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On November 19th 1915, Joe Hill was murdered by the State of Utah for the crime of filking.

This year’s Joe Hill filk tribute showcases not a song by him, but a song about him: “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night” (YouTube). It tells how a man is murdered but his ideals and example becomes much more powerful because of that. By being murdered, Joe Hill became the man that never died.

Earlier this year, I read up a bit of fridging, and the two patterns felt like they sort of complemented each other. And there are arguably two cases of fridging that are famous and can be said to encompass much of its spectrum. The first is Gwen Stacy. The second is Barbara Gordon.

But Barbara Gordon is the woman who walked out of the fridge… )

I dreamed last night of Oracle… )

There are lots of great versions of the original song. My favourite is the driving anger of Luke Kelly's version, but this one needed a woman's voice, thus Joan Baez's take on it.

My previously posted Joe Hill filks: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017.
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On November 19th 1915, Joe Hill was murdered by the State of Utah for the crime of filking.

While listening through a few more of Joe Hill's songs and trying to decide on this year's Joe Hill filk, I decided to read a bit on the history of Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay, and promptly fell down a rabbit hole of high-class St. Louis bordellos, early ragtime music, and minstrel shows. Given the continuing discussion about appropriation and racism within science fiction my choice became simple: just write the history of the song, but there was no way to include it all.

A smart and stylish song is due… )

My previously posted Joe Hill filks: 2014, 2015, 2016.
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On November 19th 1915, Joe Hill was murdered by the State of Utah for the crime of filking.

This one was written October 4th, based on Joe Hill's 1913 song What We Want, set to the tune Rainbow from 1908 by Percy Wenrich (note: a so-called Indian Song). I had never heard the tune or the song before [livejournal.com profile] patoadam sent me a copy of John McCutcheon's CD "Joe Hill's Last Will", for which I am very thankful. The song was meant as a celebration of what I and others wanted to achieve with Worldcon 75.

Then, just a few days later, [livejournal.com profile] filkerdave and Worldcon 75 had their huge falling out.

Needless to say, my feelings towards this song are very conflicted right now. I know it can need quite a bit more polishing, but at the same time it's hard for me to get back to it.

We want the reader and the writer and the cosplayer… )

My previously posted Joe Hill filks: 2014, 2015
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Today, it is exactly one hundred years since Joe Hill was murdered by the state of Utah, to some degree for the crime of filking. Salt Lake Tribune has a wonderful site documenting the events.

So last year I filked his songs "The Rebel Girl" and "It's a Long Way Down to the Soup Line". This year, I have written some new filks, and also found some old filk, based on songs written by Joe Hill.

Back in 1981, the Swedish fan, translator, and author Gunnar Gällmo was angry at Swedish sf publisher and author Sam J Lundwall due to crappy pay, so he wrote a song, first published in the fanzine Fanytt (edited by Swedish BNF Ahrvid Engholm). It's based on "Svarta präster", the Swedish translation of Joe Hill's most famous song, "The Preacher and the Slave" (which is itself based on "In the Sweet Bye and Bye").

Plankstek )

(I've done a few minor changes for better singability compared to Gunnar's first version.)

Of course, "The Preacher and the Slave" is an excellent song, so Kate Gladstone wrote a fabolous set of new lyrics for it as well, called "Brand Name Bullies". Lyrics and recording can be found on the FilkArchive. The good thing about these is that I can skip filking that song with a clear conscience.

Instead I have filked Joe Hill's "There Is Power in a Union", based on the old spiritual "There Is Power in the Blood".

There Is Power in a Fandom )

But once I started to explore Joe Hill's songs again, I found another great idea for a fan-topical song, this time in celebration of our own brand of community-focused and -run cons. It's based on Hill's "Nearer My Job to Thee", based on "Nearer, My God, to Thee".

Nearer My Con to Thee )

Feel free to replace Swecon with the name of another con that's important to you. "Kollektinbug" goes back to the old fan classic The Enchanted Duplicator. No insult intended to cosplayers, who I often have found to the wonderful people, but they tend to value other types of events and interaction than I do.

I do have a third Joe Hill filk, though this came about when I talked about the planets with my daughter, and decided to write a song about the planets. I wanted to write a reasonably short one, but when digging up for melodies I hit on Joe Hill's "The Tramp", based on the American Civil War Song "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!", and ended up writing a far too long song.

Planetsången )

It has proved to be quite the hit in my family, though I'm not that happy with the two last verses—they are a bit overlapping. I can recommend not singing every single chorus, unless one wants a pizza song.
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On November 19th 1915, Joe Hill was murdered by the State of Utah for the crime of filking.

Taken at face value, it's an absurd statement. But there is a nugget of truth in it.

If a core activity of filking is defined as writing new lyrics to existing songs, where the new lyrics are purposefully set to resonate or being in dialogue with the old lyrics, then the Industrial Workers of the World was one big filking union. And Joe Hill was the finest filker of them all.

The True Fan Girl

This is my attempt to honour both Joe Hill and the girls and women who today demand their right to be fans, despite Gamergate, rabid weasels within SFWA, or people ranting about "social justice warriors". It's based on his original song The Rebel Girl.

And who still gets lots of crap when they do so, or even only make themselves known or present.

The Swedish version of the song is dedicated to Ylva Spångberg, Anna (Åka) Davour, and my wife Therese. It is based on Jacob Branting's translation from 1969.

En fannisk tjej )

Lyrics, notation, and chords. (I can't guarantee it's error-free, though.)

The English version is dedicated to Farah Mendlesohn, Mary Robinette Kowal, and my daughter Hulda. I'd like to express my gratitude to [livejournal.com profile] thnidu, who critiqued and improved both grammar, metric, and rhyming.

The True Fan Girl )

If you want to listen to Joe Hill's original, I can recommend the following three versions:

Since the song is not that well-known nowadays, here are PDF Notes and MIDI files (probably using Dickens' revision, sadly). I've also created my own set of lyrics, notation, and chords. If you find any errors, please let me know.

It's a Long Way to the Con Suite

Of course, my filking brain didn't stop there. In 1914, while in prison, Joe Hill was asked to write a song about the souplines for the unemployed in San Francisco based on It's a Long Way to Tipperary. After he received the notes and lyrics, he wrote It's a Long Way to the Soupline. Which I've now filked yet again.

It's a Long Way to the Con Suite )





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