Gordon R. Dickson – 2001

Gordon R. Dickson at Minicon 8, 1974

was in constant attendance at SF conventions, and active in the promotion of filk, from the 1950’s to the late 1970’s. In the early part of this period, filk in the Midwest mostly was Gordy Dickson and Juanita Coulson.

He was one of the first to write original tunes for filk songs. He put singable lyrics into his published stories and often had tunes ready to go with them (“Soldier, Ask Not”; “Apple Comfort”, “Ballad of Jacques Chrétien”). Many great filk songs that he wrote or co-wrote, such as “Three Kings,”or “Shoshonu,” faded into undeserved obscurity as he became less active at cons. With Poul Anderson, he popularized lyrics from John Myers Myers (“Tammuz”). He was a great fan of ballads, and brought a number of old songs into play. His interest in historical context enabled him to shed light on the stories in these songs. But Gordy was not some stuffy academic; what he was mostly about was fun.

Gordy did not have a strong singing voice, and he played workmanlike guitar. But his sheer enthusiasm, and the radiant joy he took in whatever he was singing (in fact, in whatever he was doing) went a long way to demonstrate that filking was, indeed, the most fun you could have with the door open, your clothes on, and nothing more than a guitar in your lap.

His status as a professional SF author would have made it easy for him to hog the limelight at filks. But he was just as interested in hearing other people sing as he was in singing himself. He proselytized for filk, dragging people to the singing. Once novice performers took guitar in hand, Gordy was there to provide enthusiastic encouragement and good advice on how to develop budding musical talent. He was a congenial presence at countless sings over the decades. He always wanted to introduce filkers to each other, because he was sure they would enjoy one another’s music as much as he enjoyed each of them. Above all, he wanted to be sure everyone heard all the songs there were to hear. He wasn’t called “the Gordfather” for nothing.

As some authors encourage fans to share their universe for stories, Gordy encouraged fannish bards to compose ballads about the Dorsai universe. This inspired such songs as “Fal Morgan,” from two brief lines in one book. Filkers would save up their new Dorsai songs until they could premiere them with him listening. He gave his sanction to the Dorsai Irregulars, who introduced a number of filk songs to the science fiction community and held open filksings at conventions.

For these contributions to filk music and the filk community, Gordon R. Dickson is inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame this 31st day of March, 2001.

RIP 2001

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons