Saturday, October 27, 2007

Santorum's daughter inspires C&W song

Santorum's daughter inspires C&W song

Country music is usually about the basics: hearth and home, kin and flag.

Turns out it can also be about the weeping daughter of a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. (What word rhymes with Santorum?)

Last week, country singer Martina McBride released the single "For These Times" from her album Wake Up Laughing, with a verse inspired by Sarah Maria Santorum, Rick's 9-year-old daughter.

On election night 2006, the Republican Santorum, you may remember, was defeated by Democrat Bob Casey Jr. Sarah Maria, then 8, clutched a doll and cried inconsolably. The image was captured by news cameras and became a much-viewed and debated item on the Web.

When Sarah Maria started crying, singer/songwriter Leslie Satcher, who knows and admires Santorum, was watching, chagrined.

"Rick was giving this speech how he loved Pennsylvania, and the cameras zoomed in on this little girl," Satcher said Thursday by phone from a Nashville recording session. "I said, 'They're not even paying attention to Rick, and they're just showing us this girl hurting for him.' It spoke to our times. We forget people are grieving and forget to give them space."

A few months later, Satcher said, she was in the process of writing songs for McBride's then-forthcoming album, when she attended a church service. Her pastor held up a Bible and said, "For these times in which we live, you are going to need this book."

Satcher said she quickly wrote those words into the Bible she was carrying, then recalled Sarah Maria and penned the song at 3 the next morning. Within four days, McBride had recorded it.

"It's not so much about Rick's daughter, as how everything is on TV, how everything is media-driven, and how people don't have much privacy because of that," Satcher said.

The first verse references Sarah Maria:

In these times in which we live

Where the worst of what we live

Is laid out for all the world on the front page

And the sound of someone's heartbreak

Is a sound bite at the news break

With a close shot of the tears rollin' down their face

Blessed be the child who turns a loving eye

And stops to pray

For these times in which we live

The other verses are about U.S. soldiers and religious faith.

"I thought it was a cute thing," Santorum said in an interview Thursday. "My daughter loves Martina McBride and is a real fan."

Santorum said he made a special moment out of telling Sarah Maria about the McBride song, informing her as he recorded her on a video camera.

Once again, the girl cried, as Santorum knew she would. "I wanted to record her reaction," he said. "We do that for family movies."

Don't look for his video on YouTube. "Not for public consumption," Santorum said.

Santorum said he is more protective of his family since the vitriolic Web reaction to Sarah Maria's tears on the night of the election loss.

"Cry me a river, little girl, your dad sucks," was typical fare from liberal bloggers opposed to Santorum's conservative stances on abortion and gay rights. Others called out Santorum for "using" Sarah Maria and his other children as props on election night.

"You're a complete jerk when you write stuff like that," Santorum said. "They're picking on my little girl, saying things like, 'I never got so much joy from an 8-year-old's tears.' You don't do that.

"And I wasn't trotting out my family. I'd lost. To not have had my family out there would have been inappropriate."

Santorum said he's a big fan of McBride's, a singer who has recorded message songs like 1993's "Independence Day," an anti-domestic-violence song about leaving an abusive husband.

McBride did not know until well after recording "For These Times," however, that the song had its genesis in Santorum's election loss, Satcher said.

"Martina's response to me was she was appreciative," Satcher said. "She wanted a social-commentary song. It's like the song was born that night I wrote it for her."

Satcher said she has written for other major country artists, including George Strait, Vince Gill, Reba McIntire - "everybody but Garth Brooks."

She writes, she said, for "the majority of Americans, who are traditional, faith-based people. This song speaks to that."

Santorum, who will begin writing a biweekly column for The Inquirer next month, said he'd first met Satcher at a fund-raising event for former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist (R., Tenn.).

"He is a gracious, gentlemanly person," Satcher said. "Native Pennsylvanians should be very proud of Rick Santorum."

Hear Martina McBride's song "For These Times" via


Contact staff writer Alfred Lubrano at 215-854-4969 or








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