Nov 2007
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In 1991 the hip hop trio Salt N Pepa had a big hit with the song "Let's Talk About Sex." A year later they released a version of it with a different focus. The chorus was the same but this time they were now talking about AIDS, and their cassette only single was released only as promo copies.

Keith Haring - Silence = Death (1989)

AIDS obviously affects everyone and not only gay & lesbian artists, but artists from all over the spectrum have been moved to write about it. In this show I endeavored to showcase music dealing with AIDS. There are many aspects of the AIDS crisis I wanted to cover, the emotional areas of grief, anger, sympathy, the political and social approaches, some of the musical history, and a variety of genres, including musicals and choruses. Included are comments from some of this music's creators: Ron Romanovsky, Janis Ian, Dan Martin, Lynn Lavner, Tom Robinson, Doug Stevens, Mary Gauthier, and Mark Weigle.

Part 1 - 57:53

Salt N Pepa - Let's Talk About AIDS (1992)
Automatic Pilot - Safe Livin' In Dangerous Times (1984)
Paul Phillips - comments (2003)
Romanovsky & Phillips - Living With AIDS (1988)
Flirtations - Living in Wartime (1992)
Michael Callen - excerpt from speech at
National Conference on AIDS (1988)

Michael Callen - They Are Falling All Around Me (1996)
Neneh Cherry - I've Got You Under My Skin (1990)
Peter Alsop - Gotta Lotta Livin' to Do (1990)
Lee Lessack - Jonathan Wesley Oliver Jr (1995)
Janis Ian - comments (2001)
Janis Ian - When Angels Cry (1995)
Gregory Gray - Three Minute Requiem (1995)
Rent - Rent (1996)
Team America - Everyone Has AIDS (2005)
Jay Spears - Positive (2002)
Dan Martin comments (2002)
Dan Martin & Lavender Light Gay & Lesbian Choir -
Lay Your Burden Down (1995)

Part 2 - 64:50
Geof Morgan - High Risk (1987)
Lynn Lavner comments (2003)
Lynn Lavner - Such Fine Young Men (1986)
Steve Schalchlin - The Group (2000)
Ten Percent Revue - High Risk for Afraids (1987)
Tom Robinson comments (2004)
Tom Robinson - Blood Brother (1990)
David Campbell - Yard Sale (1997)
Kim Criswell - My Brother Lived in San Francisco (1993)
Doug Stevens comments (2005)
Doug Stevens & the Outband - HIV Blues (1993)
Mary Gauthier comments (2005)
Mary Gauthier - Goddamn HIV (1992)
Rodney Crowell - Wandering Boy (2001)
Reba McEntire - She Thinks His Name Was John (1994)
Michael Callen - The Healing Power of Love (1996)

Part 3 - 61:05
Kinsey Sicks - AZT (1997)
Billi & Patti - Until There Is a Cure (2003)
Mark & Dean - Is It Over Yet? (2000)
Andrew Mellen - RU+ (1990)
Doug Stevens & the Outband - Act Up (1993)
Scott Free - AIDS Dementia (1997)
Dan Bern - Cure for AIDS (1998)
Bruce Springsteen - Streets of Philadelphia (1993)
Down Low - HIV (1998)
Mark Weigle - If It Wasn't Love (1998)
Mark Weigle comments (2002)
Mark Weigle - I Remember (2002)
Keith Christopher - Piece of Lives (1998)
Kirt Kempter - Common Threats (1996)
Williams Brothers - Don't Look Now (1993)
Positive Voices - Greater Than AIDS (1997)

More graphics can be found on the Script Page

Part 1


Perhaps the earliest songs about AIDS came from the San Francisco musical
"The AIDS Show," and two of the songs, "Safe Livin' in Dangerous Times" and
"Rimmin' at the Baths" can be found on the album by Automatic Pilot called
"Back from the Dead," a compilation of most of their early 80s work. Two of my
early queer music heroes, Romanovsky & Phillips touched on the subject more
than once, but I chose "Living With AIDS" and followed it with "Living in Wartime,"
as done by Michael Callen and the Flirtations. Michael's solo album "Legacy" was
released after his death and is a wonderful tribute to his talents. From it I took
"They Are Falling All Around Us," which was written by Bernice Johnson Reagon
(of Sweet Honey in the Rock, and mother of Toshi Reagon).

As a special treat, you can download a complete speech by Michael Callen,
from the National Conference on AIDS, in 1988, by
Clicking Here.



A unique project was "Feeding the Flame: Songs by Men to End AIDS,"
(1990) which featured a number of artists I really respect, like Romanovsky
& Phillips, Tom Wilson Weinberg, John Bucchino, Elliot Pilshaw, Geoff Morgan,
Fred Small, Michael Callen, the Flirtations, and the artist I chose, Peter Alsop,
with is very education song "Gotta Lotta Livin' to Do." Also from 1990 was the
start of the benefit series by the Red Hot Organization. Their "Red Hot + Blue"
CD, featuring a AIDS-relevant lyrics of Neneh Cherry's rendition of "I've Got
You Under My Skin." Below, a who's who of artists contributed to what may
be the best GLBT artist compilation ever released, "A Love Worth Fighting For,"
and three songs from it made this show. Lee Lessack's wonderful version of
"Jonathan Wesley Oliver Jr" can be found both on "ALWFG" and his own
self-titled album.



The breathtaking "When Angels Cry" is found both on "ALWFF" and her own album "Revenge." Gregory Gray is from Ireland but moved to the US and resumed his career, with one release from 1995 having the interesting title of "Euroflake in Silverlake." The most known song from it is "The Pope Does Not Smoke Dope," but I love "Three Minute Requiem." Of course the hit musical "Rent" had the theme of AIDS running all through it, and it was such a hit that it invited parody, which I found in a skit called "Lease" from the movie "Team America" in the form of the song "Everyone Has AIDS." And I love Jay Spears' song "Positive," in that it's the first song I can think of dealing with the very real issue of dating someone who is HIV positive, when you're not.


Again from the album "A Love Worth Fighting For" I took this part's closing song. It's "Lay Your Burden Down," and Dan Martin recorded it several times, on the 1992 cassette "Human Being" by he and his partner Michael Biello, and on the "Chosen Family" cassette in 1996, a concert with Grant King and Robin Burdulis. All are good but I love the extra element given on "ALWFF" by Lavender Light Gospel Choir.


One of my friends, Jed Ryan, asked me, and others, in November 2010, for the purpose of a website he contributes to, to reply to what World AIDS Day means to me. Here's what I wrote:

I feel like I am holding a camera and keep pulling it back, to include more in the image.
As I've been through, during the late 80s and early 90s, the loss of a partner and all
my close friends (unfortunately not a unique experience), I always think of the
personal losses. Then I immediately jump to mourning all those lost in the gay
community and what they could have created for our culture, and then try to
take in what the world has lost. It's a day remembering the grief, anger,
sympathy, activism, education and hope.


Also See Voices for Life

Late Addition, added 9/2020, had I known about it, I would have included it in my show.
I shouldn't need to tell you about Howard Ashman, the brilliant lyricist who with Alan Menchen wrote many Disney hit musicals. This song was a demo....about friends he lost to AIDS, of which he also died.
View the YouTube video, which gives the poignant lyrics.