Senator Orrin Hatch, the conservative Utah Republican, has written hundreds of songs on patriotic themes - with such titles as "Freedom's Light" and "I Love Old Glory" - as a way of paying tribute to his country.
But his latest trip down Tin Pan Alley had an even more personal resonance: Hatch said he was asked by several colleagues to put down his feelings about a very close friend who is facing a serious illness. The friend is the legendary liberal Ted Kennedy, and the colleagues are Democrats who envision having the song played as a tribute to Kennedy at next month's Democratic convention - and as a living example of a brotherhood that transcends party lines.
The result, "Headed Home," is a lilting ballad that even its author can't repeat without tearing up. The lyrics, he said, refer to Kennedy's heroic return to the Senate where Kennedy has served for almost 46 years and Hatch for 32.