Sgt. Henry Particelli of the Metro Nashville Police Department said was listening to talk radio a couple of days after George Floyd died. He said discussion that morning was more about the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. That’s what inspired him to write “Your Name,” a song he said was really written about a lot of social injustice in general.
Particelli said he’s obviously a police officer, but this isn’t just about police brutality. He cited Arbery and Trayvon Martin and two shootings that didn’t involve police officers. “We need to do better as a society and we can,” he said, adding that people need to get off of their soapbox, stop yelling at one another and fix some things.
The name of the song is “Your Name,” but Particelli doesn’t specifically mention anyone’s name. He said it was the song’s first line – “I cried for you today and I don’t know you” – that came to him first. “I cried for a lot of these folks. That’s as real as it gets,” Particelli said.
The idea came to him on a Wednesday morning and he said he wrote part of it after he came home from working his shift that day and wrote more of it the next day.
It happened that Particelli was going to the Sound Emporium to record some songs. He said he made it a goal to sit down with some publishers in 2020, something he hadn’t done in the 26 years he had lived in Nashville. He wasn’t planning on recording that song, but he played the song for Juanita Copeland of the Sound Emporium. He said she loved it and they set up a time for it to be recorded.
Copeland believed in the song so much that she pitched the song to country music superstar Garth Brooks, which makes this the first song that Copeland has pitched to an artist. Apparently, Brooks loved the song but felt like Particelli should record it once he found out that Particelli was a police officer because it would be healing.
Particelli said that he felt in his heart that he had something special, but he was nervous and anxious because he wanted people to like the song. Particelli said of the song. “I don’t think I realized at the time how special the song could be,” adding that he knew it was a good song, but did realize how it would impact people. That’s a lesson that he has been learning from complete strangers. He said people that he doesn’t know have sent him Facebook messages and Instagram messages. “It’s had the impact in their lives that I hoped it would have. It’s so validating as a songwriter to hear those comments,” he said.
When Particelli made a video for the song, he asked the Chief if he could wear his Metro Nashville uniform in the video. He said he played the song for the Chief and he was permitted to wear his uniform. There was a press conference held to allow members of the media to hear the song. That was the extent of the involvement that the police department had in the release of the song.
Even though he had the Chief’s permission, Particelli chose to not let uniform be seen until the end of the video. He said he wanted people to fall in love with the song before they knew that he was police officer. “The song could be played at a police officer’s funeral that’s been taken in the line of duty for that matter,” he said, adding that isn’t the intent of the song, but thought it was wide open enough that it could apply to may different situations.
Particelli said the overwhelming majority of comments he has received have been positive, adding that he thinks a lot of healing can from it and it humanizes the badge.”
In addition to “Your Name,” Sgt. Particelli has written many other song. “We Are The Good Guys” and “Let’s Do This Right” are two of his other songs. He said he has released many songs over the year, but his favorite would be “The World’s Strongest Man,” which was written about his dad. The song appeared on a record he released in Canada. Particelli was born and raised in Canada.
Particelli said he wanted to do something impactful when he decided to step away from music. He said law enforcement was an easy decision for him.
He said he picked Nashville on purpose. “If you’re going to be a singer songwriter, this is the place you’ve got to be…I was very intentional about where I wanted to go,” he said.