Tim Cretella was cooking chili and drinking a beer back in January when a friend tagged him on a Facebook post linking to a video on Hot 99.5’s site. Still cooking at the stove, Cretella clicked the link on his phone.
“It was like a movie scene,” he recalled. “I held my phone up, and then I literally spit my beer out when I heard the first ding of the guitar.”
“Holy [cow],” he remembered thinking. “That’s my song.”
The video was the two-minute ad advocating for a Redskins name change, which the National Congress of American Indians produced before the Super Bowl. The guitar ding — and subsequent music — was written by Cretella and his wife Brittany, a singer/songwriter duo unaccustomed to a national audience. And the ad’s message was of particular interest to Cretella, a lifelong Redskins fan who grew up in Prince William County, lives in Old Town, is married to a fellow Redskins fan and is friends almost exclusively with Redskins fans.
“You know as well as I do there’s some people that take the name change real seriously,” Cretella, 30, said with a laugh, comparing his recent experience to the first time Bob Dylan got booed. “It’s definitely a surreal feeling.”
The YouTube video attracted nearly 2 million views. But things got weirder two weeks ago.
The Cretellas — who perform under the name Doppio — had signed with a publishing company in New York called Spirit Music Group about a year ago. They’ve had some commercial success; a Visa ad with their music has been airing in Singapore and Australia and recently got picked up in Hong Kong, which meant a massive boost in royalties.
But the big break, it turned out, would also involve the Redskins. His agency called two weeks ago to tell Cretella that a shortened version of the Super Bowl ad would be airing on ABC in eight major markets during the NBA Finals. When he told his wife, she had tears in her eyes.
“You’re waiting, you keep waiting — we waited for a whole year, and nothing,” he said. “It’s almost not real when you know [your music] is airing on the other side of the world. This time it will be in the moment, on my TV screen, knowing that millions of people around the country are seeing this, and it came out of my [bleeping] head. It’s wild.”
And yet the fallout will be odd. Cretella quickly received about 20 congratulatory messages from friends after news of the national spot was finally released this week; “these are all D.C. fans — they probably don’t want the name to change, but they’re happy for me,” he said. Brittany grew up in Woodbridge, another Redskins stronghold. He’s a regular listener of 106.7 The Fan, whose callers are predominantly against a name change. And his music is now the soundtrack for that cause.
Cretella remains a Washington fan who watches nearly every game and got a Redskins shirt as a gift last Christmas. But his own thoughts on the matter have changed in recent years.
“Personally, I think if there’s anyone we’ve mistreated in this country, it’s the Indians,” he said. “And if there are any of them who are sincerely offended by the name, I think we should definitely consider changing it. I’ve kind of always been one for the underdog anyway.”
“This is the least we could do knowing the brutal events that occurred during the nation’s formation,” he later wrote in an e-mail.
Regardless, the song — which is called “The Battle,” and is far longer than 60 seconds — was not written to be a Redskins name-change anthem. It was written in late 2010, before the Cretellas had even signed with a publishing company. (You can listen to the full song here.) The music was not meant to convey any sort of Native American theme.
“I always loved ‘Last of the Mohicans'; maybe I was a little bit inspired by that, I don’t know,” Cretella joked. “But there was nothing in the front of my mind about it being about Native Americans.”
Still, he said the song “has an inspirational sound to it,” and he thinks it works in the commercial. The lyrics, he said, are about hope and moving forward. Here’s how it ends:
And overhead, what proud eagle lights across the western sky?
Leads my heavy thoughts through the endless halls of time
A distant memory floats below the clouded, hazy sun
A dream unfulfilled escapes
The Battle, not yet begun.
(First written by 106.7 The Fan.)