Filksong Genealogy: They’re Singing Banned from Argo

(Series: Filksong Genealogy)


Above: Leslie Fish’s setting to Rudyard Kipling’s “Danny Deever,” a poem about soldiers having to watch a public hanging, framed as a series of questions from a young inexperienced soldier and answers from an older veteran who has seen all this before.

Below: Bob Kanefsky’s “They’re Singing ‘Banned From Argo’,” a similarly framed series of questions and answers about another dreaded ritual.

If you find yourself confused by the veteran filker’s reaction in Bob’s parody, a look at this Fanlore page may be of some help.  And if you’ve never heard the original “Banned From Argo” before, run while you still can here’s your chance!

Filksong Genealogy: Bashing the Balrog

(Series: Filksong Genealogy)

Firstly, above: Leslie Fish’s setting of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Dane-Geld,” about the dubious wisdom of paying tribute to avoid being conquered by a neighboring country with less portable wealth but better armies.

Secondly, as previously seen on this blog, a classic filksong to the tune of “Waltzing Matilda”: Lee Gold’s “You Bash the Balrog,” a cheerful little ditty about an ill-fated set of D&D adventurers.  (If you’ve never heard “Waltzing Matilda,” have a listen here and maybe check out the wikipedia page.)

And finally, below: Bob Kanefsky’s synthesis “Bashing the Balrog,” performed by Leslie Fish.

Filksong Genealogy: Song from the Pig’s Side

(Series: Filksong Genealogy)

Above: another poem by Rudyard Kipling set to music by Leslie Fish: “Song of the Men’s Side,” a mythic story about how humankind rose above its status as prey for wolves by attaining a crucial piece of technology.

Below: Bob Kanefsky’s take on a … loosely related story, which is also about wolves and prey and technological advancements:  “Song From the Pig’s Side,” performed by Leslie Fish.  (Look at the end of the third verse for a sneaky shoutout to a different Kipling poem entirely – which, yes, has also been set to music by Fish.)

Bridge-Guard in the Karroo – Leslie Fish

(Few, forgotten and lonely,
Where the empty metals shine—
No, not combatants—only
Details guarding the line.)

“Bridge-Guard in the Karroo” by Rudyard Kipling, set to music and sung by Leslie Fish.  The poem is said (by Wikipedia) to evoke “the loneliness experienced by blockhouse soldiers at Ketting station on the Dwyka River while guarding the Karoo railway track, a lifeline during the South African War.”  Thank god for Wikipedia, because I know nothing about the South African War.

Cold Iron -Leslie Fish

Gold is for the mistress – silver for the maid –

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

“Good!”  said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

“But Iron – Cold Iron – is master of them all.”

Rudyard Kipling’s “Cold Iron,” set and sung by Leslie Fish

This was requested, and I’m kind of surprised I hadn’t posted it before; it’s one of my favorite Fish/Kiplings.  Kipplefishes?  Fishlings.

Rimini – Leslie Fish

“Rimini,” a marching song for the Roman legions, words by Rudyard Kipling, tune by Leslie Fish.

I spent a while messing with Riffstation to try and figure out the chords for this, and it worked…alright.  What I came up with may not be exact, but it works.  Try substituting fifths and nearby minor chords if anything doesn’t sound right to you.  I believe Fish has it capoed up four frets; anyway, this is the easiest key I found.

Lyrics and chords here

The Last Centurion (Rory’s Song)


As promised, here is the filk created by my friend Araxie and I (though mostly by her), a pair of hopelessly obsessed Whovians united in our unabashed adoration of Rory (Roranicus Pondicus) Williams/Pond.  

It is based upon the Rudyard Kipling poem The Roman Centurion Song. It has since been set to music by self-professed anarchist, alto, and filk icon Leslie Fish.


The Last Centurion’s Song

Doctor, you bid me come with you, and let her lie. What then?

She’ll wait for you two thousand years, while you cheat time again.

You always run, you always fly, you take no time to grieve.

If she must stay, then so will I. You cannot make me leave.


The universe has come undone, the stars no longer shine.

Now hasten on to patch the cracks, but leave both me and mine.

The future calls as time runs out, a world that you must mend,

So leave me now, but I’ve no doubt I’ll see you at the end.


I know that you must think me mad, and you may yet be right

As I slog on through endless days and sleepless starless nights.

Yet I will stay to keep her safe. I choose to bear this load.

To find my place in time and space, I take the winding road.


I wait for her in hope that I in waiting may atone

Not plastic now, but mine again, a man of flesh and bone.

She thought me human, and she died—cut down by my own hand.

In love and penance I’ll abide on time’s unwinding strand.


I’ll take the steady, slower path through heavy years and long.

I’ll watch Rome fall and Britain rise, and still I will press on.

The past is gone, the future dark, the present is a blur

The world grows cold, and life grows stark, yet I’ll remain with her.


Let me stay here, for Amy’s sake, as long as I have will,

Until I fail, or die, or break, or fall to greater skill,

I’ll fight both Cyberman and Pict, and all who dare to creep

From earth or sky or monster’s crypt to wake my love from sleep.


Doctor, I care not for your fears. You tell me I must go,

That she won’t feel the passing years, that I am doomed—I know.

She is my heart, my soul, my mind—the only love I’ve known.

You go, but I will stay behind so she won’t be alone.

Fish’s recording can be found (and downloaded! Legally!) here