Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund

Music and Texts of  GARY BACHLUND

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Songs for the Victims of AIDS - (1991) 

Gary Bachlund

Five songs for medium or low voice and piano 

i.    Clever Death, Stupid Death   [ 3 pages, circa 2' 00" ]

Clever Death's enormous voice
Reads the lists and takes his choice.
Lover Death, he makes his date,
Coming quickly; don't be late!
Lady Death? She's quite desirous;
Johns rent love and but the virus.
Doctor Death is not so spry,
Sprinkling deadly blood awry.
Needle Death just shares his track,
Going one way, never back.

Baby Death with baby cries
Comes too soon to say goodbyes.
Question Death? Whens, whys and hows?
Questions such as Death allows.
Farmer Death's own harvest home
Fills the reaper's catacomb.
Stupid Death goes blindly one!
Stupid Death goes blindly one!

ii.    It was a cross  [ 3 pages, circa 1' 30" ]

It was a cross,
A red, red double cross
That spread the virus brigades.
It was the price,
Too great a sacrifice
To test the blood with AIDS.
Prevention versus cost?
Patiently, cost won.
Death by memorandum,
Incredibly dumb.
The real cost?
A dark red holocaust
Transfused in bloody trades,
Because a cross
Became a double cross,
And used the blood with AIDS.
Prevention versus cost?
Death by memorandum!

iii.    Room A-460   [ 2 pages, circa 2' 00" ]

Rest? How? Question "Requiem?"
How many neighbors? How many friends?
How many children must come to their ends?
Inside that room, A-460,
Beyond pain and feeling he lies,
Tired, body and soul,
Sleeping in a deep, deep sleep.
Inside that room, Palm Sunday morning,
He yields to his infections and dies,
Tired bodies and souls
Weeping for his last deep sleep.

iv.    Yesterday   [ 2 pages, circa 1' 40" ]

Now I lay me down to sleep.
Pray the Lord my soul to keep.
While I dream, recall the joys of yesterday.
Every day, think on me and yesterday.
Now I lay me down to die,
With a gentle last goodbye.
Dream with me that once I lived in yesterday.
Every hour, every day, think on me and yesterday.

v.    A Litany of Finger Pointing   [ 3 pages, circa 1' 25" ]

Who's responsible for the plague?
Who's responsible to act up? Act up!
Who's responsible is rather vague.
All that fear is backed up.
What about those shameless gays?
Folks condemn their blameless ways.
As for all those righteous straights,
AIDS infects their one-night dates.
Who's responsible? Who's to blame?
How about those illegal Latins?
Even babies swathed in satins?
How about those late-night cruisers?
How about those damned drug abusers?
Who's responsible? Who's to blame?
How about the government?
The medical establishment?
Who's responsible? Who's to blame?
Where's the lamb who will serve as
Every sacred cow's a lifeboat!
AIDS takes all as equal fellows,
Whether blacks, browns, or whites
or yellows!
Who's responsible? Who's to blame?
What of promiscuity?
The sex-meets-death congruity?
Pass the guilt and shun the shame.
God forbid, we're all to blame?
Oh, is God responsible for the plague?
Is God responsible to act up? Act up!
Else who's responsible is rather vague.
Who's responsible?
You're responsible?
They're responsible?
We're responsible?
God's responsible?
Who's responsible?

v.   The Quilt   [ 1 page, circa 1' 30" ]

Name the names,
Remember them and pray.
And pray for the day when we
Patch the quilt with no more names.
Death has had its fun and games.
Ryan, Roger, Jesús and Ariel.
Zachary, Greg, Christina, Ann.
Name the names.
Built to catch those dying flames.
Naming saints in fabric frames.
Michael, Larry, Coreen and Jennifer.
Angelo, Dane and Ali. John.


[ Total duration - 15 pages, circa 10' 05" ]


These songs and their texts were my original sketches for the complete Requiem for the Victims of AIDS, which served as my masters thesis in composition at UCLA in 1991, which was debuted at All Saints Church, Pasadena, under the musical direction of Timothy Howard.


As with the normal process of writing words and music, the words came first, as I was reviewing the various news and perspectives of the growing epidemic of HIV infection and AIDS in many different communities around the world. Time Magazine had a line in one of the early articles about AIDS, which said simply, "A sense of crisis is difficult to maintain." This has proven sadly prophetic.


In fact, the "sense of crisis" has become the sweet-sounding rhetoric of "living with AIDS," which, while optimistic, remains a significant burden and a terminal disease for most victims, especially in poverty-stricken countries where drug therapies are economically untouchable.