The Sunday Magazine

The Music That Changed Your World: Listeners respond

Listeners tell us about the music that affected them at critical moments in their lives. We'll hear their stories along with music from West Side Story, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Paul Robeson, Tom Lehrer, Clint Eastwood singing in the musical Paint Your Wagon, and Lighthouse's big-band big hit, "One Fine Morning."

Our music man Robert Harris was on the program last week for the start of a new series -- "The Music That Changed Your World." With Robert's help, and yours, we are going to explore the albums or CDs that were important in our lives. 

We received a flood of listener responses to that piece, and we're sharing a few of them here. 

This is from Bill Kernohan in Midland, Ontario:   

    "Michael, you said 'Jazz at Oberlin' changed your world. 
     When I heard that, I yelled out "yes!!" — which startled my wife. 
     Then I told her how that album also changed my world — I first listened to the LP in public school, and continued to do so throughout my university years. 
     What a great start to 2017!"

This is from Carolyn Affleck in Victoria, B.C.

    "Robert Harris is such an engaging guest and a wonderful music tutor. 
     And I can really relate to his love of the musical, "Wonderful Town." I have a similar reaction to Bernstein's "West Side Story." I probably heard it in the womb and was dancing to it as a toddler. 
     As an older child, I was shy and physically awkward. I'd come home from school, put on the record, dance and sing to my heart's content, and act the fearless fighter I so desperately wanted to be. 
     Bernstein changed my world! My well-worn LP is still on regular rotation. 
     What fun, your programme. I can't wait for the next episode."

This is from Dr. Warren Bell in Salmon Arm, B.C.

    "When I was 12 years old, I went with my parents to my first-ever symphony concert at Vancouver's old Orpheum Theatre. Our seats were so high up, it seemed as if we were almost looking straight down at the orchestra. That night, the orchestra played "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," by Paul Dukas.
     I was transfixed. I leaned forward so far in my seat that I felt I might fall down right on top of the orchestra. The symmetry and coordinated dancing movements of the violin bows, and the sprightly, evocative music sang in my head afterwards. I told my parents that I wanted to play the violin. So began six years of learning the intricacy of the violin. 
     Although I started too late to learn enough technique to make it a career, music has forever animated my life, and fills in the spaces in my mind where words cannot go."

From Miriam Clavir in Vancouver:

    "Paul Robeson's "Peace Arch Concert" came out in 1952, and through my childhood, Robeson's magnificent voice embodied, for me, the determination needed to fight for social justice and dignity. As a white, Jewish kid in a left-leaning family in Toronto, my context came to include McCarthyism, the Rosenbergs' kids living through the execution of their parents, and the civil rights movement, whose importance only grew through the next decade.
    Robeson and the Peace Arch embodied "we shall overcome" for me, well before I had heard that anthem. But the album that changed my world -- the shock of first listening to it I remember to this day -- was by Tom Lehrer. "That Was the Year That Was", and particularly the song "The Vatican Rag". I was a teenager, utterly delighted by its anti-establishment, clever, rebellious, scandalizing lyrics."

Amdur Reuel in Val-des-Monts, Quebec, sent this note about another song of rebellion.

    "I was a teen madly in love with a young Italian American girl. She taught me to sing the socialist anthem, "Avanti Popolo." It is over six decades since that romance faded away, but I can still sing "Avanti Popolo." 

From David Bright in St. Catharines, Ontario:

    "As a teenager growing up in 1970s Britain, I thought maybe the debut album by the Clash, for its stark commentary on a society in decline. 
     Or John Lee Hooker's Tantalizing With the Blues for...well, just for showing me how deep music could go. 
     But I realize my true revelation came earlier, with the soundtrack to the movie "Paint Your Wagon," the musical account of the 1850s' gold rush in America.     
     Even as a 10-year-old, I found each song to be irresistibly catchy. 
     Apart from the melodies, I relished the sheer joy of rhyme and wordplay that Lerner and Loewe had by then perfected. Twinning 'arson' and 'parson', and 'itchin'' and 'kitchen', amuses me even now. 
     I never understood the claim that Clint Eastwood couldn't sing — he acquitted himself just fine, I thought.
    A final note. My childhood immersion in the joys of "Paint Your Wagon" coincided with the demise and eventual rupture of my parents' marriage. 
     On the one hand, it represents a time when everything seemed to be OK. On the other hand, it is tainted by memories that the process of divorce inevitably engender in a child."

And finally, from Kate Daniels-Howard in Telkwa, B.C.
      "The album "One Fine Morning", by the Canadian band Lighthouse changed my life and set me on my own course of musical discovery. 
     Growing up the daughter of a Big Band fanatic was terrific.   
     The Lighthouse album brought two things together — the wonder of the world around me through lyrics I could relate to — and the horns that seemed to amplify the sheer joy of being alive on a sunny Okanagan morning with the music blaring through our outdoor speakers into the fields of the orchard.
     It was the first album I bought at Harris' music shop on Main Street. I think I was 11. 
     I played it over and over, from the moment I woke up, and every chance I got throughout the day.
     Thank you for this wonderful trip down memory lane!"

If you missed Robert's appearance on the show last week, you can find it here. If you'd like to add your story to our collection, our email address is

Robert Harris will return in a few weeks' time with the second installment of "The Music That Changed Your World."


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