The King's Lute

by Cat Faber

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about

Songs about books, authors, science fiction and fantasy fans, canoe building, and other things dear to my heart. These songs were mostly written during 2011.

credits

released July 28, 2012

Cat Faber: vocals, mandolin, octave mandolin, bodhran.
Mary Crowell: piano
Peter Alway: mountain dulcimer
Tod Wills: cover artist
Randolph Fritz: graphic design
Bill and Gretchen Roper, Peter Alway: mastering consultants
Special thanks to Alice Tinkley, for reminding me I could do this.

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about

Cat Faber Tennessee

I write music about science fiction and fantasy subjects, commonly referred to as "filk."

I write much faster than I can record. Recent songs may be found at my website--the URL is given below.

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Track Name: The King's Lute
The King's Lute
lyrics by Catherine Faber, 2011
melody by Peter Alway, 2011

Oh the King possessed a lute; it sat gleaming by day
And the timbre of its voice, there's no courtier could say
But it murmured from the windows where candlelight shone
Of joy, and of sorrow, when the King was alone.

Under his window I'd sit on the stair
My chin in my hand, and the rain in my hair
My shirt growing damper, but what did I care?
With my heart warmed by music, when the King was alone

To the servants he was kind, but reserved, and august,
To the court, though he was fair, there were few he could trust
For his lady wife was dead, and his children were grown,
And the lute still remembered, when the King was alone.

I was weeding in the garden, in spring morning light
With a music in my throat I had heard in the night.
Gleaming boots paused once beside me, on a path of white stone;
As I knelt in the cabbages, the King walked alone.

The people heard his will, when his time came to die.
When my name was read, was no one more startled than I.
Into cold and shaking hands, was a legacy thrown--
The lute that had spoken when the King was alone.

When the children of his children are ashes and bone,
When the stories pile deep, and his glories have flown--
When his lineage is forgotten, his songs will be known
That the King's lute would murmur, when the King was alone...
Songs of joy, and of sorrow, when the King was alone.
Track Name: Art Feeds Life
Art Feeds Life
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2011

Art feeds life and life feeds art
And art feeds life, but you know you need
Guts and brains to follow your heart
Into the life you dared to start
And the dreams that sometimes make you bleed.

So you pay the price assessed
Burn bright, beating back dark of death
Still you feel in your secret chest
There are times that you wish for rest
More than water or food or breath.

You're glad you made the crossroad deal.
You swore to go to any length,
And all your friends who wish you weal,
Straighten spines of silver and steel;
Tap their spirits to will you strength

Strongly though you wish to stay,
The story calls you down the road;
You know you can't go on this way.
Still you think for one more day,
If you stand up straight you can bear the load.

Art feeds life and life feeds art
And art feeds life, but you know you need
Guts and brains to follow your heart
Into the life you dared to start
And the dreams that sometimes make you,
they sometimes make you bleed.
Track Name: Somebody Is Waiting
Somebody is waiting
lyrics and music by Catherine Faber, 1999

I have heard the song that every prisoner knows
How death is only freedom in her working clothes
Between my death and freedom lies a hell of a toll
Somebody is waiting to eat my soul.

Now every time I falter, in danger's face
Behind the door of death I hear a voice saying grace
Make my shroud a napkin and my coffin a bowl
Somebody is waiting to eat my soul.

So call me a coward but I can't forget
That I am always working without a net.
Silverware is gleaming, there is wine, and a roll
Somebody is waiting to eat my soul

I did the gods a favor by the river banks
And they left a little gift by way of saying thanks
Never touch a god, not with a twenty foot pole;
Somebody is waiting to eat my soul.

I have heard the song that every prisoner knows
How death is only freedom in her working clothes
Between my death and freedom lies a hell of a toll
Somebody is waiting to eat my soul.
Track Name: Sociopaths
Sociopaths
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2011

Emotions are catching; I'm sad when you cry;
You're cheered by the joy in a sparkling eye--
Sympathy sways us like music so clear,
That four in a hundred can't hear...

So they no more can share in your pain or your glee,
Than a deaf child can hear or a blind child can see;
Human their seeming, their speaking, their stride--
But they're not really human inside.

Our ancestors thought that some folk you might meet
Seem human, but only by glamour's deceit,
And even the best who fell under their sway,
Came to grief at the hands of the Fae.

Some seek sensation, wherever it leads,
They don't give a damn who is ruined, who bleeds,
And when they're discovered, the wreckage laid bare,
They plead for your pity and care.

To them trapping the moral in nets of deceit
Making of conscience a snare for your feet
Tormenting the weak, or destroying the strong
Is a game, with no right, and no wrong.

(chorus)

Like the Fae, some are monsters who murder for years,
While some are more subtle, but live to drink tears,
And some think a meal ticket simply their due,
And are happy to batten on you.

The Fae can be seen through a hole in a stone
And by these three signs is a sociopath known:
Duty neglected, however it cries--
Promises broken, and lies.

(chorus)
Track Name: Oak And Ash
Oak And Ash
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, copyright 2011

Oak and ash to brace and bind,
Rowan and thorn to ward and wind,
On the burden I had from you,
A key that knows what it's meant to do,
Rose and bramble are intertwined.

Oak and ash to hold the field,
Rowan and thorn to shape and shield,
To catch your killer would mean a fight
There's a reason you bound a knight.
I may lose, but I never yield.

Oak and ash to front the fray
Rowan and thorn to mark the way.
Just how long is your curse's chain?
Who am I, to hold domain,
A liege to shelter the least of Fae?

Oak and ash and bone and dust,
Rowan and thorn and faith and trust
Before your eyes were closed for good,
I never knew you understood--
The one who can is the one who must.
Track Name: Last Spaceship
Last Spaceship
Lyrics and Melody by Catherine Faber, 2011

There are friends I see too seldom, there's so much I want to do
See the sights and make strange music there, and better yet, with you
So I'll meet you in two weeks, in that exotic foreign clime
If the last spaceship leaves on time.

If the ship's engines blaze without holds or delays--
Why that boat could amaze in its prime!--
Fortune smiles on strays and audacity pays
If the last spaceship leaves on time!

In the rocket's mighty roar I hear the future's siren call,
From its earliest beginnings I have learned about it all
It's my last big chance to see it, giving up would be a crime--
If the last spaceship leaves on time.

So I'm hazarding adventure, though its nature does depend,
On the luck that follows travelers, not always as a friend,
But I'll dare the deal of fortune, even put it all in rhyme--
If the last spaceship leaves on time.
Track Name: Atheist's Anthem
Atheist's Anthem
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2011

Some call it despair or accuse me of pride
In perceiving no purpose laid down from outside
The world that I see calls for hope and resolve,
Full of good to rejoice in, and evils and problems to solve.

There isn't a Ringmaster—life's not a toy,
But surely a pageant of wonder and joy.
I bring what I hope for, when push comes to shove:
Truth and compassion and justice and laughter and love.

Look up, or look down, to the heavens aglow--
So vast even photons seem lazy and slow.
From the dust of beginnings comes all that we are,
Atoms first forged in the death of the heart of a star.

Born of an instinct not easily stilled,
Ravens are tool-users, bowerbirds build.
As our engineering grows tiny or great,
What will we build or become, in our urge to create?

For wrongs to be righted, for evil to fall
The hands must be ours, if it happens at all.
By our eyes and our minds is the universe known;
If you want purpose, then pick one and make it your own!

There isn't a Ringmaster—life's not a toy,
But surely a pageant of wonder and joy.
I bring what I hope for, when push comes to shove:
Truth and compassion and justice and laughter and love.
Truth and compassion and justice and laughter and love.
Track Name: Hold The Line
Hold The Line
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2011

The employer wants to break us, but the boss is on our side,
And the money this will make us, is worth a little pride.
We will meet their fucking deadline; we will build their damn design;
Hold the line, mates; hold the line!

It's a rotten situation; Let him bitch and strut, and frown--
It takes more than just frustration to break the union down.
So we'll smile and take his money, turn it into yours and mine;
Hold the line, mates; hold the line!

If we break, it won't be funny. He will treat us just the same;
We'll just make a lot less money, and eat a lot more shame.
So we'll build to spec exactly, though it's pearls in front of swine;
Hold the line, mates; hold the line!

Seven twelves at this location. When we're done, for my reward,
I will take that damn vacation I'll be able to afford.
I'll go biking in the mountains, up around the timberline.
Hold the line, mates; hold the line!
Hold the line, mates; hold the line!
Track Name: Providence Skies
Providence Skies
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2011

Through highsec and lowsec the warp engines sound
And through zero-zero, for Providence bound--
For Eve will forever be making it plain:
You have to defend what you want to maintain.

So it's X up for fleet, form up and clear comms
We need more repair ships, and ammo, and bombs,
With fire in our bellies, and stars in our eyes,
We'll scour the pirates from Providence skies!

In deep zero-zero, where trust often dies
Strangers fly safely in Providence skies;
But some would destroy that in hopes to recall
The chaos incarnate of all against all.

Some people are parasites, taking their joy
In friendships they ruin and hopes they destroy
While some folks are builders, who hold in our hearts
A dream that is more than the sum of its parts!

Pirates are poison; no trip is too far
To hound them to death like the vermin they are!
But they are good for one thing—the way that they die
In firework-flowers all over the sky!

(chorus with extra line:)
We'll hunt them like dogs till the last of them dies!
Track Name: All YouR SoNgZ R BeLonG 2 US!
ALL YouR Songz are BeLoNg to US!
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2011

We welcome you--and we love your song
And we'll try our best to sing along
Music lingers in this place
'Cause it can't escape from our embrace!

We'll preserve this song, that brought down the house
With recorder, voices, keyboard, mouse--
With the subtlety of a blunderbuss
All your songs are belong to us!

We must learn this song, cause we love it--yup!
Why it's just so cute, we could eat it up!
We'll perform this song--we'll arrange it too--
For ukelele and kazoo!

We'll arrange this song...

And you'll find next week that the lyrics bent
And no longer say what you thought they meant
You'd stop us treating your song so rough
If you could just stop laughing long enough!

We'll pervert this song...

You'll find pieces scattered, west to east
Like grisly bones from a cannibal feast
As tune--or words--we cheerfully steal
And drop the rest like an orange peel!

We will peel this song...

We will filk this song...
Track Name: Mayday
Mayday
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2011

A Fetch, she wears, through sun and storm,
Mirror of your face and form,
But though your death she's bound to bring,
You can get used to anything--
You can get used to anything.

You're October, she is May;
She is something more than fae,
You are just a Changeling;
You can get used to anything--
You can get used to anything.

May Day dusk she wakes you all,
To drag you to the Beltane Ball,
But while the coffee she will bring,
You can get used to anything--
You can get used to anything.

She can mold to her commands,
Fresh-caught magic in her hands:
A little blood, a little sting...
You can get used to anything;
You can get used to anything.

May is dancing, stomp and whirl,
Courting with a Raven girl,
Back and forward, dip and swing;
You can get used to anything--
You can get used to anything.

Your death will be her end, so hey--
You need a roommate anyway
She does the dishes--that's the thing
You can get used to anything
You can get used to anything!
Track Name: It's Okay To Be Takei
It's Okay To Be Takei
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2011

Some boys love boys, some girls love girls
It's simply how they're made
They too are normal kids, who shouldn't
Have to be afraid

It's okay to be Takei
Some folks are just that way
It's always right to say
It's okay to be Takei

We all have things in common
We're none of us the same
Our differences and samenesses
Were never cause for shame

The way your heart is structured
Is something you can't choose
But keep this knowledge with you
Like a light of many hues.

The wide green earth beneath you,
The open sky above--
Of all the things life offers,
The best was always love
Track Name: True To A 16th
True To A Sixteenth
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2010

I've worked in the boat shop for months now
Building another canoe
And when I am stressing, this boat-builder's blessing
Says what I already knew.

This isn't some space engineering
Sweetie it's cedar and glue
This isn't a rocket you're building--
If it's true to a sixteenth, it's true!

I want to make everything perfect.
It's something I simply can't do.
For comfort in sooth, I must cling to this truth:
If it's true to a sixteenth, it's true.

The forms must be laid out exactly
Any flaw will forever show through.
Any bend, any twist, will forever exist...
If it's true to a sixteenth, it's true.
Track Name: Common Ground
Common Ground
Lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2003

You are the sun, I the sunflower near
Swayed by a music you make but can't hear.
My starveling heart has me twisted around;
Surely, it pleads, we can find common ground.

Blossom and feather, shelter together
Troubles to weather, on common ground.

My folk and yours different paths have to walk,
Lives as distinct as the hawthorn and hawk.
You who are rooted, in blossom are crowned;
Still I can hope to achieve common ground

Firefly-eager, I orbit you now,
Confused as my wee, simple brain will allow.
I cannot surrender this joy I have found;
I'll fight or I'll flee but I'll find common ground

Strange is the counterpoint woven and dared,
Partnered where not even meter is shared;
In juxtaposition new harmonies sound,
Working in concert to make common ground.

(2-beat part lyrics)

Shining flower, so entrancing,
In the sunny meadow dancing,
Hungry winds have turned me round--
Till I stand on common ground

Blossom, feather, stand together,
Storms we'll weather, on common ground.

My folk, your folk, sep'rate walk,
You as free as flying hawk,
I as still as tree green-crowned
Still I hope for common ground.

You call fireflies, to surround me;
You delight me, and confound me.
I must keep this joy I've found;
I will find us common ground!

In the music we discover,
Be my partner, be my lover.
Let our song together sound--
I the descant; you my ground!
Track Name: Wise Hands
Wise Hands
lyrics by Catherine Faber, 2011
melody by Peter Alway, 2011

Partly wood and mostly care
Boats must ever be tight, and fair--
Staunch to answer the storm's demands.
The crew's first guardian ever stands--wise hands!

The captain intrepid, the crew that will dare
Shall heed the adventurer's call
The boat-builder's craftsmanship, born of her care
Unseen, is a partner in all.
Beyond the horizon new worlds to explore--
New winds and new currents run free;
The skill of the builder runs ever before
The root and the heart of the tree, shall sail the sea.

Every plank must be true of grain
Fitted tightly with saw and plane
To brace the hull I will sand and shave
Decks and gunwales to help her brave--the wave

Run the rigging and step the mast;
Stays in tension will hold it fast.
Shape the rudder a course to hold;
Bright at morning the sails dawn gold—unfold!
Track Name: Cedarglass
Cedarglass
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2008

Niad and Dryad are drifting awake
Lazily lifting their heads by the lake
Watching a step-daughter curtsey and pass
Wood's celebration of cedar and glass.

We're shaped by old forces no eye can still see
As shading the sapling is shaping the tree
The mold is long gone, yet its lines still preserve
A sense of the true that informs every curve.

The strength of the heartwood, the sapling's lithe grace,
Bending and twisting to slip into place
Sawdust like pollen, perfume in each grain;
Curls fall like petals from spokeshave and plane.

Stained by my blood and the salt of my tears
Dance on the water and laugh at my fears.
I wish you safe journey, by white ashwood finned,
Light as a leaf on a fortunate wind.
On a fortunate wind.
Track Name: One Salt Sea
One Salt Sea
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2011

The Hollow Hill's a stew it seems, cats have manned the walls
Bogies cling to ceiling beams, pixies roam the halls
Quarter-bloods don't shiver, changelings mingle free
As every rushing river runs to one salt sea.

Blood to blood is calling, salt and water flow,
Closer to the sea as farther back in time we go--
Blood for blood is calling; tears more tears decree
As every rushing river runs to one salt sea.

The past in all its starkness—the traces lay it plain:
Children trapped in darkness, boxes full of pain,
A single silver sliver, to paint the scene for me--
As every rushing river runs to one salt sea.

The kingdoms gird for slaughter, this won't be done in play.
Lives are spilled like water, in war among the fae.
All eagerness, they quiver, deaf to wisdom's plea,
As every rushing river runs to one salt sea.

Two the ocean races that of one blood remain;
A single skin encases the slayers and the slain,
But blood will blood deliver, though later comes the fee,
As every rushing river runs to one salt sea.
Track Name: Boats Have Bones
Boats Have Bones
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2011

Boats have bones, did you know?
They last forever, even though
They're gone before the building ends;
Every wood strip twists and bends.

Boats have bones, take good care
Keels be straight and curves be fair.
How we start constrains our ends;
Every wood strip twists and bends

Boats have bones, no mistake
Can be hidden from the lake;
Hull and water must be friends.
Every wood strip twists and bends

Boats have bones, these are mine
From design and re-design,
Miscalculations and amends...
Every wood strip twists and bends.

Boats have bones; through this lens
Gauge the time your setup spends.
From perfection practice tends;
Every wood strip twists and bends.

(repeat 1st verse)
Track Name: Quetico
Quetico
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2011

Chiseled out by glaciers in the hands of long ago,
Where the loons slide in to landing, in the sunset's molten glow,
She has called to me all winter, from beneath the ice and snow--
Quetico-- Quetico

You may see the moose and marten as down to drink they steal,
Or the snapping turtle sulking seven feet beneath your keel,
And the Stellars Jays come jostling when the food bag you unstow--
Quetico-- Quetico

By the molten gold of sunrise are the western treetops kissed,
While the lake is like a mirror in a shawl of shade and mist,
And my heart fills up with silence in the only prayer I know:
Quetico-- Quetico

Dry and clean and empty, my canoe lies in her den.
When her hull is kissed by water, she will wake and live again,
When our exile's term is over, we will grab our gear and go--
Quetico--- Quetico
Quetico--- Quetico.
Track Name: Swan May
SwanMay
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber, 2011

Sweet Swanmay, your notice I courted at length
I asked, and was given, your sweetness and strength;
Why thrust in my arms, in the first light of dawn
Your shirt of white feathers that makes you a swan?

Forever can never be given away;
It's chosen and re-chosen, day after day,
As footstep by footstep a mountain we climb--
We walk to forever one day at a time--
We walk to forever one day at a time.

To lock up your choices and give me the key
Makes a prisoner of you, and a captor of me.
The caged bird could never my whole heart command--
Like the wild bird that chooses to come to my hand.

Wherever you go, my heart follows your charms,
So here is your feather-shirt, set in your arms.
For truly, what love would ask more than do I?
A sweetheart who's mistress of water, and sky!

(first four lines of last chorus, then)
We walk to forever, we swim to forever,
--we fly to forever one day at a time!