Frank Nguyen, 40: Depeche Mode's 'Home' : Songs Of Remembrance When Frank Nguyen's sister heard "Home," after her brother's passing, it felt like he was sending a message to his family.
NPR logo

Frank Nguyen, 40: Depeche Mode's 'Home'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/970207639/970278692" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Frank Nguyen, 40: Depeche Mode's 'Home'

Frank Nguyen, 40: Depeche Mode's 'Home'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/970207639/970278692" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Half a million people have died in the U.S. from COVID since the pandemic hit this country about a year ago. To remember some of those who lost their lives, NPR is sharing the music they loved and hearing stories from their friends and families. We are calling our tribute Songs of Remembrance. This one is for Frank Nguyen of Aurora, Colo., who died on November 23 of last year. He was 40 years old. Here's his younger sister, Kim Nguyen, remembering her brother.

KIM NGUYEN: Growing up, my brother and I were very close. As children, we bickered, but he was always there for me. As I think about my brother Frank and just reminisce about my memories of him, a lot of it is centered around music.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEPECHE MODE SONG, "HOME")

NGUYEN: He and I - growing up when we were in high school, we would drive around in his car, and he always had something playing at full blast. And a lot of it was electronic music but in particular Depeche Mode.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOME")

DEPECHE MODE: (Singing) Here is a song from the wrong side of town where I'm bound to the ground by the loneliest sound that pounds from within, and it's pinning me down.

NGUYEN: At that time, "Ultra" came out, and he just ate it. And I think that was a very, very pivotal time in his life when that album came out. And it hit so many notes for him.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOME")

DEPECHE MODE: (Singing) Here is a page from the emptiest stage, a cage or the heaviest cross ever made.

NGUYEN: I think that my brother was definitely the type of person that - when he was passionate about something, he wanted to share it with everybody that he could. I remember a few years back there was a karaoke party. It was a busy karaoke bar in downtown Denver. And the first song that he performed was "Walking In My Shoes" by Depeche Mode.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEPECHE MODE SONG, "WALKING IN MY SHOES")

NGUYEN: He did not care what the crowd was feeling. He just wanted to do that song. As a little sister, watching my older brother go up and perform, that was a funny thing to see - a little embarrassing, too (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WALKING IN MY SHOES")

DEPECHE MODE: (Singing) Try walking in my shoes. You'll stumble in my footsteps. Keep the same appointments I kept if you try walking in my shoes.

NGUYEN: A couple of days after he passed away, I remember just having a few moments to myself. And I had my music streaming just on random songs, and Depeche Mode's "Home" came up. And, you know, the song has this big orchestral wind-up to the chorus where it says, and I thank you for bringing me here, for showing me home...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOME")

DEPECHE MODE: (Singing) And I thank you for bringing me here, for showing me home.

NGUYEN: ...For singing these tears.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOME")

DEPECHE MODE: (Singing) For singing these tears.

NGUYEN: Finally, I found that I belong here.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOME")

DEPECHE MODE: (Singing) Finally, I found that I belong here.

NGUYEN: It transported me back to those high school years, being in the car, listening to the song at full blast. And I felt like it was my brother talking to me, and I felt like it was his way of sending a message and just trying to figure out where I go from here, where my family goes from here and what we do to honor his life and legacy. That song helped me because it felt like a message - him letting us know that things are going to be OK, or at least he was OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEPECHE MODE SONG, "HOME")

KELLY: That was Kim Nguyen remembering her brother Frank, who died from COVID. You can visit our tribute, NPR's Songs of Remembrance, at npr.org.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.