Filksong Genealogy: Shapes in Shadow

(Series: Filksong Genealogy)

Above: “Shades of Shadow,” off the album A Wolfrider’s Reflections, based on the ElfQuest comic.  (The official album songbook is here; lyrics to this song are about halfway through.)  Lyrics by Mercedes Lackey, music by Leslie Fish, sung by Julia Ecklar.  The speaker in this song is Winnowill, a powerful magic-worker and master manipulator.

Below: Bob Kanefsky’s “Shapes in Shadow” is one of those filksongs that can’t really be called a parody of the original song, as there’s nothing comedic or satirical about it.  Like the original, it’s about power.

Fences (A Sheep Shanty) – Talis Kimberley and Chantelle Smith

Alfie Purl, Christopher, Ruby and Zack;
Move the sheep and the fences around!
Take the ones from the front and put these in the back
Move the sheep and the fences around.

Why would you write a shanty about sheep?  Why not.  Sung, appropriately, in a field, by Talis Kimberley and Chantelle Smith.  Featuring the names of real sheep!

Autonomous – Marshall Burns

This song was written by Marshall Burns (and animated here by Sunny Adams) for the novel Autonomous by Annalee Newitz, and she wrote a really good post about the genre she’s calling “Canadian prairie futurism” and how it relates to traditional music.  I’m just gonna copypaste a chunk of it here because it’s such a good explanation of a huge part of the filk ethos:

Two summers ago, when I was finishing the first draft of my novel Autonomous, I watched Marshall play and thought about the future. Back then he was at Leopold’s Tavern, and I’d come to the crowded bar with a bunch of family after a long dinner full of conversations about politics and art. This is the sort of thing we might do more often if there were an apocalypse, I mused. We’d gather in some communal shelter, after a day of hunting and gathering in the trashed wastes. Then somebody from our family would start to sing. We’d raise our voices too, to take our minds off the famine and plague and wildfires.

But it’s also the exact kind of thing we’d do in a Utopian future. Imagine us surrounded by carbon-neutral farms whose plants are monitored by sensors and satellites. Our brains would be crackling with ideas, thanks to government-funded science education. After a productive day in the fields and the labs, we’d gather at the co-op watering hole and sing our brains out in agrarian socialist solidarity. We’d all sound great too, because we’d have optimized our vocal chords with open source biotissue mods.

Maybe it sounds a little strange to say that Marshall’s old-fashioned songs gave me these vivid, contradictory images of the future. But I see the future clearly in these anachronistic moments. If we can still hear traditional prairie music in a modern city bar, then it’s a kind of guarantee that people of the future will still be listening to us. As Marshall sang, I could imagine distorted bits of my own culture still alive in a world utterly transformed by time’s passage.

And besides all that, enjoy a song about sad robots!

Small Mended Corners – Talis Kimberley

There are women I’ve been who you would not have liked
Very much – and I can’t say I’d blame you for that;
but I had to be them before I could be me
They are threads on the loom of the woman you see

And they’re all – here – sewn in the lining of me
In the seam-folds and the small mended corners
Tucked into collar and sleeves in the lining of me

“Small Mended Corners,” by Talis Kimberley, a song about identity and sewing – which, as someone who has struggled with both, I appreciate.

King Henry & Faerie Queen – Heather Alexander; He of the Sidhe – Alexander James Adams

asdmabel:

borderlineanders:

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bisexualcryptkeeper:

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bisexualcryptkeeper:

My OTHER favorite Child Ballad is “King Henry,” because it is just… bizarre. A horse and an unspecified number of greyhounds and hawks get murdered in this one, but no humans this time.

Killing your own pets to feed them to a strange giant woman who just barged into your hunting lodge TOTALLY sounds like the sort of thing a king would have to do, doesn’t it?

Wish I knew which King Henry this song was written about, because I unquestionably accept its events as historical fact.

Don’t ever listen to any version of this song other than Heather Alexander’s, because you will inevitably be disappointed. (well, the Steeleye Span version is also acceptable)

@thetygre, @tyrantisterror

Because this post is getting attention again, I would like to append something wonderful that I recently learned. The musician you hear here is trans and now goes by the name of Alexander James Adams. Because of his obsession with fairies n’ shit, he steadfastly maintains the kayfabe story that his previous self, Heather, was a changeling and he, Alexander, was the child she replaced, but won the right to return from fairyland in a “Devil Went Down to Georgia” style fiddle duel with the faerie queen. This is a song he wrote that tells the whole story.

He gives me so much hope

Reblogging because, holy shit, this is amazing, @tyrantisterror, @thetygre, @mortharris look.

@transrevan

i’m sorry i’m adding this after already reblogging but??? the second song is a refilk of his previous song recorded pre-transition!!! which has more of his Epic Fiddle Playing

Will We Still Have Country Music Out in Space – Joe Bethancourt

“Will we still have honky tonks and bars
Will we still sing “’Mazing Grace”
Will we still have country music out in space?”

Joe Bethancourt asking the question that forms one of the central tenants of filk as a genre – “Will We Still Have Country Music Out In Space?”

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Vikings – Joe Bethancourt

“Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Vikings” – good sound advice from Joe Bethancourt, a bit late for most of the Society for Creative Anachronism crowd

Helva’s Song – Cecilia Eng

And the stars still dance the spiral dance
And the planets circle far
But the ship who sang will sing no more
Between the distant stars

“Helva’s Song,” by Cecilia Eng, performed by Cecilia Eng and Ernie Mansfield, based on “The Ship Who Sang,” a short story by Anne McCaffrey

The Lady – Urban Tapestry

filkyeahfilk:

 

But the Lady is faithful, she rides the bright sea
Her bowing is graceful, full of dignity
She speeds ‘cross the water, the wind at her back
And the crew hopes she’ll carry them home

“The Lady,” by Urban Tapestry (Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Allison Durno, and Jodi Krangle)  plus Tom Jeffers on bass, Dave Clement on lead guitar, and Kylea Fulton on pennywhistle

An immigration song…about vampires.

Bat Mod here to add: this is loosely based on a sequence in Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, in which Louis and Claudia travel overseas.

The Lady – Urban Tapestry

But the Lady is faithful, she rides the bright sea
Her bowing is graceful, full of dignity
She speeds ‘cross the water, the wind at her back
And the crew hopes she’ll carry them home

“The Lady,” by Urban Tapestry (Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Allison Durno, and Jodi Krangle)  plus Tom Jeffers on bass, Dave Clement on lead guitar, and Kylea Fulton on pennywhistle

An immigration song…about vampires.

Rocket Robin Hood

From Eva Baskins:

Since this is a show theme song, I’m not sure if it counts, but… Rocket Robin Hood! This feels like something that could have a filk following, just because the concept opens up so many questions! (I’ll admit, I’ve never actually watched it, and I only just now found out the thing existed.)

 

…can’t say I’ve ever heard of it either, but MAN what a concept.  And now if I had to explain filk to someone without using any actual filk music…I might just show them this.