Souvenir of a Dad’s Lullaby

A ’20s hit triggers memories of a musical father who sang his 10 children to sleep each night.

Today’s story appeared originally in The Wall Street Journal. Barbara Corcoran spoke with reporter Marc Myers. Barbara and Marc kindly allowed Savvy Dad to share this story.

I know that I seem tough on TV’s “Shark Tank,” often tearing into business pitches, but deep down I’m really a softie. Growing up in Edgewater, N.J. in the mid-1950s with five sisters and four brothers, I loved listening to my father sing in the living room every Wednesday night with his barbershop quartet. The song he sang that touched me most was “Heart of My Heart.”

Barbara Corcoran

Barbara and her Dad

My father loved music more than anything else. A printing press foreman in Newark, N.J., he had taught himself to play guitar, piano and accordion. He also sang tenor with a group of guys he worked with and always sang at family gatherings. When I was about 5 years old, my father began singing “Heart of My Heart” each night to put us all to sleep. But since he couldn’t be in both the boys and girls’ rooms at once, he’d sing live in one and play a tape of him singing the song in the other. The next night he’d switch.

My father had recorded dozens of songs on that tape, but every fifth one was “Heart of my Heart.” The song [by Ben Ryan] was from the ’20s, but the lyrics looked back nostalgically on an earlier time:

“Too bad we had to part / I know a tear would glisten / if once more I could listen / to that gang that sang ‘Heart Of My Heart.'”
Barbara Corcoran

The Four Aces

I know the Four Aces and many others recorded the song, but — it’s funny — I’ve never heard any of them. I used to sing “Heart of My Heart” to my son every night until he told me to stop because it was weird. My daughter is 7, and she still loves hearing it before falling asleep.

I didn’t give much thought to the original tape my dad made until a few months ago. Both of my parents died earlier this year, and I was visiting my dad’s younger brother Ray in Florida. We began reminiscing, and I mentioned “Heart of My Heart.” Uncle Ray told me he had the tape. Now I’m having the music digitally converted to CDs.

I’m not sure how I’m going to react when I hear my father’s voice singing that song again, but I think it will be a comforting, delicious feeling. It will pull me back in the happiest way. My siblings and I were so loved.

Barbara Corcoran’s credentials include straight D’s in high school and college and twenty jobs by the time she turned twenty-three. It was her next job that would make her one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country when she took a $1000 loan to start The Corcoran Group. As one of the “Sharks” on ABC’s hit TV show, SHARK TANK, Barbara has ponied up her own money and invested in more than a dozen businesses, competing to make those deals for all to see, then shepherding them to success. Her newest book, SHARK TALES, takes you behind the scenes of her life and business and her ‘seen on TV’ venture capitalism. Barbara is famously brash and blunt, bold and courageous, and a brilliant identifier of opportunity and talent (often invisible to others).

The author, Marc Myers, writes frequently on music for the Wall Street Journal and posts daily at He is author of ‘Why Jazz Happened (University of California).’ This story appeared July 26, 2013 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal.

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