zerode – a sensibility


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Song of the Day: Brobdingnagian Bards, “Do Virgins Taste Better Medley”

A musical guilty pleasure…

Brobdingnagian Bards, “Do Virgins Taste Better Medley” – from A Faire To Remember (2001)

What am I saying? Didn’t we just go through this with The Jedi Path – feeling guilty about my fannish enthusiasms? So fine – not a guilty pleasure, just a pleasure. I’ll own it. Hi – my name is Nick and I’m a geek. I learned to read reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with my father. I love fantasy (and science fiction) and I’ve attended many fan conventions and similar events (for various fantasy and science fiction things) over the years.

I first encountered filk music at a science fiction convention when I was a kid, and later it was a regular part of my Ren Faire, SCA and RPG activities (that’s Renaissance Faire, Society for Creative Anachronism and Role-Playing Games, for those of you not one of us). Filk is basically folk music that generally draws on fan interests and activities for its themes – from the actual fantasy and science fiction texts and products of which fans are fans, to other interests that are widespread among fans (like beer, and cats). Often the music is taken from other pop and folk songs, with the lyrics changed, but occasionally the filk songs are completely original. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about filk:

Filk music: “there is no consensus definition of filk, though one could divide the different proposed definitions by their focus on the content and style of filk music or the cultural aspects of filking as an activity.

One definition is based on filk as a genre: filk is folk music, usually with a science fiction or fantasy theme. But this definition is not exact. Filkers have been known to write filk songs about a variety of topics, including but not limited to tangentially-related topics such as computers and cats. The other common definition is anthropological: filk is what is sung or performed by the network of people who originally gathered to sing at science fiction/fantasy conventions. Yet another definition focuses on filking as a community of those interested in filk music and who form part of the social network self-identified with filking. As described later in this article, the origins of filk in science fiction conventions and its current organization emphasizes the social-network aspect of filking.

Whichever definition one chooses, filk is a form of music created from within science fiction and fantasy fandom, often performed late at night at science fiction conventions, though there are now dedicated filk conventions in Canada, England, Germany, and the USA. And whichever definition one chooses, the boundaries of filking are muddy. For example, filking overlaps with the singing and music performed by participants in the Society for Creative Anachronism or at LARPs. (via Wikipedia.)

The Brobdingnagian Bards are one of the more successful acts to come out of the filk music community in recent years. The Bards have recorded many albums over the years, some more traditionally folky or Celtic, some more filk-y. 2001’s A Faire To Remember is one of the filk-iest – covering all the biggest hits of the Ren Faire scene, as you would expect from the title.

“Virgins” is a fairly (no pun intended) representative example of filk music – a Celtic folk tune (I guess) with lyrics that draw on the world of fantasy literature, in a humorous way. It’s funny and sharp – raising the question that should have occurred to all of us: why is it, exactly, that dragons prefer to eat virgins?

It’s not my favorite song on the album. That would have to be “If I Had a Million Ducats” – a filk version of the Bare Naked Ladies song, “If I Had a Million Dollars,” that changes the lyrics to refer to a broad range of things fannish – things like Godzilla and the movie The Princess Bride. In live performances they take suggestions from the audience. But “Virgins” is perhaps more representative of filk – and smarter. It’s cute to change dollars to ducats, and all the other substitutions, and provides lots of fannish pleasure, but I really had one of those “a ha” moments the first time I heard “Virgins.” Why do dragons eat virgins?

(Marc Gunn, one of the two Bards, also hosts a variety of more traditional Celtic-oriented activities – including a very good Celtic music podcast and trips to Ireland and Scotland.)

For more…

Filed under: Song of the Day, , , ,

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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Oh - and hello to Jason Isaacs.

The 400 Blows


is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.


What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

tweeting my mind



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