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The Song That Changed Your Life

The Age of Aquarius by Irene Fantopoulos

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

Video source: Youtube.

I grew up in a strict Greek household. Freedom was hard to come by and independence even harder. I wouldn’t dare defy my parents even with something as benign as going to the corner store alone, participating in sleep-overs or attending school field trips. We had only been in Canada for a few years and my parents thought that dangers lurked in every corner.

When I came upon the music of “Hair”, it defined me as no music ever had before. I swayed to the tribal lyrics and harmonized with James Rado and Gerome Ragni. I reveled in concepts such as equality, peace and utopia. I didn’t know it then, but “Hair” shaped the way that I would view the world around me. As the Vietnam War waged, my fight to be rid of antiquated beliefs raged.

My awakening came the day my father burst into my room and raked my record player’s needle along my beloved “Hair” LP like nails on a chalkboard. 

I watched in horror as his face became a canvas for the colour red. “Turn off that hippie music!” he said, finger pointing in judgment at the now quiet record player. “I don’t want to hear it again!” 

“I like it,” I said. 

“I don’t like it! Next thing I know you’ll be walking around naked and smoking pot. I don’t want you playing it in my house. Understand?” 

I nodded, shell-shocked.

He left my room.

When I heard his last footfall on the creaky stairs, I scooted over to the dresser and looked in horror at the deep gash on my beloved album. My first-ever LP, which my friend Terry had bought for me, lay silent and wounded.

I waited until my father left for work before assessing the damage. I edged the needle onto the LP’s first track, breathing a sigh of relief as the Age of Aquarius filled the room. 

But then, the needle stuck. Skip. Skip. Skip.

I eased the needle onto the second track, then the third and then the fourth.

Skip. Skip. Skip.

Defiance surged like a river in that moment of my twelfth year. I took money from my piggy bank, got on the bus, alone, and went to Woolworth’s for another copy of  “Hair”. 

Though it was a small step, it was my defining moment.

Irene Fantopoulos is from Toronto, ON.

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