Sean’s Song

I knew of Sean Carlin long before I ever met him.

In 1993, I was in Kent, Ohio recording my first album with a high school friend at Electro-Sound Studios led by an engineer named Greg Feezel.

Greg had recorded the sessions for many local musicians and Sean Carlin’s band Dink was one of them.

If you paid attention to alternative music in the early 90s, you might recognize Dink by the hit that made the waves on MTV, “Green Mind.” You see, back in the 90s, Dink achieved what nearly every person in a band ever dreamed of: they signed to a major label and toured everywhere. Sadly, the band only lasted a handful of years.

It would be 16 years later that I would finally meet Sean, long after Dink disbanded.

In 2009, I was opening my business and there was a commercial/residential glass company in my plaza owned Al and Amanda Montigney. As I was introducing myself to each of my neighbors, Amanda was the first client to sign up with me.

It worked out well for me, because I wanted mirrors in my studio and Al and his crew were able to help me with that. One of those installers was none other than Sean himself, coincidentally Amanda’s older brother.

When installation began, Sean was one of the staff members who came to help

We got to talking about our lives and interests and it didn’t take long before I found out what band he used to be a part of.

I chuckled and said: You and I recorded at the same studio! Greg Feezel recorded my first album.

From there on out, Sean and I always had music as a common interest.

Those who know the story well, know that I would go on to start a relationship with Al and Amanda’s daughter, Marissa, who I’m now married to and we have our son Sebastian.

And even though Sean and I didn’t have a great deal of contact throughout the years, he was actually involved in mirror installation every time I expanded my business.

As Sebastian has grown up and come to love music just as much as I do, it’s been a constant conversation about his “Uncle” Sean and the time he spent in Dink.

A couple of years ago, Sean was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer. When we found out, we knew the news wasn’t good.

Sean still passionately performed music and had a house full to the brim with instruments, many of which were synthesizers used to make layers of droning, instrumental music that was far removed from the work of Dink.

A small concert was held last year bringing many fans of Sean and Dink together to hear him play and it was Sebastian’s first introduction to what Sean was capable of.

Not long ago, Marissa told me that Sean was a big fan of Depeche Mode and I thought I’d play a cover of one of their songs to post on Facebook so he could hear it. I thought it might give him at least a few moments of happiness.

Sean’s condition worsened and the last few months saw his health take a dramatic turn. Marissa and I were able to visit him in a nursing home a few weeks ago when he was still coherent and we brought him lunch so he wasn’t relying on the food where he was staying. He was appreciative and loving and only had plans to get better and go back home.

That day wouldn’t come.

Last week, Marissa asked if I wanted to meet her at the hospital to see him. I had a break during my work day and met her there. Sean was fading but was still aware of the people in the room who were there to see him: his girlfriend Cheryl, Marissa, Amanda, longtime family friend (Donna)and myself.

When Donna left, I came to Sean’s side and thought I’d offer him the same token of love I offered my father in his final days: You want to listen to some music?

He looked over at me and nodded.

I pulled up YouTube and found the video for “Never Let Me Down Again” by Depeche Mode. I hit play, turned the volume up slightly and laid my phone against his chest.

We were holding hands and I asked him: Does it sound okay?

He nodded, squeezed my hand, and just listened.

When the song ended, we held hands a bit longer and I knew it was time for me to say goodbye so I could get back to work.

I told him I loved him and that I’d see him again.

Sebastian, Marissa and Amanda saw him on the day that he passed, August 10.

Sean, I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to know each other better. I’m sure we would have gotten along famously. It’s hard for music fanatics to not have a lot of respect for one another. Rest assured, I’ll never listen to Depeche Mode the same way again and I’ve been a fan of that band since the mid-80s.

You’ll be happy to know that your little guy, Sebastian, is probably going to have a lot of your DNA in him. He’s young, but he’s got potential when it comes to music.

I’ve been trying to work up the nerve to cover “Never Let Me Down Again” for you in your memory. It’s not that it’s a hard song to sing or play, I just don’t want to fuck it up. I figure, you deserve a good cover song and I will ALWAYS remember you when I hear it.

As Sebastian gets older, I promise we’ll keep your memory alive. He needs to know how much you cared about him and, had time allowed, what you could have taught him.

The good thing about music is that it outlives all of us.

And know that every time I walk into my studio, I’ll have a little piece of you there every time I see my mirror.

We’re flying high
We’re watching the world pass us by
Never want to come down
Never want to put my feet back down on the ground

See the stars, they’re shining bright
Everything’s alright tonight

“Never Let Me Down Again” by Depeche Mode