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TikTok makes old new again

THE WASHINGTON POST – Morton “Mort” Block was smitten with someone he met on the beach in Atlantic City in 1958, but he was worried she might not feel the same way.

“I knew she was it – she was the one for me,” said Block, who was then 19 and an amateur trumpet player. “So I decided to put my feelings down in a letter, then I thought, ‘Why not make it into a song?’”

He never dreamed that 64 years later My Love would become a hit after his grandson urged him to have it recorded and released on TikTok with 1960 honeymoon footage of his wife, Susan Weber Block.

“Hard to put into words how incredible it is to drop my first single at 82 years old!” he captioned the footage.

But before that happened, his grandson introduced him to TikTok.

“TikTok! I had no clue what that was,” Block said. “I thought it was something a clock did.”

The love song that was recorded by his grandson Matt Block, 31, with a group of jazz musicians has now been viewed online more than 1.5 million times since March 18, said Morton Block, who has amassed about 15,000 TikTok followers.

“It’s been a nice surprise to see my little song come full circle,” he said.

Morton Block at a jam session with his grandson, Matt Block, at his home in Philadelphia. PHOTOS: THE WASHINGTON POST
Morton and Susan Block in the 1960s

Morton was a 19-year-old Navy petty officer third-class serving aboard the USS Hazelwood destroyer in the North Atlantic when he sat on the deck to put his thoughts about Susan Weber, then 17.

He ultimately decided not to mail Weber the song, and it turns out, it wasn’t necessary. She said yes to Block’s proposal when he came home to Philadelphia on leave in 1959. They were married the following year.

Morton performed My Love several times for his new bride on his trumpet, then tucked the music and lyrics away in a drawer, where they sat for the next 60 years.

“I’ve played in several jazz bands, and every now and then we’d play the song,” Morton said.

“I’ve also played it on the piano throughout our marriage, but for the most part, it became a nice family memory.”

It could have remained that way.

Then in 2013, Matt Block – who also plays the trumpet – came to visit his grandparents at their home in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles from Philadelphia.

Matt runs a Brooklyn-based jazz label with his brother Jacob Block. Matt was taught to play the trumpet by his grandfather at age 10, and they often have jam sessions together, he said.

When his grandfather decided to pull the sheet music for My Love from his drawer, Matt said he immediately felt a pull to share the song.

“I said, ‘Poppy, we need to release this, we should get it recorded,’” he recalled. Over the next several years, he and his grandfather continued to discuss the possibilities.

Then last summer, Matt and several musician friends finished recording My Love and other songs for an album. Matt also produced the album and recruited jazz vocalist Benny Benack III to sing the lyrics.

Then he persuaded his grandfather to start making TikTok videos about his life.

“Matt wanted me to create a persona and build up a following,” Morton said. “Making the videos became a fun thing for a guy in his 80s to do.”

He said he’s enjoyed sharing stories about his time in the Navy and how to care for a trumpet and even his excitement over finally seeing success as a songwriter.

When My Love was released in March, Morton said he was delighted to learn that of young TikTok fans were enjoying his debut single.

“This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your gift,” one teen commented.

“Kinda gave me hope that I’m never too old to start something,” wrote another.

“Susan and I couldn’t believe it when we listened to it for the first time,” Morton said. “It was really emotional – it took us right back to the day we met.”

“We found there’s more meaning to the song now that we’re older,” added Susan, 81. “The song has been made special again.”

She remembers vividly the day Morton approached her on the beach in Atlantic City, where they were both on vacation with friends.

He asked if she could line him up with a date, a common practice at the time, she said. Susan thought about finding a friend for him, then changed her mind.

“I’d already said I’d go to dinner with somebody else, but I thought (Morton) was a better prospect than the one I was going out with,” she said. “So I cancelled that date, and Morton drove me back to Philadelphia that night in his convertible.”

One year later, they were going steady. “He would come home on leave and get lost in his music, and we’d go out dancing,” she said. “I didn’t want to get tied down, but I eventually changed my mind. We really fell in love.”

The couple raised two sons. Now retired, they still regularly dance to Barry White and their own special song, said Susan.

“More than anything, we love how the song has helped our grandkids to know more about us and our lives,” she said.