Hanson's “Make It Out Alive.”
There are a ton of songs about or inspired by Dallas, and they say a lot about who we are. So each week in this space, we'll take a closer week at one of these songs — and we'll try to determine what, exactly, they say about this great city of ours. Check out this feature's archives here.
Rarely has there ever been a more divisive song than Hanson's '97 breakthrough smash, “MMMBop.”
The song reached No. 1 in 27 countries and ended the year on The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Spin and VH1's year-end “best of” lists.
Still, time hasn't been so kind to the song. A decade later, Rolling Stone called “MMMBop” the sixth worst song of the '90s. Even worse? AOL Radio called it the 17th worst song ever.
But here's the thing: Though “MMMBop” is the only one of the Hanson brothers' songs that most people even know exists, the group never stopped making music. In the 16 years since that song's release, the trio has released six more albums, including their most recent effort, which was released just last month.
As one might expect, the band's sound has evolved over time. 2010's Shout It Out finds the boys trying their hands at a throwback AM-style sound, complete with Motown-ready bass grooves and a shining horn section. It was actually a fairly well-received album, too. Most critics seemed to agree that, as the brothers have gone from teens to men now in their 30s, their songwriting and musicianship has also grown.
But Hanson almost never got the chance to reach this point, as the brothers somewhat explain in their “Make It Out Alive” track. In fact, had the band not been performing at the House of Blues in Dallas when eldest brother Isaac had his brush with death back in 2003, things could've played out very differently
“The scary part is you're not necessarily in pain,” Isaac told People in a 2007 interview. “I could have silently died.”
While onstage in Dallas that night, Isaac began feeling an irritation in his strumming shoulder. In the spirit of show biz, however, he continued playing through the pain as much as possible. By the time he left the stage, his arm was giant, swollen and purple, prompting him to seek medical attention. Soon, he found himself at Baylor University Medical Center being prepped for emergency surgery.
Unbeknownst to him, Isaac had been suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome, a disorder that occurs when blood vessels or nerves in the space between a person's collarbone and first rib become compressed. In most cases, shoulder pain and finger numbness are the worst symptoms TOS patients face. In this rare case, though, the condition caused blood clots to form — and those clots subsequently traveled into Isaac's lungs.
If not caught that night, yes, he almost certainly would have suffered heart failure.
Fortunately for the Hansons, Baylor University Medical Center is just about the best possible place for somebody suffering from TOS-related conditions to end up. Since 2001, when the condition first started getting recognized, world-renowned vascular specialists such as Dr. Brad Grimsley, who performed Hanson's operation, and Dr. Gregory Pearl, who has operated on a number of Major League Baseball players, have performed hundreds of TOS-related surgeries.
According to the book Sports Medicine & Baseball, 318 thoracic outlet decompression procedures were performed at Baylor between the years 2001 and 2009. Just over a third of those surgeries were performed on what the book categorized as “high-performance athletes.” In most cases, the decompression surgeries involve the removal of the first rib.
But, as Hanson discovered back in 2003, TOS is a condition that affects folks from all walks of life. While athletes do represent the biggest faction of TOS sufferers, the condition's biggest cause is repetitive activity. That explains why nearly all of the pro baseball players diagnosed with TOS are pitchers.
In Hanson's case, guitar-playing was the culprit. According to the Mayo Clinic, pretty much all kinds of repetitive activity can cause the condition, including such activities as “typing on a computer for extended periods, working on an assembly line or repeatedly lifting things above your head, as you would if you were stocking shelves.”
The fact remains, though, that baseball players and professional swimmers are generally the most frequently diagnosed with the condition.
But here's where things get really weird: Of the 10 professional baseball players diagnosed with TOS between 2001 and 2009, five of them have been Texas Rangers. Those players include Kenny Rogers (2001), Hank Blalock (2007), John Rheinecker (2008), Matt Harrison (2009) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2009). None of the remaining five players diagnosed with TOS (Aaron Cook, Kip Wells, Luis Terrero, Jeremy Bonderman, and Noah Lowry) ever played for the Rangers. But Lowry was drafted by the team out of high school in 2009. But he opted, instead, to attend Pepperdine University.
Since 2009, at least seven more major leaguers have been diagnosed with the condition, including Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett and Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes. Of those, however, only relief pitcher Mike Adams spent any time with the Rangers. For the record: It was Dr. Pearl who performed Carpenter, Beckett and Adams' surgeries.
Regardless of whether or not more cases of TOS actually do occur here in Dallas than elsewhere, it's fairly clear that local surgeons are indeed the most advanced and experienced thoracic doctors in the country.
So, in that regard, yeah: Hanson was pretty lucky that his health scare happened when and where it did.