words and music by Steve Schalchlin

I consider this one of my "mad songs." I was slightly insane while writing it. It came along during the big month at Stan Freeman's apartment. I was a bit out of my mind at this point. I wan't feeling very well and the drugs I was taking were making me a bit crazy.

I was also up to "here" with phony cures and false promises. I was failing on the first protease inhibitor. My body was falling apart. My stomach was continually grinding away and I was just "sick of this disease controlling my life," as Gideon puts it in TLS.

I called Jimmy from Stan's and was complaining. He said, "Why don't you write a song about all these promises and cures and call it 'Everybody's Friend?'"

I quickly wrote down that title and in a mad moment of absolute frustration (something I wasn't aware of at the time), wrote the angriest lyric of my career. It's bitter and sarcastic and mean. (Just like me).

The title became "Somebody's Friend" and at first we performed this song passing around the lead vocal like we do in "The Group." I kept complaining that it felt like a campfire song and was without power.

Also, I didn't like the piano accompaniment. It was too wimpy. So, I rearranged the piano to reflect what I had done with David Robyn at the Troubadour (although now that I think about it, I think this was changed before we went to New York even though Jimmy HATED what I played.)

As we were preparing for our transfer to the 47th Street Theatre, Jimmy and I decided the song would be stronger coming from a single source and since Vicki didn't have any solos, and since we had Amy Coleman and her leatherbound vocal chords, it felt right.

By the way, Jimmy and I both claim credit for giving the solo to Amy but it was really my idea. :-) We took Amy up into her studio and while Jimmy listened from the other room, we restructured the song for her. Best idea *I* ever had. hehe.

Somebody's friend took a trip to Chinatown
Somebody's friend got secret herbs
Somebody's friend got cured of HIV
but when I ask if I could meet somebody's friend
they say it's not my friend
It's a friend of somebody's friend

When I was first diagnosed, I would receive at least three calls a week from people ABSOLUTELY had a cure for AIDS. They'd describe how this person was so sick and then suddenly they were totally well.

So, I'd say, "Hey, this sounds great! When can we meet?"

They'd say, "Well, it was a guy I heard on the radio..." (or in a meeting or in a magazine or on TV). I cannot tell you how often this happened. And it would always be some clinic in Germany or Mexico or China or Japan -- some expensive treatment in some other country, as if I even had two dimes to press together to make such a trip or pay for these treatments.

After awhile, I just got very short tempered with anyone who told me of new cures or therapies. I really wanted this song to say, "I know you think you're helping but you're TORTURING us. Just go back to driving a truck or whatever you do and let us die in peace."

Somebody's friend tried moonstone therapy
Somebody's friend tried some new drug
that came from Cleveland
drawn from a bug they found in England

I played this song once from someone with a very literal mind. He stopped me and said, "I don't remember a therapy from Cleveland...


Somebody's friend got cured of HIV
but when I ask if I could meet somebody's friend
they say it's not my friend
It's a friend of somebody's friend

This next part is one of those flashes of insanity that came from out of the clear blue sky. After I wrote it, I immediately started calling people and reading it out loud to them.

Somewhere down in South America
There's an HIV-free town
In the town there's an HIV-free circus
With an HIV-free clown

Can we say bitter? Can we say sarcastic?

Who performs for all the HIV-free children

I was watching a 20/20 type show featuring a man who had invented this big electrico-magnetico machine for curing a particular illness. He had a little girl about 7 years old with him. He was telling her that if people would just send in a million bucks or more, he'd cure her with his machine.

I never hated anyone so much in my entire life. I detested this man using a child as a prop for his crackpot idea and I hated that he was inferring to her that all us viewers didn't love her enough to send our money.

It was the most immoral thing I have ever witnessed. Using a child that way.

Who performs for all the HIV-free children
Where the HIV-free party never ends
And I'm thinking I would really like to be
Somebody's friend

The final chapter in almost all the "cure" stories was the same. I'd hear about this person later on and they'd be dead from that disease they were cured of.

Somebody's friend just got pneumonia
Somebody's friend might die today
Do I guess I won't depend on somebody's friend
and that'll be easy 'cause it's not my friend

It's a friend of somebody's friend.

Quick story: The truth is I hadn't realized this was an angry lyric. I thought I was just being funny. In fact, I thought all the songs were just comedy. But the true nature of them began to reveal itself during the Currican Theatre auditions.

We had this guy in who was reputedly a rock and roll artist from Canada. He was given a script but not the music so the only thing he knew about the songs were the lyrics. He came into the audition and asked, "Is this a punk rock musical?"

"What?" we asked.

He said, "Back in Canada I hung out with some punk rockers and they never wrote anything half as angry as these lyrics."

When I played him the music, so sweet and gentle, he became a bit unnerved. It just felt strange to him that he had been picturing one thing and got another.

But frankly, I think a punk rock setting for these lyrics would be a disaster. It would be like piling anger on top of anger and would be too much. I like opposites in music. In fact, if you think about it, "Somebody's Friend" has a melody like a kid's song.

The opposing information of words and music is part of the reason why people can listed to the songs over and over again. The music lends irony to the blunt lyric.

Just my opinion, of course. I could be wrong.

NEXT: At Least I Know What's Killing Me.

BACK to list of songs.

Somebody's Friend copyright 1996 by See No Evil/Lil Shack O Tunes ASCAP