Monday, January 30, 2006

A Little Repentance Never Hurt Anybody...

OK, last week I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, and a song (possibly a pretty cool one, if I can realize what’s in my head) came out of it. It summarized a lot of the feelings I’ve been having over the past six to ten months or so.

But then, the Lord kinda called me to task. He did it in a very nice way. I got this email, and I hope the authors don’t mind me sharing an excerpt of it with you.

“I just feel like I have to say something- my brothers and I are in a band and love to rock out, but we couldn't really find the direction we wanted to take our music until my brother heard about you and we got a cd. Your music has changed my life, and now I can't stop listening to it!”

It really struck me as a cool thing to read, but the real message that I think God wanted me to get wasn’t just this one. I started thinking back over some of the emails that I’ve been getting over that same time that I’ve been moping that I was a tree falling in the forest, and I’ve been realizing that there have been people listening. And they’ve been responding back to me. But I was in this dark kinda place and I wasn’t letting myself see them. It’s like I was being blessed, but not noticing, or being grateful.


Anyway, so I’m feeling much better today!

Mark Hansen

Monday, January 23, 2006

A New Song

So Jake is back up in the hospital, and you can read a bit about that at one of my other blogs. I’ve been facing some other struggles and feeling kinda sorry for myself in other areas. As I look at it, I’m not altogether sure that all the moping is really merited, but the other night as I was on my way up to the hospital, this song came to me.

As I read it, I don’t like to think that I’m really this whiny and emo, but it did feel good to get it out on “paper” and the sound in my head is cool. So, we’ll see…

My Dreams
By Mark Hansen 1/22/2006 12:20 PM

Last night I dreamed two dreams…

I could hear the music playing
And I stepped onto the stage
I was blinded by the spotlight
I couldn’t see beyond the cage

And the words that I was singing
Sounded through the air
Echoed off the ceiling
And fell down on the chairs

And when the song was over
And I listened for the applause
I saw the house lights flicker
Lighting up the empty hall

Is there anybody out there
That is hearing what I say
Is there anybody listening
Listening anyway

I dreamed I saw a distant forest
In its depths there was a tree
Its limbs were growing, stretching, reaching
But there was no one there to see

It could feel the seasons changing
And the trunk and roots grew old
Its leaves flew in the new wind
The limbs too tired to hold

And in the end it tired of fighting
And fell broken to the ground
Since there was no one there to listen
It died without a sound


So why isn’t it enough
To sing it just for me
Why can’t I just sing it out
And let the music set me free


Mark Hansen

Friday, January 20, 2006

Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? -Mark 8:18

I’ve just spent a little time checking out a site called Latter Day Soul, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve been interacting electronically with Shawn, it’s owner and chief proponent, on various internet groups for quite a while. I really admire his commitment to the gospel and his passion for both delivering the good message, and for soul and hip-hop music as his delivery method.

In fact, he recently called me and some others to task for our own more passive response to what’s happening to morality in the media. It really made me think.

But as I was checking out his site, my mind was reflecting on an interesting phenomenon that I’ve experienced as I’ve been working on my music.

In the LDS popular arts, there’s a very strong dichotomy that makes it very difficult to get your work in the eyes and ears of people who might enjoy it. On the one hand, members of the church preach to avoid the evil media of the world, and on the other hand, they reject the media produced by the church members.

The reasons are many. Some say that church art is bad. Syrupy, unreal, preachy. I agree. Some of it is. Much of it is. Even most of it. But just because I have to search a little more to find the stuff I like is, in my opinion, no reason to reject the whole lot.

Some say it is blasphemous. That it’s people making money off the gospel, or that gospel topics shouldn’t be carried in popular art forms. This reasoning frustrates me, because I hear this from people who frequent the worldly popular arts. Is a bad song by an immoral artist somehow less blasphemous? Is a PG-13 movie by Hollywood better than a Mormon PG-13 movie.

But there you have it. In many cases we’re too righteous for the world, and too worldly for the righteous. Will that stop us? I hope not! I’ll keep making music, anyway…

Mark Hansen

Monday, January 09, 2006

Thoughts From the Moral High Ground

Here’s an interesting quote:

"A good artist should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"

I’m not too sure just how I fit on that. I’ve thought about it for many years, even though I’d just recently heard it. But I’ve spent a long time contemplating the concept.

When I first thought I wanted to do LDS rock music, it was back in the early ‘80s. It was right around the time of my mission. For the next many years, I wanted to shake my fist at the Mormons and really rock their world. They were living wrong, and I was gonna show them just how!

In retrospect, it was a pretty typical response to life from a 20-something-er.

Over the years, I’ve decided that there’s some good to be said for making music that comforts the afflicted. Especially if I’m the one that’s afflicted. As I look at my best tunes, time and again, they’re written to teach ME something, to help ME get through a tough time.

Still, I do have a few “afflict the comfortable” tunes in my arsenal. “Millstones”, “Out of the Chapel”, “Dance With the Devil”, and a few others are all about shaking up the calm.

One of my personal all-time favorites, “Long-Haired Weirdo” is a classic example of Mark Afflicting the Comfortable.

But then, again, there’s a few I’ve written that comfort the afflicted as well. My newest one, “How Beautiful” is one of these. Both “Here in Me”, and “He’s Out There” are written that same way. With different approaches, lyrical and musical, you could also consider “The Taker”, and “One United Generation” to comfort the afflicted.

One of the problems I have with so much LDS art, though, is that there’s a strong tendency to avoid both sides of this particular issue and to simply “Comfort the Comfortable”. And while that’s nice and pleasant, it doesn’t make for great art.

Another problem I have with the original quote is that the REAL original quote goes like this: “In all life one should comfort the afflicted, but verily, also, one should afflict the comfortable, and especially when they are comfortably, contentedly, even happily wrong.” It’s attributed to economist John Kenneth Galbraith, Guardian (London, 28 July 1989)

The problem that I have with that is that often in my life I’ve set myself up to crusade against something I perceived as wrong only to find out that I was the one wrong. Perspectives can change, points of view shift. What I thought was true turned out to be a shadow of a real truth.

So, I have to be more cautious now, when I choose my crusades. But, frankly, there are still some things that will get me up on my high horse.

Mark Hansen
What's Your Major?

I'm not usually much into quizzes, but this one struck me:

You scored as Journalism. You are an aspiring journalist, and you should major in journalism! Like me, you are passionate about writing and expressing yourself, and you want the world to understand your beliefs through writing.





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with

Mark Hansen

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Mo' Movie Update II

Since I posted my “ranking” of the current LDS movies back in August, I’ve seen quite a few more. So, I thought I’d update my list. Again, let me make my fond disclaimer that these rankings are based entirely and subjectively on my own reactions to the movies, not on any technical merits or polish, but whether or not I enjoyed it, laughed at it, learned from it, or grew personally as a result of watching it. The comments are only for the ones I’ve added to the list. To read the comments on the other shows, click back to the original post.

1. Brigham City
2. Sons of Provo
3. The Best Two Years
4. Saints and Soldiers
5. New York Doll – a very uplifting movie about a great man’s final exam
6. God’s Army 2 – States of Grace – A great film, very real, but also very very intense.
7. God’s Army
8. The Work and The Glory – American Zion – Much better story and performance than the first one!
9. Mobsters and Mormons – Not much to say about it, but that I liked it!
10. The RM
11. The Singles Ward
12. Charly
13. The Other Side of Heaven
14. Out of Step
15. Baptists At Our Barbecue
16. Pride and Prejudice
17. The Home Teachers
18. Napoleon Dynamite – Meh. Some bits were good, but pretty loosely strung together. Overall… meh…
19. The Work and the Glory
20. The Book of Mormon Movie

As an added bonus, I got the DVD of Johnny Biscuit’s stand-up routine. Man! What a show. I busted my gut lots of times, and I’ve got a lot of gut to bust! It’s where “Latter Day Night Live” wanted to go but never quite got there. Absolutely hilarious!

Agree or disagree with me, it’s all good!

...And I just have to add that I really enjoy following the scene. I honestly wish that there were less backbiting and sniping going on among those that both make these movies and those that wanna be making these movies. I like the shows. I wish the sideshow weren’t so harsh...

Mark Hansen


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