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Sprechen Sie Filk?:

Upload Date: March 16, 2010

It was hard to decide just where to file this. It isn’t a graphic — although it is certainly fandom-related. And it doesn't really qualify as a publication. Nor has it got anything to do with Harry Potter.

Of course it hasn’t really anything much to do with books I’ve read, or the urban experience, either. But there was room for it here, so here it landed.

Filking has a long tradition. Actually it goes all the way back to the playground and beyond. People have always filked. For those few unfamiliar with the term, “filk” (although they can hardly be unfamiliar with the process), this is the practice of making, up and singing, your own words to pre-existing tunes. It is a very popular... well, I don't know whether you would call it an art, or a sport. In any event a lot of people do it. Elementary school children are one group. Science fiction fans is another. Filking has long been a feature at SF conventions, and the practice generally spills over into just about every pocket of fandom that SF fandom has ever touched.

In the course of a long overdue comprehensive clearout of my apartment, I came across a cache of my old filks (and some even older attempts at writing fiction). The attempts at writing fiction were pretty hopeless, but the filks seemed fairly good (for filks), so I figured I'd post them for the general amusement. They fall into two distinct batches, which I'm listing here in the order they were written.

This first example was intended as an entry for a local Society for Creative Anachronisms contest. The purpose was to write an anthem for the new kingdom of Caid, sometime back in the middle or late 1970s. The Kingdom name, “Caid”, was actually an anagram of the initials of the four founding Baronies; Califia, Angels, Isles, and Dreiburgen. However, one of the Baronesses of the period assured us all that the word was a legitimate one, and meant “fortress” in Arabic.

My entry did not win.

Caid Anthem (to the melody of the Cadgwith Anthem, as arranged by Steeleye Span on their album, ‘All Around My Hat’)

Let us raise up glad voices and sing forth our praises,
To Caid, our fair garland that blooms by the tide.
From the bright sands of Isles to the ports of Califia,
And far inland where Dreiburgen’s mountains span wide.

With these three, our bright bastion, our fair outer bailey,
Join our voices in chorus from from Darachshire’s groves,
From Lyondemere’s shoals and the cantons of Angels,
Out of Heatherwine vales, let its glories be told.

Sing ye patrician Lords and ye valiant, bright Ladies.
Sing ye households and yeomen and fair laughing maids.
Join our hands and our hearts all to build us our kingdom,
And a stalwart foundation now in honor be laid.

Leave our northerly bretheren their woodlands and valleys,
And the kings to the eastward their fields and towers.
We will laugh in goodwill and be not moved to envy,
For the fairest of fortresses, this Caid is ours.

Alternate version: I'm pretty sure that this is the version that was actually submitted. By the time the contest came off Lyondemere had settled on the name of Lyonesse, The canton in the Barony of Angels had adopted the name of Canton of Canyons, and Heatherwine I think had folded. Upon the whole, I think I may prefer the first version.

Let us lift up our hearts and our voices sing praises,
Of Caid, the fair garland that blooms by the tide.
From the bright sands of Isles to the ports of Califia,
And far inland where Dreiburgen’s mountains span wide.

With these three, our bright bastions, our fair outer bailey,
From within echo glories from from Darachshire’s groves,
From Lyonesse shoals and the canyons of Angels,
To the heart of this fortress, and returned to our own.

Sing ye patrician Lords and all valiant, bright Ladies.
Sing ye households and yeomen and bonny fair maids.
We look into laughter to build us our kingdom,
For the strongest foundations in friendship are laid.

Leave our northerly bretheren their woodlands and valleys,
And the kings to the eastward their fields and towers.
We will laugh in goodwill and be not moved to envy,
For the fairest of fortresses, this Caid is ours.

This next one was also for the local S.C.A. This time the contest was to write a battle song. There was a lot of hobby group politics referenced in it. (I don't think Caid was officially a kingdom quite yet, and there was some rankling over the delay. The 2nd verse was not actually meant to be sung.) My entry didn't win this time either.

Battle Hymn of the Fortress (to the melody of the title song of ‘Mother Courage’, a play by Berthold Brecht. I cannot remember who the composer was. It was not Kurt Weil, in any case, but that's all I can say for sure).

Call out your troops,
Caid is stirring,
Mustering leigons
To the fore,
Issuing out
From our great stronghold,
Swords and Halberds
Primed for war

Our southern pride will not be broken,
Nor our will cracked on any field.
Unconquered fortress be our token,
Our independence will not yield!

Caid, awake! Take up your arms,
Prepare to pay all former harms,
Cancel all debts, and clear the way,
The south shall rise to hold the day!

Come Caid troops,
Sell our lives dearly,
We are marching
In the van.
And this is not
The only battle.
Other fields are
Close at hand.

You rival peers, look to your laurels,
All of your talents we too wield.
Ability’s not your sole cartel,
And we can match you in all fields!

Tyrants beware! Caid’s awake!
Rebellion grows within your gates.
Unwaranted, who is to say?
Caid will rise to take the day!

The third here was something that got dashed off at a Barony meeting. Caid was about to become officially become a kingdom, and the King and Queen of the West Kingdom were going to be down for a Christmas revel which Caid was hosting. The Baroness of Angels made a comment in a meeting that the Angels heralds ought to sing the obvious welcome song, so I wrote one.

It wasn't performed. I always seemed to end up with the feeling that I really wasn't one of the members that the Powers That Be particularly wanted to encourage.

Hark the Angels’ Heralds sing
Honoring our new-crowned King.
Piers, Ximena, greet thee fair,
And with them Caid’s royal pair.

Al Caid, his Highness Martin,
Lady Caid, Arabella,
Dove and Gryffon round them soar,
Six Wing-ed seraph sheltering o’er,

Caid’s message here we sing,
Old ties renewed, or severing,
All honor, peace, and friendship bring,
Welcoming now our founder King.

This second batch were done about a decade later in connection with a popular filk group which used to play a number of the SF conventions in the ’80s and ’90s; they called themselves the L.A. Filkharmonics. I was never a member of the group but I knew most of the members from the old Mythopoeic Society, and passed these on to them. I am not sure that any of them were ever performed, since all of them were based on fairly early punk rock tunes, and punk wasn't the Filkharmonics’ style. (It's hard to perform punk a capella.)

Lucasfilms (to the tune of ‘Sugarlight’ from X’s first album)

Lucasfilms, we’re addicts,
Why do you think we came?
You’re etching... great legends
On our brains.
We sharpen up our dreams,
The characters are friends,
Memorizing in-jokes
It’s open-ended.
In the loges
Conciousness expands,
Our memories tensed up... waiting
To get it down.

(chorus)
Lucasfilms, Lucasfilms,
Can you believe—
(We’re) Swallowing one film after another
In these clinics of flickering light!
(repeat chorus)

Lost in Degoba (to the tune ‘Lost in the Supermarket’ by The Clash, from the ‘London Calling’ album) Scansion is imperfect. Quite a few sylables probably need to be swallowed.

I’m all lost in the Degoba swamp,
With escape nowhere I can see.
I dropped my X-wing and now I’m stranded,
Or that’s sure how it seems to me.

I headed here on advice by Kenobi.
It sounded then like a good idee
(idea).
Search out Kenobi’s old Jedi Master
And arrange for him to train me.

So I’m surrounded by snakes and swamp monsters,
Mists are closing in on me,
And this place seems just a wee bit familiar,
That mem’ry nags most unpleasantly.

Ben, it isn’t that I don’t trust you,
But it seems that most certainly
You might have warned me that your old Master
Would stand no higher than my knee!

Yoda’s teaching seems quite topsy-turvy.
— And I mean that quite literally!
In that cave my face seemed to be Vader’s!
And we both know that just simply cannot be!

Now Ben and Yoda are in disagreement.
Though the Force will work strongly through me.
It seems that Yoda will never be happy,
And unanswered questions fill me.

Yoda watches me, disappointed,
R2D2, impatiently,
I feel that Solo and Leah both need me,
Yoda tells me to let it be!

I don't understand how he can think that,
There is something called loyalty.
All he says makes me certain there is still
Something that he’s not telling me.

(Repeat first verse softly)
I'm all lost,
I’m all lost,
I’m all lost,

(*break* spoken) I mean I’m really confused here!

Okay let’s move on to something a little more in the “pop” mode. How about the Go-Gos?

We Got the Force (to the tune for ‘We Got the Beat’ from their ‘Beauty and the Beat’ album)

See the Jedi, loved all throughout space,
Their lightsabers dangling at their waists.
They’re all gone — but the’re not forgot
No they’ll never be lost
(’cause)
They had the Force
They had the Force
They had the Force
Yeah!
They had the Force!

See the Empire wiping out the past,
In a panic that their strength won’t last.
’Cause they deep down know that every bite
Will be added to their cost.
(They)
Can’t fight the Force
Can’t fight the Force
Can’t fight the Force
Yeah!
Can’t fight the Force!

See ourt rebels coming into play,
Ben and Yoda (to) guite us on our way.
Even Vader can’t hold back our day.
We know we can’t be bossed.
(And)
We got the Force
We got the Force
We got the Force
Yeah!
We got the Force!

We got it!

We got the Force!
We got the Force!
We got the Force!
(Everybody join in our fight!)
We got the Force!
(Since you all know that our cause is right!)
We got the Force!
(Can’t fail!) (Come)
We got the Force!
(On, and On, and on!)
We got the Force!
We got the Force!
We got the Force!

(Etc. until you get tired of it)

Another one. Same group, same album. NOT to be confused with the song from ‘West Side Story’.

Tonight (or: The Rowdy’s Revelrout) It should probably be noted that it's more a reflection of the impression that a lot of young fans’ think they are making than they probably actually are. The staff at convention hotels has seen everything.

The masquerade judging is past.
The huckster room is shut down at last.
And parties crop out all around
Tonight.

Filking assaults the ear.
Elevators don’t appear.
Neos are going to town
Tonight

Give fire Mar—
shalls headaches.
Or stomaches that queze.
Let desk clerks,
And drunks think
They’ve got the D.T.s
No coffee shop waitress
Believes what she sees.
We rule the halls tonight.
Let mundanes take to flight!

The con suite is crowded and loud,
We’re riding pure energy now.
We’ll not be brought down to the ground
’Till tomor—
ow morning when
We’ll be paying for
Tonight!