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After All tells a simple story of two ordinary people who have chosen to live in a committed relationship together. The merging of two lives is defined through shared experiences, offered here as stories and music. It is possible to discover incredible magic, creating unique intimacy, when our histories, dreams, and daily dramas are shared openly with someone we love.

Even though these stories are drawn from our personal lives, we suspect that they are not ours alone. In many ways they are universal—easily recounted by those who take a few quiet moments to jot down some notes as they make their way on their own life’s journey.


released September 1, 2008

We dedicate this music to those life-long partners who have modeled tenacious and enduring love, after all.

Cheryl Martlage - Lyrics and vocals
Emerson Martlage - Music, guitar and vocals
Mr Toad's San Francisco - Mastering
Patricia Barry Ryley - Graphic Design


all rights reserved



Cheryl and Emerson Martlage San Diego, California

At the age of 48, and after 25 years of marriage, we headed to a secluded town for 6 weeks, to create a new relationship and begin again.

When we arrived as if by magic, we co-wrote our first song ever— "Never Sleep," evoking the mystery and magic of the new adventure. Twenty years later, we're still making music. Join us on our musical storytelling as the adventure continues to unfold
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Track Name: After All
If we make it through these hard times
We will be grateful for all our lives
I can promise you better days
But for now love’s what we have
After all

When we’ve endured all this strife
Bittersweet memories will be kind
In the years to come we’ll look back
Knowing that we always had
Simply love

We’ve had our share of good days
To shore us up and keep hope alive
Content just being together, drawing strength
We knew somehow that we’d be all right
After all

After all that’s happened, stronger than ever
Trust and commitment have inspired our way

As we weather all life can bring
Warm and sweet memories ease the sting
What matters more in the end
Is the comfort found in knowing we have love
To safely see us through our lives together
Simply love

After all
Track Name: Secret Pocket
Sawdust powders the floor
Grandpa turns when he hears me slip into the room
Quietly closing the door
Then he smiles as he holds out both of his hands
To lift me up higher
And away the cat dashes

He slips his hand past a drawer
Then releases a latch secretly placed
Hidden where no one can see
With a click and a grin he reaches in
On a peg in the back
Hangs a sack made of velvet

Tied with ribbon
Grandma threaded through
Fabric taken from a dress
Worn by someone long ago

Sewn together
So that it can hold
Three old pictures of
Someone that I know I’ve seen before
Maybe in the mirror

All at once
I see the girl in the picture
Dressed in velvet is my mom

He gives the ribbons a tug
Then replaces the pocket back onto the peg
With a wink he turns to me
Then he brings his finger up to his lips
“I made it for you,
a special secret pocket.”

What fun in what he’s done
Making and sharing with me
Somewhere to keep our memories
Track Name: Inherit
What if someone making speeches held a child
To remind us of our promise
Imagine while looking in their eyes
The world that we will give them

All we leave behind
They will inherit

Consider including everyone
When making changes
How can we keep the children safe and sound
In future generations

All we leave behind
They will inherit

We know our deeds are felt by more than 7 generations
Making the most of all we’re given is our charge
We can’t protect the world, relying on just good intentions
Building tomorrow means caring today

It’s up to us to make a difference

How can we know just what we are to do
Someone must lead us
Imagine we are keepers of the hope
Guardians of the future

Everything we do
They will inherit

All we leave behind
They will inherit
What if someone making speeches held a child
Track Name: Changing Ways
Long ago
When I was young
Quite unaware what I’d begun

Day by day
I lived as though
There was a singular way to go

Step by step
I found my way
Taking the path that I made

Year by year
I grew to know
There are so many ways one can go
As you know

On my way
I met others
Who had begun from another place
Somewhere our ways crossed and merged
Sometimes we walked together

For some time
Content just to share someone’s company
After some time
We went separate ways
But as friends

Now I know
Which path I take
Changes with every friend that I make

Time again
My days are spent
Wondering where I’ll go
And where I have been
Long ago
Changing ways as I go
With friends at the crossroads
Track Name: Thief
Scattered traces
All around and much too near
Tell me in their silence
Secretly, once again he’s been here

Subtle changes
In my room and in my mirror
Confirm what I suspected
Once again, revealing he was here

Nobody saw him
Enter or go out
Though based on the evidence
There’s not a single doubt

His only motive is
To commit the perfect crime
Leaving his dull mark all around on everything
That phantom thief called Time
That tricky devil, Time

Always without warning
No way to avoid him
From the shadows I can hear him breathe

Not a moment is safe
Singled out of harm’s way
Only thing for sure: Time will never leave me

That phantom thief called Time
That tricky devil, Time

Disturbing details
Turn up, littered everywhere
Proof that he still lingers
I can feel his presence in the air

Nobody sees him
Only what he’s done
There’s no way that we can find him
He’s always on the run

That tricky devil, Time
That phantom thief called Time
Track Name: Only Miles Away
About this time each evening
When the day slows and quiets down

I summon every nuance
Memories and details of your face

Things that only I know
That are mine alone

One day becomes another
Hardly different from the one before

Crowding out the drone of sameness
Memories rush in, I hear your voice

Sounds that only I know
That are mine alone

Tell me just how it feels
To be there alone without me

I’ll tell you how it feels
To be here without you

Miles away from home

Things that only I know
That are mine alone

Just tell me that you feel
The same way that I do

I’ll tell you how I feel
So lonely without you

Waiting to come home

Each passing hour
I imagine brings me closer still

Beyond my thoughts and memories
You are there always waiting for me

You know I’m coming back home
Yours and mine alone

You are always with me
Only miles away

So far and yet so close
Only miles away
Track Name: Narrow Ledge
Help me, help me save my life
I cry looking down
From a frightening narrow ledge
Where I stand far above the ground
Will you catch me if I fall
Hurry, the flames are getting close
They burn my eyes and take my breath
I can hardly see or breathe
Hardly see, barely breathe

Help me, help me save my life
It seems so far
I’m not sure just where I’ll land
I don’t know exactly where you are
Can you tell me that I will
Survive the fall and be okay
Or will I tear apart, simply break
Into pieces on the ground
Scattered all around

All the while the night is balmy
Crystal clear beyond the fire
Through the dense smoke I imagine
Distant city lights flicker, burning bright

Even though my world seems fragile
I know that there is another one
Where there are no fires
No more fire

Help me, help me save my life
I’m letting go
Soon I’ll fly just like a bird
As I soar on wings of hope
Into waiting open arms
That will bring me down to earth
Tears burn my eyes and take my breath
I can finally see and breathe
I can see
When you help me help me
I can finally breathe
Track Name: Big Green Chair
Half a day is passed at school
Then I’m home by noon, it’s time to play

Mama worked hard yesterday
Now she’s sleeping late
So I won’t make a sound

I’ll grab a bite to eat
Prop up both my feet
Settle back into the big green chair

After lunch I read a book
Switch on TV to look
Cartoons fill the screen

Throw my legs upon the back
Swing my hair this way and that
Now my whole world is turned upside down

Without a single care
You could always find me there
Nestled deep into my big green chair

I notice that I’m wearing mismatched socks
Volume D has pictures of each different kind of dog
My purple Kool-Aid stain moustache is finally wearing off
What a shame

Now it’s getting close to four
Soon bursting through the door
My brother comes in

With my sister close behind
They both laugh to find me there
Kind of dozing in my big green chair

Then Mama’s at the stove
And Daddy has just come home
Glad to see them, I jump from my green chair
All together we’re finally
Home again
Track Name: Play (Zia's Song)
Beneath the skin there lives a girl
Always present, rarely seen by the world
So wildly innocent with eyes of wonder
Everything she touches comes alive, filled with magic

Glittered hair
Twirling with excitement
Floating on air
Head thrown back
In fits of laughter

Secrets barely whispered
Begging to be shared
Dancing with her sister
Just like when they were kids

Hand in hand
Keeping time to a tune
Only heard by the young
Only for the young

Inside the heart, there lives a girl
Always present, often missed by the world
Just beyond each knowing smile, there lives a small child
Naïve and running free, ageless, timeless

Silver hair
Glitter on her fingers
Style and flair
Head thrown back
With tears of laughter

Visions all around her
Waiting to be shared
Creative dreams have found her
Just like she was a kid at play
Keeping time to a tune
Only heard by the young

Hidden, quietly just beneath the skin
Is a child, waiting, longing just to be
Invited to come out and play
Track Name: Stone by Stone
Here I am again, just taking stock
Thinking of all I have
And that which I have lost
It seems so clear to me
All alone as darkness falls
I can see the light
When I take down the walls
Stone by stone

Those walls
I thought might save me
Not sure what they gave me
Maybe just a little something else I could call my own
But within those walls I always found myself alone

Taking down the walls means everyone can see
That my life is simple, hardly trouble-free
Pretty much the way I thought that it could be
If only. . . I am willing to take down the walls
Stone by stone

Just beyond the walls there’s always so much more

Now I’m kicking back, just taking time
With all the walls torn down
I see everything’s inside
It seems so clear to me
Bright as day, and that’s because
I can see the light
Since I took down the walls
Stone by stone

Open views as far as I can see
Without walls
New horizons have suddenly appeared
Stone by stone