I sat down to do an inventory of my filk collection and got swept away by a tsunami of nostalgia. I ended up practially writing my memoirs instead. Well, maybe someone would like to read about The Grand Old Days of Filk, so I'm posting this.
I went to my first Convention in 1975 and when the costume contest was late starting, as usual, they handed out a lyric sheet and had the whole room, a couple thousand people, singing filk songs. I was hooked. I ran a Star Trek correspondence club, The Association for the Propagation of Trekkism (APT) and some of the folks I tape corresponded with sent me recordings of filk sessions at cons. I probably bought Leslie Fish’s album, Solar Sailors, as soon as it came out.
She was the only filker whose name I knew until, in 1982, I went to attend the wedding of one of my penpals. Julia Ecklar was in the group who met me at the bus station. What started out as a short stay for the wedding got extended to three weeks so I could go with them to the premier of the Wrath of Khan and a Convention.
Julia sang at the wedding. She did that professionally for others and I later got to attend a rehearsal where she was singing with church organ and church acoustics and it was wonderful. But this was a fan wedding between two of her roommates, and it was just her and her guitar. In true filk tradition, she forgot some of the words to "Sunrise, Sunset" so made up some of her own. It was done so smoothly, and her words were so good, that no one noticed. The groom's father started to cry during it.
Slight aside: Before that visit, I was afraid of cats; all animals, really. Julia and roommates had just gotten a new kitten, FizzGig. The kitten slept with me and I was smitten. Julia told me I was a cat person and I replied, shocked, that I’d never had a cat and was afraid of them.
But her words stuck with me and when I got a roommate who wanted to get a cat, I agreed. Again, I was smitten. When I got a second cat from a shelter, I named her “Julia.” I pulled out my “birthday dates” book and counted back the 10 weeks of the kitten’s age, only to find “Julia” was already written there. I heard Twilight Zone music. But it was the other Julia, of course. Just a coincidence.
I started volunteering at the shelter where I adopted Julia, and have been involved in animal rescue ever since, now being one of those crazy cat ladies people make fun of. That's why I told this whole story – to explain why it's so appropriate for me to be raising money for animals by selling my filk collection.
After that visit in 1982, there were many other visits between us as well as a tape correspondence. I moved to the West Coast in 1983, while Julia and her roommates, as well as my family, were on the East Coast, so I took to taking all my vacation at once, spending Christmas with my family, as a depressing duty and New Years with Julia and company as a reward. I suppose I inspired my favorite Julia song,”Home for Christmas.” I got as much Julia on tape as possible, some of it now on the Virtual Filksing.
It’s amusing to note, I thought then that Leslie and Julia were the standard of filkers, and knew I wasn't talented enough to become one myself. *guffaw* Eventually I attended a few filks and decided if so many untalented people had the courage to sing in public, I could, too.
For 5 years I lived in Lake Elsinore, just about between LA and San Diego, so I often attended filksings in both cities. The highest compliment I ever got for a performance was singing Julia’s “Legacy” When I was done there was a dead silence until someone chimed in, “Well, let’s all go slit our wrists now!”
I once asked Julia why so many of her songs were ose and she said anyone could write a song that would make people laugh. It was much more of a challenge to write songs to make people cry.
In my opinion, Julia isn’t just the best filker, but the best musician I’ve ever heard. I sure wish she'd record more.