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Thirteen Chord Songs

by Rob Wynne
TTTO: “Secondhand Songs” by Jonathan Turner

Sharing songs in the filkcircle
I hear a tune that’s quite new
And I know at first listen
It’s one that I’d like to do
But I cannot decipher
Just the way it should go
So I ask for the chords
And he looks at me bored
As he says “Well, you know

I write thirteen chord songs
Songs in tunings bizarre
I don’t expect you to play them
You won’t know what they are
The patterns aren’t simple
It’s 7/4 time, it’s long
Oh your fingers will burn
If you sit down and learn
one of my thirteen chord songs.”

I’m not much with an instrument
I guess I play well enough
All my strumming is simple
Sometimes my changes are rough
And this song that he’s playing
Remains just out of my reach
But if i’m put to the test
I will still do my best
As I battle with each

Of these thirteen chord songs
Songs with rhythms complex
I don’t know why I try them
They always leave me quite vexed
My fingers are cramping
But still I soldier along
As I struggle to wrest
Some kind of tune from this mess
Of a thirteen chord song

So I went to my best friend
He plays much better than me
He said “This song’s not as tricky
As he’d like you to believe
Half these chords are for colour
And these two just for show
Put a capo on three
Now the whole things in G
And you’re ready to go

With this now four chord song”
The arrangement is spare
It is slightly less nuanced
But I don’t really care
Because now I can play it
And it doesn’t sound wrong
You can keep all your tricks
and your riffs and your licks
In your thirteen chord song

You can keep all your tricks
and your riffs and your licks
In your thirteen chord song

Although it’s down to four
I still need stamina more
’cause it’s an eight minute song

I wrote this song years ago, but somehow never got around to posting it, and then came across it again while putting together my OVFF 2018 Toastmaster concert setlist, so I saved it to include there before putting it out into the world.

I should note that while the original idea for this was based on a true story, no one was has ever dismissive and rude to me when I’ve asked for chords. I just thought it was funnier to imagine someone who was. ūüôā

The original song, by New England area filker Jonathan Turner, is terrific, and I recommend seeking it out if you can.

Country Response

Country Response
by Rob Wynne
TTTO: “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” by Steve Goodman and John Prine

Well, it was all I could do to keep from dying
Somehow it seems I’m able to remain
You know I’ve always loved you for your body
Right now I only want you for your brain

You don’t have to call me George Romeo
You don’t have to call me James Gunn
You don’t have to call me Simon Pegg anymore
Even so, I think you’d better run

And I’ll chase you down as long as you run from me
I’ve never minded shamblin’ through the rain
You know I’ve always loved you for your body
Right now I only want you for your brain

Well, I polished off the dog for lunch this morning
So now you will not let me in your bed
I really hoped you wouldn’t notice I had changed
Before I started gnawing on your head.

And I’ll chase you down as long as you run from me
I’ve never minded shamblin’ through the rain
You know I’ve always loved you for your body
Right now I only want you for your brain

(Spoken: My friend Seanan McGuire wrote a song. She said it was the perfect Country & Western song. I said it was NOT the perfect Country and Western Song. It doesn’t mention mama. It doesn’t mention prison. There’s not a single train in it. And she said, “Dude, zombies.” Which is, I admit, a fair point.)

Well ever since I went and got myself infected
Ain’t nothing round this town that’s been the same
And I know I’ve never been the perfect husband
But is it fair to give me all the blame?

And I’ll chase you down as long as you run from me
I’ve never minded shamblin’ through the rain
You know I’ve always loved you for your body
Right now I only want you for your brain

This popped into my head in the shower this morning.

Press Gang (Ya Got Trouble)

Press Gang (Ya Got Trouble)
by Robert Wynne
Music: “Ya Got Trouble” by Meredith Wilson (from¬†The Music Man)
© 2007

Well, either you’re closing your eyes
To a situation you do not wish to acknowledge
Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated
By the presence of a film crew at your convention

Well, Ya got trouble, my friend, right here,
I say, trouble right here at your convention
Why sure I’m a filking fan
Certainly mighty proud I say
I’m always mighty proud to say it.
I consider that the hours I spend
With an axe in my hand are golden.
Help you cultivate rhythm sense
And a cool hand and a keen mind.
D’ya ever take and try to get
A round of applause for yourself
From a three verse parody?
But just as I say,
It takes judgment, brains, and maturity to play
In a chaos circle
I say that any boob kin take
And film a song with a camera
And I call that sloth.
The first big step on the road
To the depths of deg-ra-Day–
I say, first, newspaper men writing features
Then TV reporters!

An’ the next thing ya know,
Your fan is singin’ for money in a video
And list’nin to some big out-a-town jasper
Hearin’ him tell about Creation conventions
Not a wholesome fannish con, no!
But a con where they charge for the autographs!
Like to see some stuck-up filker’boy goin’ on Wife Swap?
Make your blood boil?
Well, I should say.

Now, friends, lemme tell you what I mean.
Ya got one, two, three, four, five, six guitarists in a circle
Guitarists that mark the diff’rence
Between a filkcon and distress
With a capital “D,”
And that rhymes with “P” and that stands for press!

And all weekend your convention fans’ll be frittern away,
I say your good fen’ll be frittern!
Frittern away their circle time, panel time, concerts too!
Get the song on the camera
Never mind gittin’ chairs in a circle
Or the flyers set out or the mics set up
Never mind pourin’ any water
‘Til your filkers are caught with the pitcher empty
On a Saturday night and that’s trouble,
Yes we got lots and lots a’ trouble.
I’m thinkin’ of the fans in the beanie-hats
Button-mail true fen, peekin’ in the filk room window at the mess
Ya Got trouble, folks, right here at your convention
Trouble with a capital “T”
And that rhymes with “P” and that stands for press!

Now, I know all you folks are the right kinda fans
I’m gonna be perfectly frank.
Would ya like to know what kinda conversation goes
On while they’re loafin’ around that camera?
They’re tryin’ out bumpers, tryin’ out slow fades
Tryin’ out SFX like video fiends!
And braggin’ all about
How they’re gonna cover up a tell-tale flub with a punch-in!

One fine night, they leave the filk room
Headin’ for the party on the third floor
Anime fen and Star Trek watchers!
And electronic, shameless music
That’ll grab your fan, your filker
With the arms of a TV media instinct!
Mass-staria!

Friends, the filmer’s lens is the devil’s playground!

Trouble, (oh we got trouble),
Right here at your convention
(Right here at our convention!)
With a capital “T” that rhymes with “P”
And that stands for press,
(That stands for press.)
You’e surely got trouble
(We’ve surely got trouble!)
Right here at your convention!
(Right here!)
Gotta figger out a way
To keep the filkroom pure and a success
(Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble…)

Fans of this convention!
Heed that warning before it’s too late!
Watch for the tell-tale sign of press infiltration
The moment that fan enters the room
Does he rearrange the buttons pinned below his badge?
Is there a pencil impression on his index finger?
A video camera hidden in his backpack?
Is he starting to memorize jokes from hallway conversations?
Are certain words creeping into his vocabulary?
Words like…like ‘quote?”
Ah-ha! And ‘can we get some better lighting?”

Well, if so my friends,
Ya got trouble,
(Oh, we got trouble!)
Right here in at your convention
(Right here at our convention!)
With a capital “T”
And that rhymes with “P”
And that stands for press.
(That stands for press!)
We’ve surely got trouble!
(We’ve surely got trouble!)
Right here at your convention!
(Right here!)
Remember Gafilk, FKO, and all the rest!

Oh, we’ve got trouble.
We’re in terrible, terrible trouble.
Those guys with the cameras takin’ notes are the devil’s guests!
(Devil’s guests!)
Oh yes we got trouble, trouble, trouble!
(Oh yes we got trouble, yes we got big big trouble!)
With a “T”! Gotta rhyme it with “P”!
And that stands for press!!!
(That stands for press!!!)

Aurel Vixation

Aural Vixation
by Robert Wynne
Music: “The Girl Who’s Never Been” by¬†Michelle Dockrey
© 2006

This last weekend I had gone to an SF music con
And I sat down at the concert Friday night
Songs of battle filled the room, torch songs followed none too soon
And the classic songs were all a big delight
Having heard all of the rest, the last set would decide the best —
On the stage there stepped a girl with hair of red.
And she sang to us this song; although it wasn’t very long
Since that moment it’s been trapped and it won’t get out of my head!

Save me! Save me!
It’s trapped in my head, you see!
Oh no, I think it’s starting up again!
Save me! Save me!
It won’t leave my memory!
I swear, this is the song that never ends!

Many other songs were played, I’m not quite sure why this one stayed;
Four days later and it’s still on endless play.
Other earworms can’t prevail, even “It’s A Small World” failed,
But it’s stuck in here and it won’t go away
So I went to see the girl who let it loose upon the world
She said “My lord, aren’t you guys sick of it by now?”
I suppose it could be worse, at least this is a pleasant curse
But I would send it out of my head if you’d only tell me how!

Save me! Save me!
It’s trapped in my head, you see
Oh no, I think it’s starting up again
Save me! Save me!
It won’t leave my memory
I swear, this is the song that never ends

Just another west coast filker singing her songs late at night
Sitting with her pers’nal guitarist and notebook held too tight
Just a singer in the circle with a smile bright as the sun
But I don’t know how she does the things she’s done

“Oh, take pity on me please! I’ll even get down on my knees!”
I begged her to relieve my aching brain
She said “Well, now since it’s you, I guess I’ll see what I can do”
And with a wink began to sing again
Well, I sat and listened well as she began to tell the tale
Of the man who makes a family of his crew
And it wasn’t very long until she finished up the song
And now where there’d been just one song, there suddenly were two!

Take love! Take land!
Take the place where I can stand!
But you can’t take the sky away from me!
Take out! To black!
Tell them that I won’t be back
I swear, you cannot take the sky from me!

And she faded, leaving just this parody

Where’s The Filkcircle

Where’s The Filkcircle
by Robert Wynne
Music: “Where’s the Orchestra” by Billy Joel
© 2006

Where’s the filkcircle?
Wasn’t this supposed to be an SF con?
Here I am, wandering the halls
How the hell could I have missed rousing guitars?

I liked the masquerade
Even though I had absolutely no idea at all
What was being said in all the panel talks
There’s the big name fan
The leading pro who never left the audience

Where’s the filkcircle?
After all, this is my big weekend from home
My trip to faerie, or the stars to roam
I assumed that a con would have a song
So I was wrong
So I’ll just sit right here
And play my guitar softly in the atrium
Then slowly one or two
Stop to hear a song
Then sit and sing along

And after the con is done
And after the last dog falls
The last note calls
From an open chord
At the filkcircle

Musing On Jane

Musing On Jane
by Robert Wynne
Music: “Jane” by Barenaked Ladies
© 2005

She lives inside my head, sweet Jane the muse
She lives on fiction, cigarettes and booze
She dictates plots to me and I just weep
I wish she would shut up and let me sleep
Jane, doesn’t seem to understand I have to work
Jane, doesn’t care that she is acting like a jerk
Jane
Jane

I wrote a story and thought it was grand
I didn’t know she had four sequels planned
I must look like a crazy foreigner
Arguing with myself on street corners
Jane, has more ideas than I’ve hours in the day
Jane, pesters me all night and will not go away
Jane
Jane

I wrote a novel
DAW should have got it yesterday
Why it would be best now to take a short rest now
is what I cannot explain to Jane

Still living in my head, sweet Jane the muse
Still sending more ideas than I can use
I’m not sure how she got inside my brain
I write her words out longhand on the train
Jane, has yet another trilogy for me to write
Jane, doesn’t see why I think I should sleep tonight
Jane
Jane

Two Of Dave

Two of Dave
by Robert Wynne
Music: “Yesterday” by John Lennon & Paul McCartney
© 2002

Two of Dave
One to pass around, and one to save
For whenever you can’t fight that crave
It’s useful to have two of Dave

Suddenly
Dave is twice the man he used to be
Clone him one more time and you’d have three
To offer up for company

Which one is the clone?
Which is real? I couldn’t say.
They’re both just alike,
right down to the DNA

Two of Dave
One more than his lovely mother gave
And we give to both a joyous rave
review for two, who both are Dave
This was an instafilk that came out on¬†#filkhaven.¬†Dave Weingart¬†was lamenting being unable to attend¬†OVFF¬†due to a scheduling conflict, and Heather Munn said she was continuing to “work on that cloning device, so there can be two of Dave”. This just sorta flowed out.

Rockin’ Argo

Rockin’ Argo
by Robert Wynne
Music: “Rockin’ Robin” (Bobby Day (by way of Tom Smith))
© 2002

When we pulled into Argo for some R and R
We set out to investigate each joint and bar
We thought we’d enjoy their hospitality
But found it wasnt geared for spacers such as we

Banned from Argo
Banned from Argo
Oh, Banned from Argo, they don’t want us at that port anymore…

(Bridge) Our brave captain’s dating methods were complex
Each partner was of a different world and sex
When the shore police came, we took our chance
Beamed him back aboard but we lost his pants

Our chief engineer was a champion sot
He outdrank the whole bar and that’s a lot
Our navigator finished up in second place
And parked his shuttle in the strangest place

Banned from Argo
Banned from Argo
Oh, Banned from Argo, they don’t want us at that port anymore…

(Bridge)
Our first officer was drugged by something green
And taught the bridge computer how to be obscene
The nurse went shopping in the potion mart
And came home naked with a cheerful heart

The doctor caused a riot and he went to jail
But we got him back aboard without a cent of bail
Our helmsmen went ashore with some odd plant life
And got tangled up with the gov’ners wife

Banned from Argo
Banned from Argo
Oh, Banned from Argo, they don’t want us at that port anymore…

(Bridge)
Oh a group of pirates came to do the town
but nobody noticed that they were around
When they came into the bar where we were that night
They took one look and ran away in fright

Our crew works hard and we’re Starfleets best
But we tend to leave a trail when we stop to rest
We’re sorry for the damage we did, you can bet
But now at least we’re sure that they won’t forget!

Banned from Argo
Banned from Argo
Oh, Banned from Argo, they don’t want us at that port anymore…

Normal filkers just write parodies to the tune of “Banned From Argo” Not me. I have to rewrite Argo to some other tune. This one was inspired by a challenge in rec.music.filk. Honestly, I think I did it better the¬†first time

Terence Chua Could Filk It

Terence Chua Could Filk It
by Robert Wynne and Brenda Sutton
Music: “Christine Lavin Could Do It” by Cheryl Wheeler
© 2001

“It started with an idea but it got so out of hand
Now they scream for songs of Hastur to the tunes of Swedish Bands
I tell them that i’m over that, but they don’t really seem to see
That I’m sick of doing HPL, there has to be much more to me!”

They all scream “Terence Chua can filk it!
They all shout “Terence Chua’s the man!”
Well he crosses the Pacific just to sing his little song
It’s to the tune of “Waterloo” about the thousand young
Oh, Terence Chua could filk it!

I said “Hey listen up, that stuff is just a small part of the whole
I’d rather do some R&B, a little Fanboy Soul
I’ve moved on to other things now, Cthulhu’s not my only game!”
They all said “Sorry buster, but you know you’ve only got yourself to blame!”

And they scream “Terence Chua can filk it!
They all shout “Terrence Chua’s the man!”
Well he crosses the Pacific just to sing his little song
It’s to the tune of “Waterloo” about the thousand young
Oh, Terence Chua could filk it!

I grabbed my ukelele and ran screaming down the hall.
They trapped me in the filkroom and they pinned me to the wall
Shouting, “Sing Nyarlathotep or we’ll force feed you on bad bok choy.
You are the Bard of ol’ Cthulhu and we’re just your little Fan Boy Toys!”

And they scream “Terence Chua can filk it!
They all shout “Terrence Chua’s the man!”
Well he crosses the Pacific just to sing his little song
It’s to the tune of “Waterloo” about the thousand young
Oh, Terence Chua could filk it!

Terence Chua was the Interfilk guest to the Ohio Valley Filk Festival in 2001, the same year as my good friends Three Weird Sisters were the Guests of Honor. Some time before the con, Terence made the comment to me that he was tired of people only knowing him for his Lovecraft/ABBA parodies, and thinking that was all he did.

So we hatched a plot. I came up with an idea for a song about Terence, and Brenda and I wrote it. At the end of their Guest of Honor concert, the Sisters called Terence up on the stage, sat him in a chair, facing the audience, and proceeded to perform the song while Erica Neely, Jodi Krangle, and Debbie Ridpath Ohi all played fawning fangirls around him. Daniel Glasser got photographs. (Use the arrow keys to scroll through the photos, and the Home button to return to this page.)

This song inspired David Rood’s¬†I Wanna Be Filked By the Three Weird Sisters, and was published in the ConCertino 2003 sonbook.

Keep You Closer

Keep You Closer
Words and Music by Robert Wynne
© 2001

For all my chosen family throughout the filk community,
and especially for LM, who is ever in my heart.

We come from different corners of the world
And the times that our paths will cross are few
A few short weekends through the year
And then it’s time to go
And parting ways is always hard to do

But give me just a minute to embrace you
To hold you close before you turn away
A moment to remind you
That we’re closer than the miles
To keep until we meet another day

If I could hold the world inside these arms
If I could build a bridge across the sea
If I could shrink the miles that lie between us
I’d keep you closer every day to me

If the world were only a bit smaller
Then parting wouldn’t be a time for tears
But the shuttle waits to take you home
And on a plane you’ll soon be gone
And we may not meet again until next year

(chorus)

Slowly now we pull apart and smile and say goodbye
I pack my bags into my car and go
And though there is a sadness
that must come with each farewell
I love you, and that’s all you need to know

(chorus x2)

Of all the songs I’ve written, this one is probably the one that means the most to me, personally. And yes, while it is about a lot of people on one level, when I wrote it I had a certain few individuals on my mind. I’m very happy to say that, a year later, I did manage to shrink the miles between myself and one of those individuals, and the two of us are very happy being closer every day.

This song was published with sheet music in the Gafilk 2002 songbook.

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