(Series: Filksong Genealogy)
So there’s this lovely folk song, variously called “Farewell tae th’ Creeks” or “Banks of Sicily,” which like many folk songs has gone through a lot of different permutations. The above is a rendition by the Chad Mitchell Trio; their lyrics can be found here, while the original lyrics can be found here.
What happens when filkers get hold of something like this? Welllll … a lot of things.
Here’s “Green Hills of Harmony” (lyrics) by Al Frank, performed here by (I think) Dandelion Wine. It’s about the Dorsai, a fictional mercenary society from a science fiction book series by Gordon R. Dickson.
And here’s Frank Hayes’s parody of “Green Hills,” entitled “Don’t Ask” (lyrics). It’s … also about the Dorsai. Sort of.
And here is what may be the most recent riff on the same tune: Erin & Rand Bellavia’s Pegasus-nominated filksong “Cliffs of Insanity.”
There’s much more to the story!
(You’re right about Dandelion Wine–that’s the recording from their album “The Face on Mars.”)
See, one major reason the Dorsai are still heard of, despite the Childe Cycle books not exactly being bestsellers anymore (Dickson died in 2001 and hadn’t published a new such book in almost a decade even then), is this:
In 1973, at TorCon 2, the 31st World Science Fiction Convention in Toronto, the only security there were local rent-a-cops, who among other things didn’t get along with the fans and didn’t really work out well–notably someone walked off with a Kelly Freas original (Kelly being one of the most well known artists in fandom) by showing the art show rent-a-cop a receipt for a much cheaper piece. The guard didn’t know any better than to say “no way you paid that for this piece.”
So, the legendary Robert Asprin, SF writer, cosplayer, SCAdian, filker, and fan extraordinaire, decided Something Must Be Done. Thus, he set up a fannish group to help work conventions: Door guards, hall monitoring (for drunk fans needing help back to their rooms as well as extraction from uncomfortable come-ons), auctioneering, even operations help. He got permission from Dickson to call the group the Dorsai Irregulars, the idea being that these were the “weirdos” of the otherwise traditionally military mercenary Dorsai.
And Bob himself being one of the major filkers of his age (arguably, he brought filk out of the back rooms and into function space at conventions; he definitely assigned the filk community its signature whiskey), he got some of his filker friends to help. To this day the roster of the DI is chock-a-block with some of the leading lights and senior songsters of the filk community, including Bob and Anne Passovoy, Murray Porath, Michael “Moonwulf” Longcor, Mark Bernstein, Bill and Gretchen Roper, Bill and Brenda Sutton, Steve MacDonald, John Hall, and more I’m not going to list one by one.
See John Hall’s “Filk Music and the Dorsai Irregulars” for more.
(And yes, Frank’s “Don’t Ask” is more about the Irregulars than the Regulars.)
(“I’ve never met a shy Dorsai!”)
Reblogging for the Rest Of The Story. 😀