Filk Infliction

Hi, my name is Alma and I like filk-music. I play it and sing it.

What’s filk-music? I’m glad you asked (although you might not be.) At best, it is folk music for worlds that never existed, fantasy realms, space battle stations, car-racing elves, marching songs for armies a thousand years in the future. At worst it makes Irish drinking songs sung ten minutes before closing time on pay-day-weekend sound like grand opera or great hymns. I grew up with folk music, both of the Childe Ballad type and the “modern folk” (Weavers, Limelighters, Ian and Sylvia, Kingston Trio, Odetta.) So of course it’s a short leap from “Over the Hills and Far Away” to “Stand to Your Glasses Steady” to “Falling Down on New Jersey,” and, well . . .

“Signey Mallory” was probably the first filk song I recall hearing that was not written for a Mercedes Lackey book. It led me to reading Downbelow Station, which I got to do only because Mom and I met the owner of the Demon Bookseller, in Annapolis, MD, while I was interviewing for the US Naval Academy. He sold used sci-fi books, and happened to have a first edition of the book. It arrived for my 18th birthday, and the rest is history.

I have a love-hate relationship with filk music, like much folk music, because the quality of the voices doesn’t always work with the songs. There are some great songs sung by people who make my teeth hurt to listen to, and vice versa. Here’s one of the better ones.

I first heard this one performed a capella at an Irish-music fest in Little Five Points, Atlanta. The singer was a baritone who did a magnificent job with it, had the audience entranced from the first phrase. Stan Rogers is probably best known for performing “Witch of the Westmorland.” I do it at a faster tempo, but that’s me, and a capella doesn’t allow for long pauses and interludes. 🙂

Here’s one that I like, but could do with better voices, IMHO (although this is probably close to how it would sound on Grayson.)

I would love to hear this one done by a baritone, with a male or mixed chorus. Yes, Honor Harrington filk. Scary thought, isn’t it?

One of my absolute favorites:

John Ringo picked this one up and ran with it.  Wicked Tinkers and the artist formerly known as Heather Alexander.  As a good friend of mine says, this is “Rrrraaaalllyyyyy!” music, for those moments when you really, really need to win.

And last but not least (because I wanted to include this one in the next Cat Among Dragons book but couldn’t get permission) . . .

Again, not the greatest voice, but a very neat song.

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4 thoughts on “Filk Infliction

  1. I am glad you included Dawson’s Christian. This ranks among my top 10 Favorite Filks – right next to Hope Eyre, Witness’ Waltz, Phoenix, The Star, Tin Soldier, and a handful of others. (I don’t have a #1 favorite. It is too hard to pick just one.)

    I do not play or sing, I simply enjoy. ((What voice I had at 17 is long gone, lost to age and several bouts of bronchitis.))

  2. Thank you for Signey Mallory, I hadn’t heard it. I have a love-hate relationship with Cherryh. She is a great writer, but she almost never has any characters I really like. In fact I can’t think of any human characters that I really like. They are either angsty wusses I want to slap around and tell to grow a spine, or like Mallory, they are rapists. I unabashedly like the Chanyr (sp?) Saga books, but again the only human character in them is one I don’t care for, the alien characters make up for it, however. Almost everything else she writes, I finish and think, “dang that was good, but I don’t think I actually liked it.”

    And yes, the artist formerly known as Heather Alexander was great. Here is another of my favorites by her.

    • Cherryh’s world building is magnificent. But yeah, her characters don’t tend to be very, shall we say, loveable?

      It really irks me that more of TAFKAHA’s backlist is not available. There’s a (AFAIK still ongoing) copyright spat between a number of artists/performers and the company that produced and sold their stuff, which puts some cool music out of reach, unless you happen to have tapes or can find them used.

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