Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund


Upstream - (2012)    

Carl Sandburg

for baritone and piano


The strong men keep coming on.
They go down shot, hanged, sick, broken.
They live on, fighting, singing, lucky as plungers.

The strong men ... they keep coming on.
The strong mothers pulling them from a dark sea, a great prairie, a
        long mountain.

Call hallelujah, call amen, call deep thanks.
The strong men keep coming on.

4 pages, circa 3' 40"

Carl Sandburg


The text is found in American Poetry, 1922, A Miscellany. For other settings to Sandburg's poetry, click here.



The text is short, and within the imagery of poetry directly to the point. The world needs strong men in every generation to struggle against tyranny in too many forms. Sandburg writes as a praise and devotion with such words as "hallelujah" and "amen." The long arches from pianissimo to a grand forte are built entirely over the pedal D, two chords in additive structures building to high points.



The form is a simple ABA, with the center section a contrast as the images of mothers of such strong men are invoked. Thereafter, the crescendo of thanks renews itself to a thunderous final chord.



The score for Upstream is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.