Music is genuinely a part of my soul. Like reading or writing, music can raise my blood pressure, bring me to laughter, or bring me to tears. Most people I have discussed this with hold the same relationship with music. Whether it’s the lyrics or the musical arrangement itself, it resonates with us. We have workout playlists, mellow playlists, rainy day playlists, and so on. I would imagine the lists are as complex as human emotion.
For me personally, a particular song, or sometimes an entire album or artist, often has some association with it: a person, a place, an event, a mood, an object, or a particular time in my life. Sometimes that connection is stronger depending upon the magnitude of what I am associating it with. For example, there is a Creed song titled Arms Wide Open. My association, and an easy one, was my anxiety of becoming a father for the first time. AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock? My Gibson SG. Fleetwood Mac’s Silver Spring takes me back to an airport where I said goodbye to a girl I was dating so she could return home to an ex-boyfriend who had pleaded for one more chance. Iron Maiden’s Wasted Years: long story, lol. Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters: my wife. I could go on and on with this.
I haven’t posted for a few weeks because I had a death in the family. My uncle passed away in February and his death hit me harder than most. I wrote a tribute to him HERE because I needed to write but then spent the next few weeks trying to comfort others all while sitting over 2000 miles away. His service was last weekend and most everyone in my family made it to Arizona with the exception of me and few other relatives and friends. I couldn’t go for a number of reasons and it was tearing me up. Throughout the weekend, I got texts and updates from numerous family members including pictures: the funeral service cars being led by a group of motorcycles, the bikers lining the walkway with American Flags they’d had folded up on their bikes, two young Marines folding a flag, and then pics of family members and friends. They made me a part of it despite their own grief. That was last weekend. I had cried the morning my mother texted me he had passed and I cried when my sister sent me the pictures of the Marines folding the flag but other than that, I have been a bit numb and not really dealing with this. That was until last night.
Thursday, my uncle’s fiancé texted me asking me about the town I live in and if it was in what’s called the Southern Tier, in NY. I replied yes. She had friended me on Facebook and I noticed she had gone to college at a University that is located about 15 miles from me. I was going to mention it to her earlier but felt it wasn’t the time because she was obviously grieving. It turns out she is from this area and was born about 25 miles from where I presently live and grew up in neighboring towns. Her mother and two of her kids were born in the same town I live in now. The same town my wife was born in and my reason for now living in NY. And it hit me, what are the odds that a boy and his uncle, who both grew up in a small mining town in Arizona along the Mexican border would find their soul mates from the same small rural county in New York? Crazy.
So back to last night. People have been continually posting things on my Uncle’s Facebook page. I’ve read most of them but somehow missed two posts. One of them was re-posted by my uncle’s fiancé, thanking the man who had posted it. It was a tribute he had done for my Uncle with photographs of his time in Vietnam along with an old CCR song playing in the background. Last night I decided to watch it again and started to get emotional. When it ended, I noticed the same guy had done one more so I watched it and completely lost it. I don’t think I have cried like that in years. Maybe I needed it.
So… Fortunate Son and Into The Mystic now have a face, a time, a place, and so much more.
Meet my uncle – Charlie Sotelo:
I’m sorry to hear of your loss, and I wish you comfort during this difficult time. Music defines so many of the most pivotal moments of my life as well. Perhaps now when I hear John Fogerty belting out “Fortunate Son” I will smile and think of your uncle, too. Best wishes to you, Karen 🙂
Thank you so much Karen. It’s been three weeks today. I’m getting there. 🙂
This was a wonderful piece, although written for a sad reason. I am and have been keeping you and your family in my thoughts, although our paths in the world will likely never cross.
On a completely different note, your post stirred the murky Saturday Morning depths of thought. Music is something that, while incredibly important, often recedes into the background of our cultural subconscious. Without the vital pathways it lays in our brain, however, language would not take the form it does. I could not do what I do.
I think about that–about the powerful role music has taken in my own life, both as a marker of experience and a force that has shaped my consciousness–and I worry about the current state of public education, in which music and creative programs are the first to be sacrificed when budget cuts are made. Without exposure to new and interesting musical forms, how will those who follow me choose to mark significant moments? What will be given up? What shape will those individual lives take?
Thank you! Although not in a traditional manner, our paths have already crossed Erin and for that I’m grateful.
I’ve always been bothered by any cuts to arts programs. We almost had it here with the orchestra program and the community stepped up and voiced concern – loudly. Thankfully it stayed. I am from the school of thought that these programs foster growth in other disciplines or areas of study.
Music connects people, stirs memories and shares stories. I never knew your uncle but now feel as though I’ve experienced his story. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. May the music continue to be healing and connecting.
Thank you Charli.:)
Oh Bill… condolences to you and your family. Music heals…
Thanks buddy. Music does heal.
Beautiful Bill…music always helps me find my way in times of darkness and often provides that push over the edge that is needed to release the emotions…I think you needed this…we all do at times – thanks for sharing x
Thank you Georgia. I think I did… do
I haven’t watched the videos because I’m at home and you know the whole silly satellite download thing. I will be looking at them on my phone as soon as I get out into civilization. Thinking about you dear friend!
I had saw the Marine’s one on his FB page. I didn’t know the Obit one existed until the other night. I have to tell you I completely freaking lost it watching that and hearing that song. I’ve always loved Into The Mystic. Thank you Dena for just being you 🙂
A moving, heartfelt tribute to your uncle. I’m sorry for your loss, but am glad that your uncle was so loved.
Thank you Jennifer. He was very loved 🙂
Bill, I just watched the Van Morrison video and now I’m crying too. it’s easy to see that your uncle was a beautiful man and very much loved. A friend of my brother’s was once told by Bob Dylan that “Death don’t mix with life,” and although death is, of course, a part of life, it’s so hard to accept sometimes. I do believe in life after this life, so that gives me hope.
Thank you Mary. It is so tough to accept but I believe in some sort of life after this life as well.
Not only are both of the videos emotional and touching tributes, so are both of your posts. Charlie looked like a wonderful man, surrounded by people that adored him. I am sorry that he left too soon. Thinking of you.
I watched them first thing yesterday morning and they both are very touching, but the first one made me tear up. Without ever meeting Charlie, I got a sense of who he was. He seemed like such a good soul.
Thanks Dena. I never met the guy who put them together but was told he was a good friend of my Uncle. He touched a lot of people.
What I loved about this is that music is a trigger for my writing. My memories. Takes you there.
Absolutely. I’m the same way.