The Song That Changed Your Life
IS THIS SHOWING UP
Cashing In by Richard Borek
This story is on the shortlist for The Song That Changed Your Life challenge.
Video source: Youtube.
When I was in my twenties, I leafed through a family album, one of the few things which wasn’t destroyed by the fire of our first house. “House” is a stretch; what the picture showed was more a squat shack. What shocked me most was that I had grown up on our farm in poverty, and was never aware of deprivation, in a fog of gleeful memory.
Then I recalled all the additions my father made, luxuries: from electricity to added bedrooms to even an indoor bathroom. And the items of extravagance my father bought with that slow prosperity: when I turned six, a radio (we would not have a television for some few years yet)!
So I recall laying one day in my parents’ room (I was ill and home from school), and my mother permitted me to listen to the radio . . . on my own! I could roll the dial from end-to-end, selecting the music which I preferred while she bustled in the kitchen (don’t all memories of mothers see them in the kitchen?).
Now, I had not been exposed to music much, just a few folk songs my Polish parents sang to us, trying to instill us a pride of heritage. So the sounds which came out of the box were strange noises, some wondrous, some discordant to my naive ear. Mostly, I liked the catchy tunes, simple and unsophisticated and perhaps somewhat melodramatic. ‘Top ten’, the ‘charts’, ‘rock and roll’ were still as distant to me as a landing on the moon, almost ten years in the future.
Then I heard my first recognizable song, and in a distinct voice, a dark-toned intimation of some depths of human pain which, though I didn’t understand, I could feel, at a level submerged and inexpressible. Okay, Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’ spoke of some sorrow beyond my years, but to this kid it spoke of something beyond the words: it suggested discovery of a world past the farm fields, outside our village, of cities and people and life yet to be found, a potential of living which, though I had no inkling of what, was out there, somewhere, if just I waited and wandered beyond the security of childhood. I was not afraid of ‘growing up’ anymore, though I did not know what that meant.
And though it might be pain, it would be life.
Richard Borek lives in Omemee, ON.