and other services for those that need them.

So, what would they be saying to themselves if they see someone drive a van up to a wheelchair spot, and then watch an obviously healthy man (albeit portly) get out of the car and stride into the store? Hasn’t that diminished their confidence in the system? Hasn’t that removed his respect for those that do need it?

So, with all those, and many other (mostly irrelevant) thoughts going through my head, I tend to park elsewhere when I’m driving the van alone.

At least I get to win one argument in my head…

Mark Hansen

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Singing Christmas

I have a dilemma.

I have to chose a Christmas song to sing for my ward Christmas party in a week and a half.

Now, I’ve written two, but they don’t want rock and roll, so that leaves those out. I don’t have any commercial minus tracks, and I don’t really have time to produce any.

But I might be able to borrow one or to get someone to accompany me.

So, the question is… What is my favorite Christmas song?

Well, when I think of Christmas music, at our house growing up, it was Handel’s Messiah. I ain’t even gonna attempt that one.

I’m not into the saccharine schmaltz that you hear on FM 100 (“Continuous Soft Hits and other musical sleeping pills”), and I think I prefer the religious songs to the “Santa Claus is Comin’ to town” tunes.

One of my all-time favorites has always been “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, because it’s all about affirming that even though the world is a violent and ugly place, It’s still worth saving, and that’s why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep”.

Another one I like is the famous “Angels We Have Heard on High”. I just love singing the polyphony in the chorus. It’s also the only hymn in our book that has Latin in it. Somehow that snuck by the brethren…

Speaking of polyphony, “Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains” is another one. Same sentiment in the chorus, but in a language we can all understand. This one’s got a beat, too. It’s one of those tunes that rouses you up on a Sunday morning.

But then, there are the beautiful Christmas hymns, like “Silent Night”. I love this one. It took me a long time to understand the line about “Round yon virgin” because of the old poetic phrasing. If you read it like prose, it makes perfect sense. “All is calm, all is bright round yon virgin mother, and child.” But the musical phrasing breaks it up.

This song is so beautiful musically, that even when the singers scoop the “Sleep in heavenly pe-e-e-e-ace”, it’s still ok. I like it better when they don’t but… still…

So, what’m I gonna do?


Decisions, decisions…

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Border Crossing

A couple of my good internet friends came into town last night, and I was quite sad that I wasn’t able to see them.

Steve and Brad a few years ago formed an acoustic duo named “Border Crossing”. They chose that name because they lived in two towns just across the Idaho/Oregon border from each other. Barely ten or fifteen minutes away, but still in a whole other state. Since they had to keep crossing the border to rehearse, the name came to them.

Anyway, they’re a part of the newest wave of LDS musicians who are not “LDS musicians”. In other words, they’re very devout in their religion, but they don’t beat you over the head with it in their songs.

I first met Brad in the late summer of ’99 when, as a lonely LDS musician in northern Idaho, he created an email group, looking for others. What he found were that there were lots of them, and the list and the camaraderie grew.

I was actually one of the first to join up, so I’ve been there over the years. If you’re also an LDS musician or know one, go to the group website and check it out. Join up, contribute, you know…

These guys have been kinda quietly working on a studio CD for quite a while, now, and I’m very excited to hear it. About a year ago, they recorded one of their gigs and put out a limited edition live CD, cleverly titled “Border Crossing Live”, and it has quickly become one of my favorites.

They’ve got some mp3’s on their site from the CD.

I think my all-time favorite song of theirs is one called “The Other Way Around”. It talks about testimony and belief and shows that, for some people, “Seeing is believing” and for others it’s “the other way around”. It’s a gorgeous song, just a single guitar with vocals.

Anyway, they were playing in Provo last night, and I had to work. So, I hope they come back soon so I can hear them again!

Mark Hansen

Monday, December 02, 2002


I have got some serious repenting to do.

That was shown to me very strongly this last weekend.

So, I’d like to get that started by confessing. What was this terrible sin I’ve committed?


“And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.” -D&C 59: 21
And that tells me that, as sins go, ingratitude ranks pretty high up there.

I’ve been moping about with a “woe is me” kind of attitude for several weeks, now. It started with the technology troubles I’ve been having, and spread to my home, frustrations with my music, etc…

Then I started looking around and realized that as annoying as my niggling little petty problems were, there were others with worse ones. Family members facing their own mortality dealing with blood clots and cancers. Friends with children in the hospital. People living on the streets.

Suddenly my problems seemed pretty small.

And I think that’s the biggest reason why ingratitude is such a big sin. It completely turns you inward. It’s a moping for things you want but don’t have, to the exclusion of what you do have. And especially, to the exclusion of what you can give to others.

So, on Thanksgiving day, I was feeling very guilty. And not JUST for overeating.

A while ago, I wrote a song, inspired by one of Pres Hinkley’s “Six B’s”. I’ll include the lyrics here. The recording isn’t finished yet, but I’m hoping it will be soon.

Thank You
By Mark Hansen
10/23/01 1:09 PM

Thank you for the wind and the rain
Thank you for the love and the pain
Thank you for life again and again
Thank you, thank you

Thank you for the laughter in my ears
Thank you when a song brings me tears
Thank you for bringing me these years
Thank you, thank you

Thank you for the smell of fresh baked bread
Thank you for the pillows under head
Thank you for the sweet words that she said
Thank you, thank you

Thank you for my sons, my joy, my prize
Thank you for the giggles in their eyes
Thank you for the futures in their skies
Thank you, thank you

Thank you, thank you for the breath I owe to you
I’ll always owe you more, no matter what I do
I only hope that somehow I’ll come close to what is due

Thank you for my heart soul and mind
Thank you for the answers that I find
Thank you for your sacrifice so kind
Thank you, thank you

Thank you for the wind and the rain
Thank you for the love and the pain
Thank you for life again and again
Thank you, thank you

Mark Hansen


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