Filk Infliction

Sorry. Busy writing. Fresh Content Tomorrow.

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.


15 thoughts on “Filk Infliction

  1. That’s great!

    Where’s your submission?
    (You practice too much to always hide in a crowd.)

  2. I first encountered that Honor Harrington song on the first Honorverse CD. I like the song lyrics a lot, but the performance …. ugh. I really hate high screechy voices, and when you combine them with that sharp, piercing flute as primary instrument, well, it just Does Not Work for me. I agree with you: it needs a deeper voice component. And a lower-pitched instrument or two.

  3. LOL, you need to attend a dining in at a base in England to get some ‘interesting’ filk songs…

  4. And here I thought Stan Rogers was best know for “Barrett’s Privateers” and “Northwest Passage.” Now I’m going to have to listen to “Witch of the Westmorland.” It’s a tragedy he died so young in that aircraft fire. Vehicles and drugs seem to be the two tragic causes of early deaths for musicians.

  5. The offspring wants me to recommend the Ballad of Apollo XIII sung by Julie Eklar. And a bit of the lyrics apply to yesterday’s post: “Yes, always recall that in spite of them all,
    the truth was much greater than fiction!”

  6. This is the version of “Dawson’s Christian” I first heard – slightly better voice and slightly different lyrics:

      • There was a slightly-different-lyrics version, altered and occasionally sung at cons by Jordin Kare, but I don’t think there’s a recording anywhere, or at least not anywhere public.

  7. A version with lyrics are still being sung by “Vixy and tony”. You can find the recording by searching “Dawson’s christian, Vixy and tony.” For the record, I prefer the original.

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