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The Song That Changed Your Life

T-shirt by Taylor Wilson

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

Video source: Youtube.

I remember noticing a new girl in my neighbourhood while she was busy playing Galaga.  In 1983, corner stores were places where kids went to hang out when it was cold.  With a pocketful of change you could drink Dr. Pepper, watch your friends play video games, and breathe in second hand cigarette smoke until closing time. 

The thing that drew my attention to this girl was her T-Shirt. It had a band logo featured prominently across both the front and back of the shirt was “Led Zeppelin”.  Truthfully, at thirteen my focus was not really on the shirt, but on what was taking shape beneath.  

I took the bus to the Centre mall the next Saturday.  Flush with snow shoveling money, there were a number of things I wanted to get, but the most important one was a rock record.   Seen from afar, the kids who listened to those bands seemed so much more daring than I was.  I wanted a change in music because I wanted a change in me.  Anyone could listen to a different station on the radio, but I was going to own my new music.

I bough bulk batteries at Radio Shack and ate a bag of Kernels popcorn.  I wandered the stores until I could delay gratification no more.  At the Sears record counter, I dug through the discount bin and found Led Zeppelin II,  $5.99 on cassette.  

Once on the bus, I peeled the cellophane (in my memory my hands were shaking, but probably not) and pressed “Play” on my portable player that was roughly the size of a cinderblock.  The liner notes told me I was about to hear “Whole Lotta Love”.

First the guitar riff.  

Then the bass.  

Then Robert’s voice “You need coolin’, Baby I’m not foolin’-”. 

 I slowly sat up in my seat.  I can only imagine how I looked to my fellow passengers as the drums came in.  My mouth hung open.  The vocals traveled around and around the stereo spectrum, when the guitar solo started the hook was set.  In that instant, Jimmy Page made rock and roll part of my life.

It took only five minutes and 34 seconds for me to understand exactly what it was that I liked about that Led Zeppelin T-Shirt.

Taylor Wilson lives in Winona, ON.



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