May. 1st, 2009

bnewman: (explorer)
My, it's been a long time. There have been a number of exciting things that happened that I meant to post something about, and then didn't. Someday, maybe, I will. I've been preoccupied, and I've been thinking that any day now I'll redo my website, and have been holding off updating my current website for that reason.

Setting all that aside, here's a post on the topic of pseudofilks, or cryptofilks, or whatever you want to call these things...

Often, when writing a song parody, I'll keep a line from the original song intact. Sometimes, that line motivated the parody in the first place. Other times, it comes as a surprise, even to me. Usually, the context of the filk changes the meaning of the line in a way that's particularly ironic, poignant, or otherwise powerful or punchliney. I mentioned a number of these at a song-parody-writing panel at Arisia.

And then there are the songs where, once I realize the twist that makes the parody work, the region of lyrics that can be kept, albeit with a changed meaning, grows and grows until it swallows the whole song. All the lyrics exactly the same. Then what? How do you perform such a filk — what establishes the context that changes the meaning, that makes the difference between the filk and the original song? These oddities are what I'm calling "pseudofilks".

The possibility of having a beloved song ruined for you forever minor, implicit spoilers for Babylon 5, and major spoilers for A Fire Upon the Deep follow after the cut )
bnewman: (damselfly)

I've been meaning to write something on this topic for a long time, and the universe, being wise, conspired to get it written today. I davened today in a clearing in the woods behind Avery Park in Newtonville, on my way to my Pilates class. Apple trees are blossoming all over, and Newton is full of them. And the dance between my Jewish and pagan identities and practices is in full swing. It must be spring! (Happy May Day!)

The Jewish practice of going out into nature to pray doesn't really need an apology from me — Reb. Nachman said it much better — but this is a topic that's dear to me, and it seemed like a good case for one of those perky essay-songs in which I explain my worldview in rhyming stanzas. Indeed, if that chord sequence hiding under the talking blues line sounds familiar, it's because you may have heard it before. Right, or you might not have, because I didn't put up an MP3 of that song until quite recently, so there you go.

And here you go:

"B'Tzibbur"
lyrics and music by Benjamin Newman

Lots of lyrics and footnotes after the cut )

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