I was 12 years old.
I was sitting on a bus full of other students from my junior high school. We were waiting for the rest of the students to cross the border so they could load up the bus and take us on a school road trip, it could’ve been Magic Mountain or any of those bullshit annual trips.
I didn’t hang with these other kids. Nor the ones we were waiting for. I was just waiting for this long ass bus ride to an amusement park to begin so I could wander alone in the park, and maybe tag along with some other weirdos, but I seriously doubt it that could happen.
In the midst of waiting, and listening to the whole lot screaming and talking loudly on a school bus, one of the older kids comes in rushing to the bus and gets the tape player he had brought from home.
I’m sitting 3, maybe 4, rows away from where all this bullshit chaos nonsense is happening.
And he says to his friends something to the effect of:
– “hey, shut the fuck up and listen”.
– his friends comply.

He goes ahead and pops in a cassette. Puts the vomume close to the max, if not at the max. And this is the first time, of about 25 consecutive times on that same bus ride, my 12 year old ears listen to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.
And needles to say. My 12 year old brain sort of exploded. I had always been surrounded by people I knew whenever music discovery time happened, but here I was alone and surrounded by a shitload of strangers that to this day don’t remember their names but that one asshole kid who was at least 3 years older than me played a song in an environment that caused my head and heart to be filled with the joy of liking something new.
The rest of the day I hummed and made up lyrics to the song while I wandered around the amusement park by myself.

Goddamn right music can change your life.

Words by: Alfredo Tellez & Edith Morales