Stratford teacher’s song featured in Hollywood movie

STRATFORD — Dealing with tragedy is a familiar concept for Dylan Connor.

The Bunnell High School Latin teacher and singer-songwriter has taken several trips to Syria to call attention to the humanitarian crisis spawned by the country’s civil war.

But his latest single is about processing loss closer to home.

Titled “Bring you Back,” it’s an elegy dedicated to those who have lost loved ones to the senseless tragedy of an automobile accident.

“It’s really a sad song because I have in my years of teaching lost several students,” Connor said. “Whether students at Bunnell or students that I had to these automobile accidents that happen all too frequently across the nation, they really rock the town and the community.

“You know that awkwardness that sometimes happens around a tragedy? How do you comfort people without ruffling feathers or making it worse? I had lost another student recently,” Connor said. “Often the way to deal with the worst emotions or the hardest emotions is to write a song.”


A somber, black and white music video features Connor singing the song and grayscale images created by artist Marc Nelson, a teacher and artist who draws pictures about the Syrian conflict.

The video was directed by Lou Spetrino, who teaches video production at Bunnell.

The song is also featured in a movie released late last year called “Adverse,” that features Mickey Rourke, Penelope Ann Miller, Lou Diamond Phillips and Sean Astin.

Connor said he got a call from the director of the movie, Brian Metcalf, a couple years ago after meeting him while screening a movie about the Syrian civil war in which he had a song featured.

A sketch featured in the music video for

A sketch featured in the music video for “Bring You Back,” by Dylan Connor

Contributed / Marc Nelson

“We exchanged numbers, and a year later or so he called me out of the blue and was just like, ‘Hey, I’m making a movie, I want you to take a look at it and see if you want to contribute a song for it,’” Connor, who was in the middle of writing “Bring You Back” at the time, recalled.

So he finished the song and sent it to Metcalf.

“I presented the song to the director, he liked it and said ‘I’d love to use it,’” Connor said.

The movie is a revenge action thriller — not the first thing that comes to mind hearing Connor’s solemn, acoustic song. But it also deals with the concept of loss, which is universal.

The song is featured in a scene with Rourke, who portrays an aging crime lord named Kaden.

In a review published last month, Variety’s Joe Leydon said “the very best thing in the entire movie is Rourke’s surprisingly affecting and consistently riveting portrayal of Kaden as a melancholy monster who is at once painfully self-aware and unapologetically amoral.”

“When the film came out on DVD and on demand, I came home and got it up on Amazon Prime, fast-forwarded to the scene I know my song was in and turned it way up,” Connor said. “It was really kind of a great moment to be like ‘Wow, there’s Mickey Rourke… and there’s my song playing in the background.”

The pandemic has not been good for musicians who rely on live performances to grow their fan base and make money.

Connor says he’s lucky to have a day job to pay the bills so he can focus on coming up with new songs.

“I think that’s a benefit of the pandemic,” he said. “We’ve all turned inward a little bit. I didn’t have to worry about playing gigs until 2 in the morning, so I could write. But it’s been really challenging for musician buddies of mine who haven’t been able to play live. It crushes their soul a little bit.”

The pandemic has also kept Connor away from traveling to Syria.

But he’s working to find sponsors for families he met during his last trip there just before COVID-19 shut down international travel and is also standing for election to be a national board member of the Syrian-American Council.

Anyone willing to help can contact Connor at [email protected] to find out more. So far he said he’s found sponsors to pay for about half of the families he met with while in Syria.

“We’re checking off one at a time, and I won’t stop until I’ve gotten them all squared away,” he said.

Updated: March 22, 2021 — 7:25 pm

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