Stuff We Love: Tom Smith’s music makes fandom something to sing about

Contributed by
Jan 28, 2018

Sometimes, you love a movie or a show with so much enthusiasm that you just want to sing about it. If you’re singer/songwriter Tom Smith, you sing about Hellraiser, Firefly, Star Trek, dragons, side kicking, and even the legendary actor Peter Lorre. And he does it with skill and style.

Smith is a "filker,” that is, someone who sings filk songs. Filk, a play on the word “folk,” are songs typically set to someone else’s music with geeky lyrics. (Filking began at literary conventions, just as cosplay did. But unlike cosplay, it hasn’t seemed to have crossed over into media conventions.)

As with the better filkers, Smith occasionally writes his own music, too. But although his music is fun, I enjoy his lyrics better. Here’s a snippet from one of his songs, an Elvis Presley/Lord of the Rings mashup, "Return of the King, Uh-Huh,” which is filled with Tolkien-inspired puns. 

Well, everyone said that I was dead, 
Or maybe Ara-Goin' off to hide, 
But I just kicked back to get on track, 
And wait till I hit my my Stride. 

I got my Rangers hoppin' 
Down the misty murky Moria Line, 
And there ain't gonna be no stoppin' 
Till the Pelennor Fields are mine.


Although Smith’s music is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, he is at his core a romantic, and many of his songs are heart-meltingly sentimental and sweet. As an example, I offer "Starlight and Saxophone," about a person who’s suffering from loneliness during a trip to space: 

It's three o'clock in the morning, ship time, 
Only five more hours to go. 
How many miles will pass before us, 
How many years will pass below? 

… We're doing point nine C, but there's no 
Rush of wind to make me feel that speed, 
The only sound is my own heart beating, 
And that's not the sound I need. 


There ought to be a saxophone, playing softly in the night, 
A lonely, gentle melody to make me feel all right, 
But I left that all behind me, with the only one who might 
Have heard me play, 
She's so far away. 


When he isn’t singing about general geekery, including "Talk Like a Pirate Day," Smith takes a turn to the political. Recent songs include "Automatic Universal Voter Registration” (set to the tune of “Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious”) and “Golden Showers" (an extremely NSFW song set to the tune of The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight”).

Believe me, I don’t love all filk music, which is frequently sung with more enthusiasm than actual talent. But when it’s good, such as with Smith, it brings me to a toe-tapping happy place. And what better song to sway to than one about love of Watchmen's Rorschach? 


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