Purtell says that until a year ago, he hadn’t given much thought to exploring his Vietnam memories. “There is anger, sorrow and regret just under the surface, and I thought it may be a dangerous, scary place to go,” he says. It was during a songwriting hiatus that he decided maybe this was the time. “It became a ‘bucket list’ item,” says Purtell, who served as a medic in the US Army’s Charlie Co. 1/6th, 198th infantry. He and co-writer Torsiello met on their first day in country, and fought side-by-side for a year. They remain close friends.
It was Purtell who approached Torsiello about writing the CD memoir, entitled, “Vietnam: There and Back.” Says Torsiello, “I had never — not even to my wife — told a war story. It felt good to get some of that out, onto paper. If by doing this we can help other veterans who didn't have someone to listen, then we have achieved our goal. We want this music to be a voice for the combat vet.”
The duo then enlisted Bellos to help them shape their stories into songs that would resonate with other vets. “I’m married to a Vietnam Veteran,” says Bellos, “and I know how it stays with you, changes you. There’s no way it couldn’t. I’m so proud to be a part of this project.”
For a month, via phone and Internet, they dug into each others’ memories of 1968, that long year in the jungles of South Vietnam. They agreed on the importance of keeping embellishments out of the songwriting. “Combat veterans know what’s real and what’s not. If it’s not real, it’s not going to connect,” adds Purtell.
Purtell and his co-writers are currently establishing relationships with veterans’ organizations in need of financial assistance. “We understand that many of these organizations are very protective of their image. We want them to know we’d like to help, and we urge them to contact us.”
The 12-song CD, priced at $12.99, will be available in late May via http://vietnamthereandback.com. Discounts are available to organizations and wholesalers for bulk orders. For additional information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT THE SONGWRITERS
Purtell and Bellos have been songwriting partners since 2009. Recent releases include AECOS (An Eclectic Collection of Songs) and SECOS (Second Eclectic Collection of Songs). They are working on a third CD for release later this year.
Purtell and Bellos have also gained recognition for their creative efforts by making the finals of the SongDoor 2010 songwriting competition (“If I Ever Saw You Again”) and winning a Ft. Myers News-Press contest for “If I Close My Eyes.” For more information, please visit stoneybeachmusic.com.
Torsiello is a self-taught guitarist and avowed follower of Bob Dylan and John Prine. He has pursued songwriting as an avocation over the last decade. Vietnam: There and Back is his first commercial venture.