Bitter Green Lullabies

Bitter Green Lullabies

2004, 25:00

Three Singers, Large Amplified ensemble and Soundtrack

Written for ASKO Ensemble


Programme notes

Contains ‘Month of Ghosts,’ ‘Mind River’ and ‘High Octane.’


Month of Ghosts (for Ayelet Harpaz)

Rise, O mother of all our sorrows
Oh, mama, you were the one
we could run from the sword but couldn’t dodge the gun
had we only known the whole story, that the talk was for real
had we lived to tell, had we understood the deal
Every priest in Hong Kong, all the thieves in Taipei
knew mama’s blood-stained flightjacket, mama’s glasses from Gucci,
mama’s eyes, two slivers of burning bright gray
all would bear witness to your strength under fire,
to your merciless and radiant nerves of steel
had they lived to tell, had they understood the deal
As I flew low and quiet, through the darkness,
over the Straight of Formosa
Sis should of been looking for the coast
but she was looking towards the sky
We saw ten thousand spirits raining down like black sparrows
as the moon rises up for the seventh time this year
on the eve of the Month of Ghosts
When your friends from Pingtan pulled up to the strip, all smiles and flash
I put out my hand, but they never pulled out the cash
Wulong and diamonds
a twin-engine going nowhere
My rear-view mirror gave the future away
you could measure it in seconds, in a fraction of a day
a fraction of a morning, my cigarette falls to the floor
as my head hit the dashboard, Sis crawled out the other door
How big was your trigger?
the wound would not mend
your first born floated ’round the river bend
How long were your tears?
they got Sis, too, in the end
your second born floated ’round the river bend
So farewell O mother, we bid you goodbye
We’ll drop in next year, sometime in July
Crosshair (for Frances-Marie Uitti)
Strung up
barely breathing
I’ve got my heat-seeking eyes
I’ve got my heat-seeking eyes
I’m slip-
Strung out
barely sleeping
I play this speed junkie lullaby
With my heat-seeking eyes
I’m slipping past your guard
I’m crawling through a passage
whose walls are cold and hard
Black and red are the hottest colors on the earth
black and blue are the colors I wore at birth
Between the Black and the Adriatic, your kingdom lies in wait
but the fingers are trembling on your hand of fate
Telephone rings
it’s you on the line
“”I can’t sleep from all that racket
you’re making all the time.””
In the stairway, curved and narrow
to your door, one floor below
Must be the buzz of faulty wiring
that drives you to be so
When I grabbed your head with my right hand
your long, brown hair with my left
I took my bow, so long and narrow
and played this song upon your head
Mind River (for Jaap Blonk)
Du nächtig todeskranker [Mile: I’m]
dort auf des Himmels [style some day.]
dein Blick, so fiebernd [you heart]bannt mich
[where]frem de Melo[goin’ your way:]
An unstillbarem Liebesleid stirbst
du [drifters, off to] Sehnsucht, tief [world
to] nächtig todeskrank[we’re waitin’ ’round]
dein Blick, so [bend,] bernd ü[breaker, you]
frem de Me[leberry friend,]
de Melo[berry] Blick, [where]fiebernd [you’re goin,’
I’m übergroß, [bend] mich,
[We’re] [waitin’] [wider than] [wherever you’re] [world.]
[We’re] [way:] [where-] [wider] [world.
There’s] [wide-] [to see the world] [world to] [world.
[There’s] [after the same] [wide-]bergroß, [way:] bannt [world] bernd
[We’re] bernd [where-] bannt [wait-] Blick, [wide-] bes [end]
[waitin’ ’round] des Himmels schwarzem Pfühl.
Den Liebsten, der [I’m] Sinnenrausch gedankenlos
zur Liebsten, [goin’,]
Den Liebsten, der [I’m] Sinnenrausch gedankenlos
[your] Liebsten [goin’,]
Den Liebsten, der [I’m] Sinnenrausch ge-[dreammaker,
you] Liebsten [goin’,] [goin’]
belustigt deiner Strahlen Spiel,
dein [Huckle-]bleiches, qual ge-[bend, my Huckle-]bornes Blut,
[River and] nächtig [berry friend,] deskranker
[Moon Riv-]ker [and me.]
Speed of Light (for Edgard Varése)
Ranger 8 and Ranger 9 crashed into the moon
didn’t you see their snapshots of that waterless lagoon?
pictures full of silence,
holes the size of Kansas
when they never made it back, I thought we’d messed it up for good
bad dreams fall out of the sky, just like I said they would
whoosh, whoosh
what a starry night
gotta catch up to the sp-sp-speed of light
I’m getting moonsick and homesick over you
the smell of stardust always makes me blue
a moonbeam is my rudder,
a waterlily my boat
the big wide screen horizon, it seemed like a good idea at the time
Forget your date with the brave new world, get out the vodka and the lime
whoosh, whoosh
what a starry night
gotta catch up to the sp-sp-speed of light
push, push
push me into flight
gotta catch up to the sp-sp-speed of light
whoosh, whoosh
com’n, hold me tight
we’re gonna live forever at the sp-sp-speed of light
as we slowly fall to pieces over a thousand years
one by one, each part’s replaced ’til nothing’s what it appears
my future’s set on rewind, I jump forward into my past
oh, saint augustine
oh, doctor nerve
oh, mama
its all over and over and over and over and over…

© 2005 voLsap Music, Amsterdam