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Em’s father’s health had been failing for some time, but by the fall of 2001 he seemed more stable. In light of his improvements, we prepared for our routine trip back to Italy. When we left the US, Harry was out of the hospital. He had been given an oxygen tank, but was mobile and comfortable. We were hesitant to leave, but felt that staying; watching, and waiting could gain nothing for anyone. But Harry was in our thoughts.

When we arrived in Italy we began writing this song as a meditation to release Harry from this earth. Our hope for him was that he would go peacefully rather than continue his tormented routine of emergency ambulance runs. We finished the song as a reflection of our feelings and the observation that as babies, we are held and rocked. Then as aged adults, we find ourselves back in the rocking chair, this time alone, rocking ourselves. In each case, comfort is the primary intention.

Then one day, Cheryl was at SACI working while Em was at the apartment in Fiesole. He happened to be sitting at the living room table across from Pietro, talking, when the phone rang. Pietro answered it, immediately handing it over to Em, saying it was our son, Aaron calling. Em took the phone, anticipating Aaron’s message. As expected, Harry had died in the night. There were no words as Emerson broke down sobbing.

Em collected our passports and went to pick Cheryl up at the arranged time outside the Duomo in Florence. He was sitting against the Baptistry when she arrived in the Piazza. As the bus approached, she read his body language and knew immediately what had happened. We drove to the airport and booked a flight for the next day. We hoped that in some small way through this song, we had helped to “rock Harry to sleep.

Check out our related story at Uncommon Promise


Weary one, day is done
Drift off to sleep
Tired eyes say goodbyes
Then slumber deep

Rocking chair, arms worn bare
From years of holding on
Gentle motion back and forth
On creaking floors

Rocking chair take me where
Cares fade to memory
Soothing sounds around me
Lullaby of pine and oak
Wood on wood

Carry me home
To the place where I find contentment
Show me the way
Give me a calm tomorrow
Offer me grace
Open my eyes and renew innocence
Wonder and awe

Rocking chair, always there
Exhausting hour after hour
Heavy head nods off to rest
As breathing slows

Rocking chair showing wear
Fingers cease holding on
Wistful worries fall away
Lullaby in slow-motion
Hand on hand

Spirit me home
To the place where I find contentment
Show me the way
Give me a calm tomorrow
Offer me grace
Cover my eyes and release innocence
Wonder and awe

Weary one, day is done
Drift off to sleep
Tired eyes say goodbyes
Then slumber deep


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 - Harry Martlage


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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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