Filk!

I’ve been asked a few times after performing original filk in public if I’ve posted the lyrics anywhere. Also, I know firsthand how frustrating it is when filk songs are hard to find online (or even unavailable except in analog form) and the barrier it creates for new filkers. So in the spirit of doing as I would like others to do, I’ve created this page for my own filk lyrics. More to come–including, someday, the Robin Hood song to the tune of “Barrett’s Privateers” that I’m still surprised doesn’t yet exist.

The Common Metre Song (or, Give Me an Inch and I’ll Take a Metre)
(ttto… singer’s choice!)

I’ve written words that go along with tunes I’ve heard before
But why write for a single song when you can aim for more?
Sure, words for one tune are all right; they’re fine, don’t get me wrong
But just for fun, I thought I’d write a common metre song

Chorus:
This is my common metre song, it scans to all the rest
So if you think my tune sounds wrong, just pick one you like best

Eight syllables, then six, you see, to an iambic beat
That’s fourteen in totality, or seven metric feet
Now strictly speaking it’s defined as ABAB rhyme 
But ABCB’s also fine, you’ll see it all the time

You probably already know some songs that use this frame
The melodies will differ though the scansion is the same
You’ve heard of “Auld Lang Syne” before, if I’m to name but one,
Or “Yellow Rose of Texas”, or “House of the Rising Sun”

And so you will before too long discover that you can
Play mix and match with all these songs and they’ll correctly scan
From one song take the lyrics, from the other melody
And they’ll chimerically become an instant parody

I’ve found that when you try to set a tune to different words
The combinations that you get are sometimes quite absurd
If you would like to see at hand this strange phenomenon
Try pairing “Oh Susannah” and the theme from Pokemon

If you’ve been following along with what I’ve sung to you
You know the lyrics to this song are common metre too
If this tune doesn’t work for you then you can just replace
Whatever tune you heard it to and sing “Amazing Grace”

The Missing Muse (or, O Euterpe, Where Art Thou?)

I need a new idea for a story
And somehow I have nothing I can use
I really think that this would be a good time
To get some helpful input from the muse

Why is it when I’m writing to a deadline
Is always when my muse is absentee?
She’s prob’ly at a toga party somewhere
When she’s supposed to be inspiring me

Those Grecian gals who speak to us creatives
Are no-shows when we need their help the most
And if mine doesn’t get her act together
Before tonight my project will be toast.

Why is it when I’m writing to a deadline
Is always when my muse is absentee?
She’s prob’ly watching Netflix with her feet up
When she’s supposed to be inspiring me

Of course it’s just a metaphor, I know that
And really the ideas are my own
But making things would get a whole lot simpler
If I could call my muse up on the phone

Why is it when I’m writing to a deadline
Is always when my muse is absentee?
She’s prob’ly on vacation in Bermuda
When she’s supposed to be inspiring me

NaNoWriMo Like the Wind (to the tune of “Write Like the Wind” by Paul and Storm)

Now it’s November, so write and write faster
Your novel won’t finish itself while you wait
Just thirty days until you reach the deadline
And never mind last time you showered or ate
So WriMos, write like the wind!

I curse the day that my friend ever told me
About this event where you write 50k
Only a month, but it’s easy to do it
If you can write one-six-six-seven a day

Now every year I conceive a new novel
And swear that this time I can keep up the pace
Yet every November I seem to hit roadblocks
And desperately flail till I finish the race

Why do I come back every year?
At this point it’s not really clear

It’s mid-November, so write and write faster
And mainline caffeine when you can’t stay awake
Put off your chores and live solely on takeout
And cancel all plans on your Thanksgiving break
So WriMos, write like the wind!

I should have planned this way back in October
My characters seem to have wills of their own
What happens next and where is this plot going?
If I’d made an outline then I might have known

I sit up late hunching over my laptop
And stare at the screen till my vision is blurred
I thought I could do this, but it’s not so easy
When you’re running short twenty thousand damn words!

And now it’s turned day twenty-eight
Oh why did I procrastinate?

It’s still November, so write and write faster
Don’t worry ’bout plot holes or prose style or plans
Rack up the word count, and don’t check your spelling
And just keep on typing as fast as you can
Yes, WriMo, write–

It’s NaNoWriMo, so write and write faster,
Until it’s December, just write like the wind!

O Come, O Great Pumpkin (to the tune of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”)

O listen, trick-or-treaters all, so ghoulish to be seen
Remember the Great Pumpkin will arrive on Halloween
And in this very pumpkin patch the faithful will convene
O come, O Great Pumpkin, come tonight, come tonight,
O come, O Great Pumpkin, come tonight

I’ll be right here to meet him, I’ll await his drawing near
I’m sure of every pumpkin patch ours is the most sincere
And though I’ve never seen him, I’m sure this will be the year
O come, O Great Pumpkin, come tonight, come tonight,
O come, O Great Pumpkin, come tonight

My friends all think I’m crazy and they say so to my face
My sister is ashamed of me and calls me a disgrace
Please prove them wrong, Great Pumpkin, by appearing in this place
O come, O Great Pumpkin, come tonight, come tonight,
O come, O Great Pumpkin, come tonight

And now it’s nearly half past one on this All Hallows Eve
I crouch among the pumpkins and I struggle to believe
And still the one I wait for is nowhere to be perceived
O come, O Great Pumpkin, come tonight, come tonight,
O come, O Great Pumpkin, come tonight

Ophelia (to the tune of “Cecilia” by Simon & Garfunkel)

Third place in Doom, Gloom, and Despondency song contest, Arisia 2019

Ophelia, you’re breaking my heart
You know something’s rotten in Denmark
Oh Ophelia, to a nunnery go
It’s prob’ly much safer than here

Ophelia, your father is dead
They say he was stabbed by your boyfriend
Oh Ophelia, they’re driving you mad
Your state is so sad to behold
To behold

With an armful of dead plants
Poor Ophelia wanders in a trance
Handing weeds to the queen and king
As she wanders the Elsinore hallways she’ll sing:

And will he not come again?
And will he not come again?
No, no, he is dead:
Go to thy death-bed:
He never will come again.

Ophelia, you’ve wandered away
You’re wading right into the water
Oh Ophelia, you won’t float for long
You’ll sing one last song as you sink
As you sink

In the willow brook she’s drowned
Now they come to lay her in the ground
Hamlet comes to see the rite
Then he springs at Laertes and gets in a fight

Ophelia, they’ve jumped in your grave
Why can’t they behave through your fun’ral
Oh, Ophelia, oh sweets to the sweet
May angels sing thee to thy rest
To thy rest

Oh ho ho ho ho, oh ho ho ho ho ho ho

Then they forget you
You’re not mentioned again
They’re too busy killing each other
When it’s over
And everyone’s dead
You’ll come take your bow at the end
At the end

Orient Express (to the tune of “Wabash Cannonball”)
Winner of songwriting contest at ConCertino 2018, on the theme “Clues”

He got on board at Stamboul that fateful winter’s day
Hoping for a peaceful journey and one without delay
So what a shock to waken from a night of little rest
To hear there’d been a murder on the Orient Express

Chorus
A dozen shifty passengers and contradicting clues
It’s tricky to determine just whom we should accuse
Before this journey’s over we’ll get someone to confess
That they committed murder on the Orient Express

A half-burnt piece of paper gives Poirot a vital name
And leads him one step closer to concluding who’s to blame
Poor Daisy’s senseless killing and her family’s distress
Were motive for the murder on the Orient Express

Chorus

The suspects all have secrets and aren’t all who they claim
Mr. Hardman’s a detective and the Countess changed her name
And Mary knows the Colonel–oh, how are we to guess
Which one might be the killer on the Orient Express?

Chorus

Now one by one deductions have discounted every clue
The kimono’s a red herring and the handkerchief is too
It seems a baffling mystery till the Belgian cries “Success!
I’ve puzzled out the murder on the Orient Express.”

Final chorus
A dozen clever passengers colluding as a team
An almost perfect murder till Poirot exposed their scheme
The way the killing happened was impossible unless
They all committed murder on the Orient Express

So here’s to Aggie Christie, one and only Queen of Crime
Who’s given us a classic that has stood the test of time
She set us up a puzzle like a fiendish game of chess
And dared us solve the murder on the Orient Express

Robots Are People Too

You should always show respect to service workers
That’s just the thing that’s decent and polite
Even when your friendly waiter is an android
That plugs into a charging port each night 

Chorus:
Oh whether someone’s made of flesh or metal
It doesn’t change what you have got to do
‘Cause electronic hearts still beat with feelings
And robots are people too 

Oh, let’s support fair wages for the Roomba
And every robot that works hard each day
Oh sure, they may not need to feed a family
But they’ve still earned the right to equal pay

From nanobots to factory machin’ry
Accept our robot brethren great and small
Or otherwise they might turn into Skynet
And they’ll take over and destroy us all

Temp Torment Blues (to the tune of “Sixteen Tons”)
Credit for the concept goes to Christopher Lockheardt, who originally wrote it as a short play that I appeared in.

Prometheus spends his days chained to a rock
But everyone gets some time off the clock
He’s due for vacation, and while he’s away
It’s me that’s chained to the rock each day

Chorus
Chained to a rock and what do I get?
Minimum wage toward my student debt
An eagle eats my liver, but I can’t fuss
I’m the temp subbing in for Prometheus

I majored in Classics and I did great
At Summa Cum Laude I’d graduate
But then the economy proved unkind
I had to take any job I could find

It seemed my skills were out of date
So my resume had to exaggerate
Being bound to a wheel, rolling a boulder,
Bearing the whole world on my shoulders

I offered to file or make some calls
But they said it was the torment or nothing at all
So while I can’t say I’m not annoyed
At least it still beats being unemployed!

The Time Traveler’s Lament

The trouble started one day when I went downstairs to clean
And found what looked like blueprints to construct a time machine
I don’t know how they got there on that dusty basement shelf
I think that maybe they were planted by my future self
The plans weren’t hard to implement and once the paint had dried
I pushed the big red button and I took it for a ride

Spoken: I mean, what was I going to do, not build a time machine?

Chorus:
It sounds like an adventure, having time at your command
But once I started traveling it soon got out of hand
I meddled with the timestream, and now it’s plain to see
That time travel’s not everything that it’s cracked up to be

I went to see my grandparents in 1955
I thought I’d pay a visit back when they were still alive
But it was my first trip and so I didn’t understand
That I should check ahead where the machine was due to land
So when I parked that time machine I’d worked so hard to build
It landed on my grandfather and he was nearly killed

Spoken: In my defense, nearly wiping yourself from existence is a time traveler rite of passage…

Well, family was clearly out; instead I thought I’d see
A couple greatest hits from olden days of history
So I embarked with gusto on my timestream tourist cruise
In hindsight maybe Salem was a foolish place to choose
I realized my mistake in time and quickly pulled the switch
And barely made it out before they burned me as a witch

Spoken: And let me tell you, those Puritans have no sense of humor.

Another thing I realized as through history I ranged
The tiniest disruption and my future might be changed
I took no souvenirs and kept my journeys to a few
To minimize disruption and preserve the past I knew
But I’ve learned that I can’t assume what might change time or not
I once stepped on a butterfly and JFK got shot

Spoken: Sorry guys, sorry, my bad, that’s on me

I think it’s for the best I bring my travels to an end
But just to close the loop there’s one last trip that I intend
I’ve packed up all my blueprints in this sturdy cardboard box
So I can leave them for myself to stave off paradox
But if I gave myself the plans on some clandestine visit
Then who designed this time machine and whose idea is it?

Spoken: Oh, that one just makes my head hurt.

Too Many Books
(ttto “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”)

It’s impossible to have too many books
It’s impossible to have too many books
My shelves are fully packed and all the extras have been stacked
But it’s impossible to have too many books

I admit I haven’t read all of my books
I admit I haven’t read all of my books
But I have ‘em ‘cause I want to, so screw you Marie Kondo
I admit I haven’t read all of my books

I probably need to organize my books
Yes, I probably need to organize my books
If I make an inventory I won’t miss out on a story
So I probably need to organize my books

But I definitely don’t have too many books
No, I definitely don’t have too many books
If there was shelf space to be had there are some more I’d like to add
So yeah, I definitely don’t have too many books

Wait For Vaccines

(ttto I’ll Follow the Sun)

Right now we talk through our machines
But my job is remote, so I’ll wait for vaccines

Someday we’ll meet without Zoom screens
But I’m not at high risk, so I’ll wait for vaccines

Someday the time will come when we can breathe the same air
But ‘til that day draws near, we’ll all cut our own hair
(Not there yet!)

One day we’ll know that we’re all clean
But we can’t be sure when, so I’ll wait for vaccines