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Bill Roper's Journal
For Your Consideration 
23rd-Jul-2012 09:00 am
The annual Pegasus Award nominating ballot will be closing soon. If you're a member of the filk community, let me suggest that you go nominate and -- having nominated -- remember to vote.

Let me also suggest one thing that you should consider nominating and voting for: Juanita Coulson's classic song, "Chess" in the Best Classic Song category, which seems to me like a fine place to be nominating a classic song. Darn near tautological.

"Chess" suffers from several problems that have made it difficult for it to win a Pegasus Award, although -- as you'll see at the link! -- it has been nominated more than once. First, it is egregiously out of print. It's certainly possible to win a Pegasus Award when no one can actually get a copy of the song, but it never actually helps.

Second, because it is annoyingly difficult to sing and play, it doesn't get covered a lot, so people don't hear it in filk circles. It is to the point where Juanita pretty much can't play it any more unless she's having a good day and that's a shame, because it is a lovely song. It is one of very few songs that I know that are anchored by an E7sus4 chord and a C9-5 chord. (The other, just for the record, is "Lunatic Moon", which I wrote while learning "Chess" partly because I wanted to see what else I could do with those perfectly good chords. :) )

But, damn, it is a classic song, because it was one of the very first filk songs out there that went places melodically that other filk songs feared to tread. (The only other one that I can think of off the top of my head is Juanita's lovely setting of Heinlein's lyrics for "Grand Canal".) It was operatic in construction and tone.

No, more than that: it was space opera, space opera on the grand scale.

And Juanita did all this in the 1970s, when most of us were busily wailing away and bouncing between Am and G and their little friends. "Chess" was the ground breaker, getting out there in front and showing us where we could go.

One-by-one, we followed. And filk is richer for it.

For those reasons, "Chess" deserves to win a Pegasus Award.

But there's more that I need to mention. I'm a baseball fan. I'm a Cardinals fan, despite having lived in Chicago for thirty years now.

That didn't stop me from recognizing that former Chicago Cub, Ron Santo, belonged in the Baseball Hall of Fame. But he never got in, waiting year after year, until he finally died.

Yesterday, Ron Santo was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Posthumously.

Juanita Coulson has never, ever won a Pegasus Award, which I find almost incomprehensible. And there is an unknown, but finite, amount of time that Juanita will be around -- as she periodically reminds me when we discuss her long-delayed album that I'm working on. :) (In good humor, I will add, just so we're clear on that.)

"Chess" is a song that deserves to win a Pegasus Award. Juanita deserves to win a Pegasus Award.

Maybe we could try to do something about this in the near future?

Thanks for reading!
23rd-Jul-2012 02:38 pm (UTC) - Juanita & the Pegasus
No argument about Juanita finally getting a Pegasus.

She has had 15 nominations over the years with no wins. (5 of those nominations have been for Chess.) The two known tape recordings of "Chess" are -

Best of Filkcon 1
Juanita Coulson Live at Filkcon West

I would love to see her finally win a Pegasus. She is a Hugo winner (fanzine in the 1960s) and a filk Hall of Fame member.
(Deleted comment)
23rd-Jul-2012 03:26 pm (UTC)
I understand. As it happens, there is still a sound clip available on the Pegasus website page that I linked to. Don't know if it will stay there once someone notices... :)
25th-Jul-2012 02:26 am (UTC)
I just uploaded the recording to the filk archive.

23rd-Jul-2012 03:01 pm (UTC)
I got a recording of "Chess" within the past couple of years. It may have been on a tape of live recordings by Juanita that I got in an Interfilk auction. It's an impressive song.
23rd-Jul-2012 03:13 pm (UTC)
I am going to see if I can find a recording of Chess that I can share on the filk archive in the next day or so, so more people can hear the song.
23rd-Jul-2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
Has Juanita given blanket permission for the filk archive, or do we need to ask her?

As it happens, I have the recording where Erica and I covered it on short notice for the Pegasus Nominees concert a few years ago, but we would have to ask Mark Peters if it was ok to post it. (I don't think Erica would have a problem with it.)
23rd-Jul-2012 09:25 pm (UTC)
Mark is cleared. I received his ok earlier today after asking for this usage.

You, erica and juanita were the emails for tonight depending on the version found first. (I have to pull the archival drive from storage for the right year and locate the correct song.)
24th-Jul-2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
Permission from Juanita just came in and I will have it on the filk archive later tonight.
23rd-Jul-2012 03:34 pm (UTC)
Definitely works for me. If nothing else, could we work up a good recording in the next few weeks? I'd be happy to create backing tracks so she doesn't have to cramp her hand any worse.
23rd-Jul-2012 04:04 pm (UTC)
Hear, hear! "Chess" is one of my personal all-times filk top 10 and never fails to give me chills whenever I hear it. I've voted for it every time it's been nominated. But oy, what a bear to sing & play. It's one of the few filks that may actually be easier to play on a keyboard.

BTW, Bill, thanks for IDing those 2 "mystery" chords.
24th-Jul-2012 09:01 pm (UTC)
Well, Juanita showed me what they looked like. Being moderately anal, I then had to look them up on one of the reverse chord finders on the Internet to know what they were called. :)
23rd-Jul-2012 04:32 pm (UTC)
For that matter, why not nominate "Grand Canal"? That's equally powerful, in my humble opinion.
23rd-Jul-2012 04:37 pm (UTC)
I think that "Grand Canal" is a fine song, but I'd rather nominate something that is all Juanita's (or alternatively, something she wrote with Buck).
23rd-Jul-2012 04:55 pm (UTC)
Point well taken. Will do.
24th-Jul-2012 12:30 am (UTC)
Bill, would you consider having this message posted in the Filker community on Facebook?
24th-Jul-2012 12:39 am (UTC)
Just did. Thanks for the suggestion!
24th-Jul-2012 11:31 pm (UTC)
Is there some way to get it BACK in print?
25th-Jul-2012 02:25 am (UTC) - Chess
25th-Jul-2012 05:36 am (UTC)
It would be difficult to get it back in print with Juanita singing it, because I don't think there's a clean recording out there to work from that doesn't belong to someone. This is not to say impossible...
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