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What is filk music?


The music that Mr. Holt prefers is Filk music, I had no idea what it was, so he told me, here is his explanation:

Filk consists of (a) songs written about characters, situations etc from science fiction or fantasy literature, set either to original music or already existing tunes (b) parodies of the above (c) songs by established SF/fantasy writers about anything in general (d) songs by established filksong writers about anything in general (e) songs about cats; or, to quote from a song by the greatest living British filkwriter;

I know the words to every song, the chords to every tune.
I sing of girls in cryosleep or miners on the Moon,
Of secret pagan rituals and battles in the stars;
And at SF conventions they use me to clear the bars.
Filksongs are divided into two categories; (i) witty, amusing and short, and (ii) long, dreary and sad (also known as ose songs) The best filk writer of all is an American called Leslie Fish.

A lawyerjoke transcribed by Frank Hayes into a filksong (or perhaps it was the other way around)

Ask a housewife how much two and two is
Without hesitation she'll tell you it's four
Ask an accountant; he'll say "I'm fairly certain,
But let me run through those figures once more."
Ask a doctor; he'll think about malpractice,
And say "At the very least, I'm pretty sure it's three."
But ask a lawyer; he'll close the door and pull the curtains
And say "How much do you want it to be?"
Ah, filksongs! Ah, the lyrics of Leslie Fish! Actually, there are some Fish lyrics on the Net (one of the first things I did once I'd learned how to use this thing without blowing all the fuses in Somerset was look up "Leslie Fish" on Alta Vista) tho' I think they're mostly recent ones and not up to her usual high standard. There's a company called Random Factors online, who sell filk tapes, CD's etc; the problem being that a lot of Fish's good stuff was recorded by a company that subsequently went bust, and they own the copyright; so the best Fish tapes ("Firestorm," "Skybound", "Chickasaw Mountain" and "It's Sister Jenny's Turn To Throw The Bomb") are unobtainable except as pirate copies.

The most famous Fish song (tho' not the best, by any means) is "Banned From Argo", which tells the story of what the crew of the Enterprise get up to when they go on shore leave. For example;

Our captain's tastes are simple, though his methods are complex.
We found him with five parters, each of a different world & sex.
The shore police were on their way; we had no second chance -
We beamed him up in the nick of time and the remnants of his pants

Our helmsman loves exotic plants; the plants all love him, too.
He took some down on leave with him, just to see what they would do.
Then the planetary governor called and swore upon his life
A gang of plants entwined his house and then seduced his wife

Our engineer would yield to none at putting down the brew;
He outdrank seven space marines and a demolotion crew.
The navigator didn't win, though he outdrank almost all -
And now they've got a shuttlecraft on the roof of city hall

My personal favourites are "Eyes Of The Eagles", "Black Powder & Alcohol" and "Blue Bread Mould," which are basically just sings about making things (lenses, gunpowder and penicillin, in that order) The chorus of Eyes of the Eagles is rather fine; it goes -
Grind, children, grind
From the world we left behind
We have won gems enough to be free.
Grind, children, grind;
Though the work was never kind,
Through the eyes of the eagles we shall see
Fish fits the recipe for gunpowder very nicely into six anarchistic lines -
Gimme sulphur to the measure two
(Send the bullet where you want it to)
Gimme charcoal to the measure three
(Make that powder's gonna set you free)
Gimme saltpetre, measure fifteen
(Sweetest shooting that you ever seen)
Blue Bread Mould is her neatest piece of didactic verse. For example -
You've left that cut for far too long; it's stinking and it's blue.
But don't consider suicide; I've just the thing for you.
Come here, you guys, and hold him down, if you would be so bold;
We'll clean it out with bleach, and then with blue bread mould
Blue bread mould - the story must be told;
Nothing keeps you living like the blue bread mould.
Blue bread mould - a treasure more than gold;
You can call it penicillin, but it's blue bread mould.
For sheer comic wierdness, though, my favourite is probably -
Carmen Miranda's ghost is haunting Space Station Three;
Half the crew have seen her, plus the portmaster and me.
And if you think we've had too much of cookie's home-made rum,
Just tell me where those basket hats of fruit keep coming from.

We don't know why we're haunted here, or why it's her that haunts.
We got a betting pool for those who wonder what she wants.
The best bet is, she likes the rhythm of the station's drive;
They didn't have phase generators while she was alive.

Carmen Miranda's ghost is haunting Space Station Three;
Not that we're complaining, 'cos the fresh fruit all comes free
But there are times we wonder what it means for the human race
When ghosts of generations past are heading out for space
(Ole!)

For everything else that you need to know about Filk, check out the Filk Faq


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Book Cover of You Don't Have To Be Evil To Work Here, But It Helps

Quote from You Don't Have To Be Evil To Work Here, But It Helps

 I didn't find out she was actually the Queen of the Fey until some time later.
 Bit of a shock, but I think we could've made a go of it, if she hadn't been so dead set on wiping out the human race.
(Tom Holt, "You Don't Have To Be Evil To Work Here, But It Helps")
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All stories/filksongs is written by Tom Holt, and not by me.
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