Samuel Murrian's picture

This Classic Madonna Track is a Song For World AIDS Day

December 1 is World AIDS Day. This day means a great deal to many of us. The peak of the AIDS crisis generated some unforgettable songs by major artists that still hold up today. 

Released in 1992 and largely misunderstood at the time, Madonna’s Erotica was called “a post-AIDS album about romance” by Rolling Stone. The effects of the AIDS crisis are felt throughout the record. 

One track in particular stands on World AIDS Day. That’s the penultimate track, In This Life. The slow song, with orchestral arrangements, is about gay men in Madonna’s life she lost to the disease, including singer Martin Burgoyne, who was a good friend and former roommate, when she lived in New York in the early 80s. Burgoyne died from AIDS in 1986 at the age of 23. Christopher Flynn was Madonna's dance teacher and mentor, who died of aids as well. It’s also likely the song was inspired by the AIDS-related death of artist Keith Haring

The haunting track features percussion that many have likened to a doomsday clock, and it samples George Gershwin’s blues lullaby “Prelude No. 2.” 

This track was very much ahead of its time. It probably still is. 

Other key tracks to revisit on World Aids Day include:

Bruce Springsteen’s Oscar-winning “Streets of Philadelphia” from Philadelphia 

“The Last Song” by Elton John

“Boy Blue” by Cyndi Lauper

And “Sing” by Annie Lennox

Below are the full lyrics for “In This Life”

“Sitting on a park bench

Thinking about a friend of mine

He was only 23

Gone before he had his time

It came without a warning

Didn't want his friends to see him cry

He knew the day was dawning

And I didn't have a chance to say goodbye

 

In this life

I loved you most of all

What for?

'Cause now you're gone and I have to ask myself

What for?

What for?

 

Driving down the boulevard

Thinking about a man I knew

He was like a father to me

Nothing in the world that he wouldn't do

Taught me to respect myself

Said that we're all made of flesh and blood

Why should he be treated differently

Shouldn't matter who you choose to love

 

In this life

I loved you most of all

What for?

'Cause now you're gone and I have to ask myself

What for?

 

People pass by and I wonder who's next

Who determines, who knows best

Is there a lesson I'm supposed to learn in this case

Ignorance is not bliss

 

In this life

I loved you most of all

What for?

'Cause now you're gone and I have to ask myself

What for?

 

People pass by and I wonder who's next

Who determines, who knows best

Is there a lesson I'm supposed to learn in this case

Ignorance is not bliss

 

Have you ever watched your best friend die

Have you ever watched a grown man cry

Some say that life isn't fair

I say that people just don't care

They'd rather turn the other way

While we wait for this thing to go away

Why do we have to pretend

Some day I pray it will end

 

I hope it's in this life

I hope it's in this lifetime

I hope it's in this life

I hope it's in this lifetime