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The Song That Changed Your Life: Picks

Kitchen Serenade by Lawrence Larouche

At the age of twenty-one Eva came to Canada from Austria to find and marry Elvis Presley. Unfortunately she took a wrong turn and ended up sharing an apartment with my mother who had finally decided to settle down and focus on raising her son. It was 1968, I was eight years old and my mother had just retrieved me from a foster home in Knowlton, Quebec. I was happy to be together again in Montreal.

Eva greeted us as we stepped through the apartment door. She was a pretty woman but I discovered that Eva was definitely the more strict of the two, having brought with her the etiquette and discipline of the old country. This rigid disposition was tempered by her love of art, music and cooking.

To my delight, her cooking included a wide variety of strudels, cakes and cookies. When she baked, she listened to classical music and being her helper, I too would have to listen to these illustrious compositions. It was my first experience with classical music and I remember being captivated by various movements of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.  Some segments I felt did not last long enough, and with hands covered in flaky dough, I would repeatedly lift the needle off the record and bring it down again over my favorite sections. This must have been excruciating for Eva. I can only assume that she tolerated this disruption because she was pleased that I cared enough about the music to listen at all. 

Each batch of cookies came with a different selection of music such as The Four SeasonsPeer Gynt, and one of Eva’s favorites, The Blue Danube. I remember running home after seeing the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and proudly announcing that The Blue Danube was used in the soundtrack. Eva was delighted that I recognized the music and rewarded my perceptiveness with a slice of chocolate cake. It was this experience that inspired my appreciation for movie soundtracks, which I still continue to collect.

 Ever since those days in Eva’s kitchen I have always needed music as a catalyst for my creative spirit. Whenever I hear Swan Lake or The Blue Danube I am transported back into her kitchen waiting for the apple strudel to come out of the oven. I realize with a smile,  Elvis’s loss was my gain.

Lawrence Larouche lives in St-Eugene, ON. 

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