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The Song That Changed Your Life

She Whispered by Lyle Burwell

This story won for The Song That Changed Your Life challenge. 

Video source: Youtube.

Aunt Maureen came to stay with us for the summer. Dad bunked our twin beds and my brother and I shared our bedroom with her. She was 14; we were six and seven. She brought her own radio and her own record player. The record player made sense because she had records and we didn’t. But I didn’t understand why she brought the radio: we already had one of those.

I asked her about this when she set the boxy white Philco on the night table between our beds. She said her radio was magic. She said it in a whisper, letting me know it was a secret.

“Tonight,” she said, “my radio will play music you’ve never heard before,” and then she winked.

A secret and a wink. I couldn’t contain my excitement.

“Play it now,” I begged. 

Maureen told me the radio was just a regular radio in the daytime and we would have to wait till it was dark. I was disappointed, but I knew it was the way of the world. Thanks to my brother, I already knew that grown-ups didn’t watch cartoons on TV like we did because they watched their own cartoons, ones that were too funny for kids, every night at midnight. Santa Claus, trick or treating, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny: magic always happened at night. 

By the time Maureen came to bed my brother was asleep. But I was awake, waiting. She turned the radio on, the volume so low I couldn’t hear more than a buzz, and fiddled with one of the dials, her ear against the speaker. Finally she was ready. She looked over at me and I thought she was going to say something, but she didn’t. She just wanted to see the look on my face when I heard it. She turned up the volume loud enough for me to hear a man say the name of the singer and the song.

“Little Richard with Jenny, Jenny.”

The singer made me laugh. Not because he sounded funny; because he was so full of joy. The song made me want to dance and jump and spin. It made me want to get out of bed and wake everybody. 

When the song was over Maureen turned the volume down.

I was filled with wonder. I whispered, “What is it?”

She whispered, “Rock and roll.”

Lyle Burwell is from Gloucester, ON.


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