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This song was written after spending time with Pietro at their little beach house at Forte di Marmi on the Italian coast. He showed us some photos of friends, describing who they were. He came to a particular photo and said that it was of his pal Alessandro, and that the woman next to him didn’t matter anymore, since she is no longer in relationship with Alessandro. She was “out of the picture,” he said, and with that he picked up a pair of scissors and literally cut her from the picture. We were amused about his actions, but later reflected about how we routinely take people out of the picture when they no longer contribute.

At the same time we were assembling the many pieces of our own lives as we engaged in this new journey. Some old friends were no longer in the picture; new ones showed up. We envisioned our life as a shoebox tucked away on the top shelf where we would periodically rummage through the scraps to rediscover an old picture or find a new one. The ability to swap out the pieces and parts, to replace old perspectives with new, helped us to visualize our process of dynamic change.

Check out our related story at Uncommon Promise


In a dusty old shoebox
Filled with pictures and stashed high on a shelf
Lid slides; inside, take another good look at myself

Spilling onto the table
Moving near the window for better light
Eyes squint, a hint: something there
Something not quite right

A few well-chosen changes
Make them fit my frame
And I tell myself
It’s basically the same

Sharp scissors follow
A coincidental tear
Clipping each detail
No longer needed there
No longer there

Familiar scenes, the story’s mine
Imaginary moments captured in time
I write and read my picture diary
The story of me

In a dusty old shoebox
Filled with pictures and stashed high on a shelf
Lid slides; inside, take another good look at myself

In a dusty old shoebox


from Where I Need to Be, track released June 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 - Pietro Quagli and his photo


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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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