Seeing the Light Later in Life: Hans Hanson Takes Up Bass. You Should Too!

My favorite line in The Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias”—written  by Robert Hunter—says, “Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”  I thought of this lyric when I was recently introduced by a trusted colleague to Hans Hanson, a college advisor with a unique approach.    

The plan was to get to know Hans professionally.  No doubt he is impressive for his college guidance, his workshops and his books (he is the author of two books- “Dissecting the Big Business of College: 10 Strategies for Saving College Costs” and “The Inside Secrets to Playing College Sports: What Every Mom & Dad Must Know.”).  But before we talked shop, I commented on the rock poster behind him, visible from my computer during our Zoom meeting.   Within seconds, I learned that Hans is a musician.  He JUST learned to play the bass!

Hans recounts the story. 

-I was sitting in the dentist chair having my teeth cleaned. The dental hygienist asked me if there's anything I've missed doing in my life that I would have liked to do.

-I said- Well, when I come back in my next life, I'm coming back as a bass guitarist!

-She paused and said- Hmmm, Hans, you might not want to wait until then!

-And that hit me…I bought my first bass within one month and did my first show within a year!!!


Yes, I learned all bout Hans’ impressive professional work.  But, given how much we music fans are missing music and searching for a good music story, I interviewed Hans about…music!


Did you take lessons? 

Yes, I began lessons on September 1 at the Fairfield School of Rock.


How did you find bandmates? 

The school paired me up with other adults in the school. I just happened to be the rogue-rookie, ha! Live performance is the ultimate goal of someone enrolling in the school. My challenge was they did that after just 6 weeks of lessons. I wasn't ready, but I worked hard to get ready over the following weeks.


You said you are playing The Band?  (the famous “band” featuring Rick Danko  on bass guitar,  Garth Hudson  on keyboards, accordion, saxophone), Richard Manuel on  keyboards, drums, vocals), Robbie Robertson on guitar and Levon Helm on drums, mandolin, guitar)

This is the music we're tasked with playing by the school. I had a few other choices but this was my preferred band to learn. This is my favorite song of our playlist- You don't know the shape I'm in.


What are some other favorites? 

Our first show featured Eric Clapton during the 1970's. I loved playing- Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, After Midnight, Cocaine, Let it Grow… I also love Fleetwood Mac. The bass lines in some of their songs are just great…so I'm learning a few of theirs- Rhiannon, The Chain. I love The Animals- We Gotta Get Out of This Place, for the bass line!  I seem gravitated to “Americana” music defined as contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues.


Anything else on your list of things to try before “the next life?” 

I'm devoted to helping to make college affordable and accessible to mainstream America; I'm devoted to protecting and preserving our wildlife with intention to expand upon my fishing (catch and release only!).


I think it is an inspiring story.

Thanks, I like you, believe that we need to live and not hide, to continue challenging ourselves, to test our abilities, to expand upon our intelligence, to contribute to society, and to share our spirit in spite of the present hardships.


At the end of our interview, Hanson confided in me that the rock poster which caught my eye, was actually NOT a bass player—it was a painting of a golfer.  I guess I should get my eyes checked. 


We should all take a page out of Hanson’s play book and challenge ourselves to think about what WE want to start doing, regardless of our age or stage of life.  Thanks Hans for helping me to better understand Robert Hunter’s lyric.  Sometimes, we do get shown the light—and get new insights– in the strangest of places!

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