The project has ignited a 'burst of life based on ideas I've had for 60, 70 years,' said Mort.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 22, 2022. It has since been updated.
Navy petty officer third class Morton "Mort" Block was 19 when he met the then-17-year-old Susan Weber on the beach while on shore leave. It was love at first sight for him. "She took my breath away," recalled Block, now 82, in an interview with PEOPLE. "I knew she was the one. But I wasn't sure she felt the same way about me. I thought, 'I'm going to write my feelings down and put them to music.'" As a trumpet player who dabbled in jazz groups from time to time, the lovesick sailor already had a melody kicking around his head.
While serving on the USS Hazelwood destroyer in the North Atlantic in 1958, Block started putting lyrics to the melody in his head. "My love," he wrote—the same words he used to begin his letters to Susan—"I miss you more each day..." Block explained that his plan "was to play the song and sing for her when we got together again. I was hoping she'd see my passion. It was a little Shakespearean." Luckily, his extremely romantic gesture did the trick. "He wooed me with music," admitted Susan, 81, adding that it didn't hurt that the 6-foot-4-inch sailor also "looked sexy in his uniform."
The couple tied the knot on June 12, 1960, and "My Love"—the song Mort penned for her while smitten at sea—still holds a special place in the hearts of the Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, couple and their family. "He would play that on the piano all through our marriage," Susan revealed. However, they never expected that the song would one day win the hearts of millions across the world. In March, "My Love" became a social media sensation after Mort and Susan's record label exec grandson Matt Block released it as a single.
A TikTok video of the song playing over black and white footage of Susan from their Miami Beach honeymoon has over a million views and 432,600 likes. "It's unbelievable. I never thought anything like this would ever happen, especially at this age," said Mort, who has two sons and five grandchildren with Susan. "It's like a fresh start." Although he went on to make a career as a kitchen and bath designer, Mort's heart has always been in music. He played in jazz bands throughout the years and as a gift to himself on his 80th birthday, got a tattoo of the beloved trumpet that he's owned since he was 12.
He and Matt—who learned the trumpet from his grandfather—have spent hours playing horns together over the past several years and it was during one such jam session that Matt unearthed the sheet music for "My Love" that had been tucked away in a drawer. "He said, 'Poppy, I think we should do an album,'" recounted Mort. "It'd still be sitting in the drawer if it wasn't for him." Matt, who co-founded La Reserve Records along with his brother Jacob and a friend, gathered jazz session musicians and jazz singer Benny Benack III to record the tune.
"It's so deeply meaningful — it tells my grandparents' love story," Matt said of the slow, Sinatra-esque ballad. "I feel like it's this piece of history that we brought to life." However, Mort revealed that it's just the beginning. A full-length album titled "Strange Harbors" is due to be released to be later this year featuring songs that he and Matt co-wrote. The project has ignited a "burst of life based on ideas I've had for 60, 70 years," said Mort, who has begun writing new music again. "It's inspired me," he added, "and renewed my purpose."