Musician Tom Smith (author of the Talk Like a Pirate Day theme song and Girl Genius’ Transylvania Polygnostic University Fight Song, and a.k.a. filkertom on LiveJournal) is in the hospital after a nasty injury, facing expensive surgery and months of hospital bills…without insurance. And of course he can’t work while he’s in the hospital.
A bunch of other musicians in the filk community have put together a benefit album, “Mr. Smith Goes to the Hospital,” and are providing it as a download for people who donate to help him cover the bills.
What is filk music? There’s no solid consensus, but I think the simplest answer is: music about other media, by its fans. Songs about Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings, for instance. Arguably “The Ballad of Barry Allen” could be considered a filk. Sometimes with original music, often setting new lyrics to other people’s songs (“piggyback filk”). Most filkers just do it as a hobby (I’ve written a few filksongs myself, mostly back in high school and college), but some manage to eke out a living — or supplement one — by performing and selling recordings.
My wife and I have picked up a couple of his albums since we heard “Five Years” — a Babylon 5 filk to the tune of Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” — at a Loscon a few years ago (back when we still went to Loscon).