So tell me a story, aren’t all stories true?
Tell me a story and I’ll tell it back to you
There’s always someone else there, up the river, up the river
Got to find my own way up the river
“The River,” a song about trying to make art when it feels like there’s someone upstream in the river of creativity (for example, Bob Dylan), catching all the good ideas before they get to you. But in good filk fashion, Vixy and Tony point out the bright side – the fact that there are other people fishing means we can help each other. Idea fish , unlike meat fish, don’t get used up, they grow.
The splendid Scottish folksinger Karine Polwart tweeted one day about witnessing a girl being told not to climb a tree because she was in a very nice skirt. Or maybe just in a nice skirt, it was some time ago, and either way, this little song fell happily out and has been sung a handful of times since.
There is a particularly British distinction, I think, betweem a skirt, a nice skirt, and a very nice skirt. And you can climb trees in any of them, so there.
“Polly,” by Talis Kimberley, a very modern song in a charmingly traditional style.
It was only a matter of time before I wrote a filk inspired by The Last Mabelcorn. Don’t let the unicorns get you down.
The unicorn smiled when she saw you approaching her fountain
“Just one little test” she demanded and shot you a grin
“Just prove that your heart is as pure as the dew on the snowdrops
You’ll foul my glade if you’re wicked and tainted with sin.”
CHORUS: Don’t fall for the lies of those cruel unicorns
You’ve been messy and mortal since the day you were born
If you try to be perfect it’s just gonna tear you apart.
They want you to break yourself down till you shatter
They’ll say that you’re selfish for knowing you matter
So be brave and tenacious and loving and joyful and smart
But forget pure of heart.
“My lady,” you said, “I can’t claim that my spirit is blameless,
But I try to do good and to help in the ways I know how
My heart’s filled with love for myself and the people around me
And I’ll strive to do more and be better and stronger, I vow!”
The unicorn scoffed and she drew back her head with a shudder.
“I knew it! You arrogant mortals have never been pure!
Perhaps if you’re humble enough you may gain some forgiveness
But you’ll never be perfect. You’re sullied, and I have no cure!”
“Well, what have you done then?” you said as you stood up and faced her
“Just sit in this glade telling people the things they can’t do.
There isn’t a deed or a person who’s ever been perfect
And I may not be pure but I’ve damn well done more good than you!”
If you’re careful you’ll notice that unicorns live all around us
You can tell by the smugly superior look in their eyes.
They’ll enumerate each of your flaws with distain in their voices.
They’ll all tell you you have to be perfect; they’ll all tell you lies!
Don’t fall for the lies of those cruel unicorns
We’ve been messy and mortal since the day we were born
If we try to be perfect it’s just gonna tear us apart.
I won’t let the world break me down till I shatter
I’d rather be selfish than think I don’t matter!
I’m brave and tenacious and loving and joyful and smart
But I’m not pure of heart.
Hold the line – don’t retreat and don’t surrender
Hold the line – though around you others fall
We will give our last full measure
May the fates all treat us kind
So hold the line, my boys, just hold the line
“Holy the Line,” by Terence Chua, a war song applicable to real life or to a dozen sci-fi and fantasy universes, as ones’ predilections direct.
Teacher, dear teacher
We live in trying times
These days it seems that nowhere’s safe
No refuge can we find
The terror’s tainted Freedom’s shores
Stained it with crimson hues
And that’s the reason why my paper’s
Two weeks overdue
Relateable, politically relevant content from Terence Chua
For those of you who’ve never heard this song, it’s a song about how sooner or later the downtrodden always get pissed off and overthrow the bourgeoisie, and push gotta come to shove, the lawyer and the lawbook only go so far so go out there and kill rich people, fuck the church, and make sure to stand in solidarity with the other downtrodden. It actually specifically mentions antisemitism. Which is cool.
Pretty rivetting stuff.
Now, if you’ve never heard anything by Leslie Fish, here’s what you should know: She’s most known for fantasy and really, really hating the police. See above. Only, she’s a filk artist. She’s one of the more folky filk artists, actually. So her music, while saying things like “fuck the police” and “unions are great” does so through the lens of “after the apocalypse the SCA became a band of heroes and killed police, it was awesome” and “man starfleet ensigns are treated like crap, they need a union”. With matching folky or silly tunes.
This one is actually one of her less folky ones, but it’s followed by two more in the same album that are much more folky sounding, “Weapon Shops of Isher” and “Old Issue”. As you may have guessed, this album has a theme. That theme is guns.
So I’m sitting down, listening to my music which is keeping me grounded. Specifically, I am listening to this song, No High Ground. Which, again, is about inciting revolution.
My uncle asks me what I’m listening to.
Now, I have a split second decision to make before he asks me again, thinking I didn’t hear him: I can take out my earphones and go through the lengthy explanation of what filk is, or I can give him a one sentence answer. Naturally, I decide on the one sentence answer. I’m sitting there. I’ve got black clothes and a black denim jacket on. I don’t move an inch. I give my answer.
“songs about guns.”
Naturally, he asks me why. Again, not wanting to explain, not thinking, I answer.
“They relax me.”
Preeeetty sure my uncle is terrified of me and/or thinks I’m Ron Swanson.
So sounds like I have a new artist to listen to…
Leslie Fish has some very fun stuff. A lot of it is on youtube
I know not everyone can afford to buy CDs, and not everyone wants to mess with physical discs any more, but for those who are interested, Leslie Fish has an official website where people can buy her albums.
And now you know why your daddy drank
And why his hair turned gray
And why your mum so seldom laughed
And why they could not play
“Soul Stealers,” by the Dehorn Crew. This was attributed to Leslie Fish by the uploader on YouTube, but a comment corrected it. This is Fish’s band, but the lead singer, writer, and banjo is Kathleen Taylor, with Carol Shuttleworth on high harmony.
“Legacy of Legends,” by Mark Horning, written in memorial for Gene Cernan who passed away on Monday 16 January, 2017. The last man on the moon is with us no more.
Another year goes by,
Another hero fades away.
Another Living Legend,
From a brighter future day…
–When hope rose up on flaming wing
–And dreams were forged of steel
–And the men who strode the heavens
–Were very, very, real…
Now seems like a good time to make this anthem available to all who need it. Free to download, free to learn. free to sing in any street or battlefield where it seems to be needed.
By Catt Kingsgrave – 1993
I am one sword out of many, I am one face out of three
The Maiden, Crone, and Mother live united within me
For I am woman’s fury, and her honour and her pain
And before this day is over, oh, the blood shall fall like rain!
Bring me thunder, bring me steel, bring me coat of iron mail
Bring me diamond hardened will and let my courage never fail.
Bring the Lightning to my sword; lashing, living in my hand
And bring warning to the horde that here, the Battle Raven stands.
I am wind and rain and fire, I am venom, blood, and tears.
I can raise a fury higher than the worst of mortal fears
I am woman for the women and the children and the home
I will raise my cry in battle with an army – or alone!
When the Raven stands to battle, I will heed no pleading word
I will grant no foeman quarter; fallen men raise not the sword.
For I know no rules of warring; this is not some bloody game
This is kill, or die in trying, ‘cause your foe will do the same!
I will sing to bring the thunder crashing down from out the sky
And I’ll sing to light the souls of all the warriors soon to die
And I will sing in battle, bloody songs of power and pain
And I will sing tonight for War to never come again.