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The Song That Changed Your Life

Morrissey by David Burga

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

Video source: Youtube.

“Burga!” The sergeant was screaming.

I bolted up out of my cot, ran out of the tent and stood at attention. The sergeant stared hard at me, twisting his red, handlebar mustache between his fingers. 

“What’s the leave request for, again?”

“I need to go home to Toronto for an interview for my university admission.”

It was a lie. I was desperate to see Morrissey in concert.  I felt sick to my stomach as the sergeant paced around me, certain I’d be sent to the brig or wherever else they tossed dishonest recruits. 

He didn’t sound like he believed me. “Here’s your pass. Be back on Sunday night. The bus leaves in ten minutes.”

It was the end of my first week at boot camp. Other recruits had cracked under the pressure and left. I wanted to quit. Payphones were choked all night with teens, away for the first time, crying to mom and dad. Curfew was always called before I could make my call. I hadn’t spoken to my parents since arriving in Petawawa. I’d crawl into bed, pull my sleeping bag over my head and hope no one heard me cry.

I wanted to major in English in university but my father wouldn’t pay my tuition unless I took Engineering, like him, so I joined the Reserves to pay my own way. It was my one act of rebellion and it seemed I couldn’t even get that right. My parents didn’t know I was coming home for the weekend.

I made it to the concert at the Kingswood Music Theatre in Canada’s Wonderland. It was Morrissey’s first solo appearance in Canada. It felt great to be back, to be amongst people who wanted to hear the same music as me. Three songs in he played Piccidally Palare. The version I knew closed with these words: 

“It may all end tomorrow or it could go on forever, in which case I’m doomed.”

But Morrissey, known for modifying lyrics at live performances, changed it:

“No dad, no dad, I won’t be home tomorrow.”

Just like that, Morrisey tuned out everyone but me, like he had so many times before, telling me now that everything would be okay. And it was.

David Burga is from Mississauga ON.

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