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The Song That Changed Your Life

Freedom and Bruce Springsteen by Terri Favro

This story is on the shortlist for The Song That Changed Your Life challenge. 

Video source: Youtube.

That September was stinking hot. My parents had just driven me along the Queen Elizabeth Way to the big city of Hamilton, Ontario. 

They were not happy. And I wanted them to go home. 

I was the youngest of a string of siblings who all went away to university. My parents, Italian immigrants, had graduated from high school during the Depression. Although good students, post-secondary education was out of the question for them. Their goal was to make sure their kids got one. 

It wasn’t easy. We were all born about four years apart so my folks had at least one, sometimes two, university students living away from home for almost twenty years straight. Gratifying, but costly.

By the time it was my turn, I was exploding with a desire to get away to university, not just for the academics but the freedom. In the smoggy heat and crush of students, my father tried to exude an air of being an old hand at this leaving-your-kid-at-residence stuff. My mother was weepy and lost looking. 

I wasn’t paying attention to either parent. I just wanted them to unload the car and vanish. 

My room was on the top floor with with huge windows that opened onto a quadrangle facing an all-male residence. The boys had dragged couches into the quad and stuck a pair of speakers out of a window. The sound reverberating in the canyon-like quad had the acoustic power of an arena concert. 

The speakers were blasting a new wall-of-sound anthem about freedom, love and escape that I was hearing for the first time. The screaming sax solo made me want to dance. It was having the same effect on the crowd, especially when the singer cried out: Just wrap your legs around these velvet rims and strap your hands cross my engines.

 “Could you please leave now?” I begged my parents. 

Not exactly the sentiment you want to hear from your youngest daughter. My sisters had lived in strict Catholic residences where even my father was not allowed into the rooms: what they were seeing now was something new to them.

New for me too. The song was Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run. To this day, when I need to energize, take a risk or get my courage up, I play that song, full throttle, and dance. It’s still my personal anthem.

Terri Favro is from Toronto, ON.

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