Song Of The Day 3/8/2015: It's Sister Jenny's Turn to Throw the Bomb - "Ramboing"

Because I’m really up on things, I’ve just stumbled upon filk music while doing research on last week’s topic. (Dubstep, right?) Filk is a form of music that began in the 1950’s. I’m not sure how successfully it’s survived, since most folk artifacts have been donated to the Smithsonian and we sent steam cleaners to tidy up the place. But I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of a filk revival, given the resuscitated marketplace for sci-fi, fantasy and Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions, which are a little of both.

What the frick is filk? describes it as “A popular or folk song with lyrics revised or completely new lyrics, intended for humorous effect when read, and/or to be sung late at night at (science-fiction) conventions… Compare grilf, hing and newsfroup.” So filk may very well have been the first form of fan fiction to take root in art culture, unless you count Bach’s Canonic Variations on ‘Vom Himmel hoch da komm’ ich her,’ Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, which was slightly less popular than his next fan-music piece 50 Variations on the Intermediate Hue Betwixt Black and White. (Portions of this were adapted into the English folk song “Mae I Stryke Her Mlik White Bosom With the Cat Who Hath Nine Tails?”) (You realize how hard this job is?)

Filk did have a smallish following in the 1980’s when George Lucas forced sci-fi to up its laser budget and David Bowie traumatized children with Labyrinth, and a fine serviceman who goes by the YouTube handle The Weyr’d Music Man has preserved a huge amount of homemade filk cassettes made around the time. Some are by a band called It’s Sister Jenny’s Turn to Throw the Bomb, including this very special update of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” which name-checks Sylvester Stallone’s most syllable-challenged archetype. We’ll have a filk theme week sometime after I’ve remembered where I keep the cyanide capsules.

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