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This song was written about the precarious nature of life. Following Paola’s death, we saw that Pietro’s life lost meaning. Everything that they built together tumbled around him. Without her, he needed to rebuild another life. But could he? Did he have the desire?

We used the metaphor of the house of cards because it seemed to illustrate Pietro’s fragile frame of mind and our concern for him. We had many conversations about loss and trauma. For us, the line, “Game of Solitaire” spoke of the fact that Pietro, or any of us for that matter, must do the work alone—finding the strength and courage to rebuild.

Check out our related story at Uncommon Promise


In this house of cards
Black three holds the queen of hearts
Gently placed with care
Game of solitaire

Fragile towers, numbers and faces
Countless hours, diamonds on spades

Colors worn and cracked
Old deck, cautiously stacked
Sensing when to breathe
Becomes strategy

Steady and slow, card by card
How high they go
Will we know when our hopes have been met
and the steeple is set
Shining eyes reflect the dawning

Table kingdom slides through fingertips
Aces teeter as the joker slips
The joker slips

From these paper walls
Towers rise and fall
Start again, build new
Deck of fifty-two

In this house of cards
Black three holds the king of hearts
Gently placed with care
Game of solitaire


from Reason to Stay, track released January 1, 2005
Cheryl Martlage - Lyrics and vocals
Emerson Martlage - Music, guitar and vocals
Tom Tomasello - Producer/Arranger
Jim Bruno - Vocal producer
Mr Toad's San Francisco - Mastering
Inspiration - Paola Quagli


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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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