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The Song That Changed Your Life: Picks

Time, The Magical Musical Box by Thomas Bauer

For years my favorite music memory was dancing on the dining room table to ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band’. The year was 1969, and the room full of father’s students, smiling in candlelight, indulging in wine and various sundries. He had lifted me onto the table because I was giddy from the people and the music, and I danced, and they all helped me along with claps and cheers.

When I was a teenager, foundering in the wake of divorce, I lived in my father’s house where I spent a lot of time alone in my room with a carefully-researched and acquired record collection. Then the most important album was Van Morrison’s ‘Astral Weeks’: jazzy soulful songs resounding with deep meanings, helping make sense of things in the midst of chaos and dissolution. Then Joni Mitchell’s ‘Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter’ became the new touchstone, an album I played all the way through on the way to the hospital for my daughter’s birth. To this day I proclaim “Paprika Plains” the number one song about Canadian experience.

But my big music turning point came on my oldest son’s thirteenth birthday. I’d been raising my sons - this was before my daughter was born - on music from my youth, except we were focusing on bands I hadn’t gotten to know, most notably Genesis. For some reason, perhaps because we were boys, the early music of Genesis had been favorited. For my son’s birthday I decided to take him to see a Genesis cover band called The Musical Box at the now-defunct, though legendary Spectrum Montreal. We didn’t know what to expect, so we were pretty blown away when the lights dimmed and a single spotlight came up on a mad-looking singer in a crazy-caped alien costume, with bat-winged and painted face, who started singing this sci-fi piece called “Watcher of The Skies”. My son turned to me with a look I’d never seen: a mix of awe, gratitude, and revelation. From that moment years exploring an endless variety of rock styles followed, from cabaret to prog, and to this day I am fortunate to be learning still about many different kinds of music from my children, who are as eager to share their experiences with me as I with them.

And the adventure continues!

Thomas Bauer is from Montreal, QC

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