It’s All About Arthur 

I never thought about age differences thirty-three years ago when I married Arthur.  Somehow when you are really young age difference matters, then it disappears in adulthood, and suddenly the awareness reawakens as you get older. It really is a strange dicothemy.

My husband is thirteen years older than I am and when we got married, I didn’t even think about our age differences. My parents were ten years apart and it worked out just fine for them.

It was only  when we celebrated Arthur’s ninety-first birthday, that I realized how lucky I am. All of his friends are gone and he is standing alone and quite healthy in his nineties.  The odds are that it could be a quite different story for both of us.  Sometimes I think he has more energy than I do!

To celebrate his milestone I recently interviewed my husband about how it feels to be in his nineties. 

Copyright Sandra Hart©2017. All Rights Reserved 

Backstage In Nashville

When your children grow up and leave the nest the parent/ child dynamics change. No longer under your roof, their lives continue with you in the background; nose pressed to the window of their lives looking in. 

A recent angry force of nature made me leave my nest at an odd time of the year and take refuge with my youngest bird of flight, my son. Hurricane Irma gave him fears his old mum’s nest just might be blown away. So it was that I landed  outside the boundaries of a holiday celebration visit in Nashville with my son and his family. 

It just so happens that Emerson is a platinum awarded singer/ songwriter who spends a lot of time on the road doing what he loves to do; entertain by telling his lyrical stories. Once in awhile if he is performing within driving distance, my husband and I will make the journey to his concerts and a few moments of private time with him.  But in a lifetime that is not much. 

You might say we are distant groupies most of the time, however, this time, my only positive Irma experience is that I was given a performance day  with my son that I would never have had.  

Squeezed within the sixteen day visit of watching my son be a good husband and great father, was a full day of a mother’s heart singing with joy that her son is able to have a satisfying  creative life, doing what he was born to do.  

Can’t get much better than that. Come along with me for a capsule of my day before a concert hall performance of Songs and Stories in Nashville. 

Copyright Sandra Hart©2017

Waltz With Me My Love

Dance. Oh, how I have always loved dancing, don’t you? By myself as a child, or in the arms of a lover nothing is closer to heaven than lightly swirling around to music that makes my heart sing. Waltz, foxtrot, jitterbug, the monkey or rumba, it doesn’t matter to me.

Emerson Hart©and Tonic

Song and dance have been with us far back in recorded human history and has been an important part of celebratory rituals. It’s so true that dance is a way to find yourself and loose yourself at the same time.  

Unless, that is, your heart is dancing a clumsy two step in your chest. Dancing with your feet is one thing, but a dancing heart is another.  

Unfortunately, I was born with extra electrical pathways that under certain circumstances cause my heart to palpitate and loose sinus rhythm. These unwelcome ‘dances’ began in my twenties, but since my heart was otherwise basically healthy, I just had to tolerate this non-synchronized orchestra that lived in my chest. 

It became a way of life for me until in the 90’s a new procedure called  radio frequency ablation was developed to eliminate extra pathways in the heart. Tiny cathodes are run through the groin veins to ablate the dancing pathways. At the time it sounded scary to me, but each 12 hour episode of rhumba were scarier, so I opted to have the ablation.

Now, one thing they didn’t realize, or take into consideration then is that those electrical nerve pathways can grow back. So here I am once again saying goodbye to my heart’s unruly dance, one week into recovery from updated modern medical advances in electrophysiology and radio frequency ablation. 

My procedure lasted about three hours and I was released the next day. My doctor showed me a photograph of my heart with the ablation points and it looked like a pearl necklace all around my heart. He said when they thought they were through, adrenaline administered would show other electrically charged pathways. I was a dancing fool inside my chest!

So far, I am following the doctor’s orders and not lifting anything over 10 pounds or bending over and just taking things easy for a few weeks. He told me I might have increased dances in my chest, perhaps for as long as three months while my heart is healing, but already they are short little tap dances that do encourage me everything is healing just fine. 

The pinpoint scarred areas created by the cauterization, once healed, will block and interrupt those crazy dancing impulses by taking off their tap shoes and sending them into retirement.  

Trust me, the next dance I do I hope it will be with only my feet and with someone I love.  

©Copyright Sandra Hart 2017                            

All Rights Reserved

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Growing Wings Of Their Own

( Author Note: As former Romper Room Teacher and Pittsburgh CBS affiliate anchor, my children began their lives with Romper Room and Mr. Rogers as their ‘normal’ family. We relocated with my late husband to New Jersey 43 years ago, but no escaping for them – their friends here in New Jersey always remembered me as the lady on Romper Room.)

Growing Wings Of Their Own
It has almost been 20 years since one of my children took his sisters out from under the ‘Romper Room Mom’ shadow they had been living with for most of their lifetime. A new dimension was added to our lives and nothing would ever be the same again.
In 1996 my Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey singer/songwriter son, Emerson Hart, and his band Tonic released their first album, Lemon Parade, which rocketed to multi-platinum status and garnered him awards, including the Billboard Award for the #1 most played song on rock radio.
What followed in the ensuing 19 years would be world tours, six Tonic albums, two Grammy Nominations, ASCAP Award, movie soundtracks, two successful solo albums and concerts in war zones entertaining our American troops – even being knocked off of his feet by a bomb blast while the band was staying at one of Sodom Hussein’s Palaces in Iraq.
Springsteen. Bon Jovi. Both New Jersey icons, were already firmly established within the 80’s Rock frenzy by the time Emerson and Tonic came along. But the ‘new kid’ on the block from New Jersey, the late ’90’s talent entry, came into the game like gangbusters when music tastes were were changing. Emerson was on the tail end of Rock’s biggest roll, but he and Tonic have survived.
So have his sisters. Each of them with their own quiet, or not so quiet victories growing up and out from under the ‘Romper Room Mom’ memories.
So a toast from parents to our children and their victories growing up and out from under our wings. A toast for 20 more quiet and maybe not so quiet years!

To The Moon Alice!

Selling a house is combined with the good and the bad. The good would be all of the memories that are stored where you live and the bad is going through everything and sorting out what to keep and what not keep. 

Somehow keeping all of this stuff also helps to keep everyone alive, especially my parents who have passed on, getting rid of their birth certificates and old love letters is very difficult. Even though I know I can’t keep carrying them around in boxes up in the attic – letters that I, sadly, have never made enough time to sit in the corner and read throughly. 

I guess, like  most mothers, including my own, I probably have kept every kindergarten handprint and handmade clothespin Christmas ornament everyone of my children has ever made. 

I just now had quite a chuckle when I looked at the Mother’s Day card my young son Lee made for me. It must’ve been during the PAC man craze because he says he loves me and I’m the best Pac Mom there is.

Inside there was a sweet little poem the future Grammy winning songwriter composed.

Mom you’re great

Mom your true 

Mom I will always love you 

Your son 

Lee 

That probably was one of his first compositions that necessarily was not meant to be a song. Plenty others about truck drivers moving down the road and elementary school crushes started when he was around seven, but this might be his very first and last serious attempt at rhyme for his mother. 

I have to say though I was a little mystified when I noticed the drawing of a space ship at the bottom of his card. 

My son was born in 1969 on the morning the USA landed on the moon, so I am hoping the reference to the rocket ship blasting through space is just that and not a subliminal message that he wanted to send me to the moon! 

Our children are the best reasons to live a long life. Don’t you just love them in spite of rockets sending you into space. I think this card is a keeper. 

Copyright©Sandra Hart 2016. All Rights Reserved

A Twenty Year Journey

  
In 1977 how does an eight year old boy living on the New Jersey shore emotionally survive his father’s mental illness and the news that his paranoid schizophrenic father has been murdered? How does he survive the fact that his body has never been found and there never would be any closure for him? How does he survive the fact that the same genetic predisposition might be his? Music.

  
Well, that little boy grew up to be the lead singer/ songwriter of one of the few multiplatinum, Billboard awarded and twice Grammy nominated rock bands of the 90’s to survive and thrive when most have gone into oblivion. No big PR firms, trashing of hotel rooms, or over-the-top pyrotechnic concerts; just plain great lyrics and music written and performed from his heart that have given him venues full of loyal fans for 20 years in both his solo and band’s career.

  

That band is Tonic and the musician/composer is Emerson Hart. Everyone has known his songs, but until his solo career, in spite of his success and awards in singing and writing for Tonic, movies and television, who recognized the name ‘Emerson Hart’? Although Tonic was a force in the music arena, it was not until 2004 after the release of his first solo album “Cigarettes and Gasoline” and his ability to talk about his father through his music and interviews did he start getting recognized for his songs everyone had been singing for years.
  
Along with Emerson’s songwriting success, his Tonic co-founder and lead guitarist, Jeff Russo, has scored several television shows, including the television show, Fargo. They are both musicians with something to say. 

As my son often reminds me, “It’s not always about fame”, but loving what you do and making great music. These musicians, both Emerson and Jeff, have relatable human interest back stories and I am not alone in thinking  that in this digital age Fair Pay for Fair Play must be demanded by music fans to keep all music alive. It is a real issue concerning the plight of the 90’s rock bands who were surging on the cliff of the changing musical tastes of 2000 and now trying to survive through the streaming age.

A Twenty Year Tour with new Tonic material and special re-release of 1997’s Lemon Parade with “If You Could Only See The Way She Loves Me” is planned for 2016. Still standing after all these years. 

If you are a fan of keeping great rock alive and want to celebrate this milestone year for Tonic, check out the links below.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2016. All Rights Reserved

http://www.pledgemusic.com/tonic

wmeclients.com/music/contemporary/Tonic Links:

1) 10/2015
Cryptic Rock interview: http://crypticrock.com/interview-emerson-hart-of-tonic/

2). 10/2015 – http://youtu.be/NHpyIsADUxs
3) – 2014 – In Schizophrenia’s Wake, a Son Laments the Father Who Might Have Been | Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (Formerly NARSAD): 
https://bbrfoundation.org/stories-of-recovery/in-schizophrenia%E2%80%99s-wake-a-son-laments-the-father-who-might-have-been
4) – 2010 – Przystanek Woodstock 

5) Kosovo – http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/tonic-to-become-first-band-to-perform-in-kosovo-additional-dates-to-take-them-across-europe-before-returning-to-america-73430172.html
 6) 1997 – Old Vic Chicago – https://www.facebook.com/tonicband/videos/10153481670454590/

THE ART IN POLITICS

  

   

The Art in Politics

I know it sounds silly, but that doesn’t make it not true. Art engenders empathy in a way that politics doesn’t and in a way that nothing else really does.  

Whether it’s a photograph, play, television show, movie, or lyrics in a song – it doesn’t matter. Art has a way of changing things that most factions don’t or can’t. 

Art can bring the conversation to the forefront when politics on sensitive issues builds walls and divides. We can dissect, digest, debate and appreciate Art in whichever form it is delivered and ruminate the message we take away. 

Without malice we can disagree, but Art spawns conversation and changes the temperature of how we talk about divisive issues. 

  

   

The books and plays; To Kill A Mocking Bird, Look Who’s Coming To Dinner, Bird Cage, West Side Story, Schindler’s List, Hamilton (now on Broadway) and, of course, Shakespeare. The list is long. I’m sure you can add to this with some that might have influenced or changed your thoughts about a social issue.

  

Photographs by Robert Capa, Eddie Adams and others that have evoked conversations and changed the world forever. Visuals of events frozen in time that provoke and will stimulate discussions for generations to come. 
  
Lyrics of Dylan, Springsteen, RAP, and, if I might add, the 90’s generation Dylan songwriter, Emerson Hart. These and many more creative or controversial writers bring sensitive issues – war, racism, poverty, dysfunction, mental illness into conversation. 

Art creates change in people’s hearts. It happens slowly, but it does happen. As the wheel of creativity turns, so does the world.

Copyright Sandra Hart© All Rights Reserved