iTom: Free Music From Tom Smith

Music in every style -- except dull. Tom Smith, the World's Fastest Filker and the prototypical geek folk-rocker, releases new music for free download on a regular basis. (It was a song a week for almost a year.) You can subscribe to the RSS feed, purchase a better-quality MP3 of the song, or purchase three months' worth as a downloadable album.

Monday, July 30, 2007


I am very sorry I've fallen behind on the songs. It has just been a very busy time for me, and I ended up working myself sick. (I'm feeling a good deal better now.) I may have something in the next two days, but if not it'll likely be next week.

It seems like a good time to tell you my plans for iTom. First, thanks so much for all of you who've been listening, giving me feedback, getting the RSS feeds, and buying the songs. I really appreciate it; it is, in fact, what makes it all worth it.

Second, I'm going to finish up this album -- I hope before Dragon*Con -- and then take a bit of a break. Not all that long. A song every few weeks, most likely, rather than every week.

(Heh. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do a song a week, and then I berated myself for falling short... but I forgot to count commission jobs, The FuMP, and a few things I did just for grins. I actually wrote and recorded almost seventy songs in the past year.)

Third, iTom will start up full-swing again at the beginning of the year. Because that's how I'm going to initially release Sounds Familiar, the studio versions of almost everything on the first two tapes.

Good timely schedule, too -- Dodeka is finally, formally getting out of the cassette business. So hang onto those tapes... they're collector's items. ;)

Anyway, it's Con Season, and I've got a few commission jobs to finish up, and more FuMP stuff to write, and, oh yeah, four more songs for this iTom album. And I just wanted to let you all know what was going on, and say Thank You Very Much for your support. It means everything to me, because this is no fun without you.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bonus Track: Hope Eyrie

Again, very sorry for the lateness. Sick, busy, Real Life, et cetera. I'll actually have a few songs very soon, and finish up this album. Meantime, in commemoration of the 38th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing this past Friday, here's my version of some modern mythology, the quintessential filk song, Leslie Fish's amazing ballad "Hope Eyrie".
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Hope Eyrie
Words and Music © 1975 by Leslie Fish
Copyright assigned to Random Factors
All rights reserved - used with permission

Worlds grow old and suns grow cold
And death we never can doubt.
Time's cold wind, wailing down the past,
Reminds us that all flesh is grass
And history's lamps blow out.

But the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

Cycles turn while the far stars burn,
And people and planets age.
Life's crown passes to younger lands,
Time brushes dust of hope from his hands
And turns another page.

But the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

But we who feel the weight of the wheel
When winter falls over our world
Can hope for tomorrow and raise our eyes
To a silver moon in the opened skies
And a single flag unfurled.

For the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

We know well what Life can tell:
If you would not perish, then grow.
And today our fragile flesh and steel
Have laid our hands on a vaster wheel
With all of the stars to know

That the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

From all who tried out of history's tide,
Salute for the team that won.
And the old Earth smiles at her children's reach,
The wave that carried us up the beach
To reach for the shining sun.

For the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

Monday, July 16, 2007

048: Dead Again

(I'm very sorry this week's song is late. Real Life at up a lot of time, I'm working on several songs that need to be done soon, and I caught Ye Crudde this past weekend. So I will have to redo the vocals on this one anyway.)

Lots of "experts" are convinced that video games inure people, especially kids, to violence. (As if, say, football isn't violent.) It doesn't seem to occur to any of them that, for the most part, people really do understand the difference between video game "violence" and actual, real-life people-getting-hurt violence. I am committed to nonviolence... and one of my favorite computer games is Quake 3 Arena. Gimme that rocket launcher and I'm good, baybeh.

There is certainly one thing that has been conclusively demonstrated by video games, however -- the pathology of the designers in coming up for interesting ways for the game to end.
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Dead Again
Words and Music © 2007 by Tom Smith
Released under a Creative Commons Noncommercial ShareAlike License

Rocket launcher, rail gun, BFG Nine Thousand One,
Never saw it coming and I never had a chance.
Bad enough being dead, Sub Zero pulled off my head,
Master Chief is doing his victory dance.

Lost Asia in Risk, Diablo burnt me to a crisp,
Even though I had the Godly Plate of the Whale.
Two pair, eights and kings, Sauron got the One Ring,
Getting dysentery on the Oregon Trail.

Harry Potter came up short dueling with Voldemort,
Elspeth Holliday met the Blair Witch.
Spider-Man showed such aplomb till he met that pumpkin bomb,
Mr. Incredible didn't throw the switch.

Cliff racers, cave bats, stupid frickin' giant rats,
Deadly pirahna poodles, or soldier ants,
You were eaten by a grue, Hah! The wumpus got you,
Nancy Drew and Scooby Doo teabagged in Halo 2

Dead again,
Splattered all over a rendered killing floor,
Dead again,
Let me respawn and I'll be back for more,
Dead again,
Let me get to the checkpoint, then you can do your worst,
Dead again,
Then I'll reload but this time I'll shoot first.

My marble plummets from a height, should have rolled it to the right,
Jumped through lots of traffic but then fell off a log.
Russian cubes from the sky, and I let 'em stack too high,
Punched right off the screen by a humanoid frog.

T-rex got me, now I'm toast, chased down by a blinking ghost,
Landed on some spikes and dropped every last ring.
Bitten by a fanged slug, Jafar zapped my flying rug,
Trampled in a bog by a Barbarian King.

Mechanized war bots, Mudokan slingshots,
Centipede dropping a flea on my head.
Couldn't fly as Alfred Chicken, Duke Nukem kept on kickin',
Fought Guy of Gisborne with only some bread.

Skeletons hit me twice, dragon breath cased me in ice,
Couldn't line up all the jewels three in a row,
Shot up by Miami cops, beaten with karate chops,
Kept on missing platform hops, and the timer never stops.

Dead again,
How come these worlds have so many bottomless pits?
Dead again,
And everyone that I meet wants me blown to bits.
Dead again,
Reincarnation one byte at a time,
Dead again,
It's so embarassing to be killed by green slime.

Real life goes on until you're
Dead, or so I'm told,
Injury, catastrophe, or
Simply growing old
Fantasy's supposed to be where
You can find your dreams,
But all I find is game designers
Hooked on players' screams.

Smothered by a boa constrictor, drawn and quartered by a lich or
Eaten by a cat while dodging Beethoven's Fifth.
My flying ostrich drowned, monkeys thowing barrels down,
Torn apart by creatures out of legend and myth.

Zombies got a hold of Jill, nurses up in Silent Hill,
All those German snipers on the beach at Omaha.
Swallowed by the sand worms, infected by some nasty germs,
Didn't slap the leather when I heard him say, "DRAW!"

Running from Koala Kong, made a turn that's really wrong,
Sephiroth's supernova fried us where we stood.
Broiled in a lava flow, squashed by Super Mario,
Didn't make my saving throw again,st lawful good.

Thirty zillion space machines blowning up in cut scenes,
I actually found a way to die in Myst.
Ninja swords decapitate, plasma guns obliterate,
Pocket nukes annihilate, reboot, transubstantiate.

Dead again,
Inching ahead until once more I choke,
Dead again,
The funeral bills would leave my whole state broke,
Dead again,
Something is trying to chew off both my legs,
Dead again,
Who in the hell dreams up these easter eggs?

Dead again,
All of the guys at work think I'm a freak,
Dead again,
They watch golf and NASCAR every week,
Dead again,
They'll never understand what I call fun,
Dead again,
'Cause any of my lives is cooler than their one.

Friday, July 06, 2007

047: Everything Is Dangerous

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And all the other stuff.

I actually had a song, "Be Afraid", written last week. But it was... preachy. Too preachy. If-you-want-to-send-a-message-use-Western-Union preachy. Wasn't what I wanted.

And then I saw this news story, and I knew I'd found my hook. I mean, apparently I must've been vacationing in the Alps when pet turtles were outlawed back in 1975, but I surely remember all of the kids who got salmonella playing with our adorable little buddies. Oh, wait, I don't remember a single one because I never knew a kid who got sick playing with a turtle. Neither did I know a kid who was made prone to violence from watching Road Runner cartoons, but that's neither here nor there.

As Lois McMaster Bujold says, you can't make your kids safe -- you can only teach them how to be safe, and hope for the best. Or, as Leslie puts it, you can't bubble-wrap the world.
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Everything Is Dangerous
Words and Music © 2007 by Tom Smith
Released under a Creative Commons Noncommercial ShareAlike License

Your kid can get salmonella from his new pet turtle,
Buckle your seat belt or through the windshield you will hurtle,
You can choke on anything not bigger than your head,
Everything is dangerous, so how come you're not dead?

You might poke your eye out with any given toy,
You might die from allergies to peanuts, wheat, or soy,
All these deadly circumstances we cannot improve,
Everything is dangerous, so please try not to move.

Terrorists are everywhere, in every school and mall,
And it might be better if you don't touch cheese at all.

All the other drivers are insane and they've got guns,
Don't pick up hitchhikers, even if they're dressed as nuns,
Your date has GHB, he hopes tomorrow you'll forget him,
Everything is dangerous, so go ahead and wet 'em.

Dihydrogen monoxide will surely spell your doom,
It might just be easier if you don't leave the room.

Make sure that your sunscreen is at least SPF 30,
Don't eat food in restaurants, the chef's hands might be dirty,
Gay men want your body and they can't control their urges,
Monks have secret messages they're chanting in their dirges.

Magnetic waves from in your cell phone just might fry your brain,
There's a flying spaghetti monster in your beef chow mein,
Paris Hilton might explode, I saw it on Fox News,
Everything is dangerous, including Starburst chews.

Keep yourself hydrated or you'll pass out from the heat,
Watch out for a wormhole openin' up beneath your feet,
Motorcyclists with tattoos just got out of the joint,
Homeless people have diseases, so don't stare and point.

From the moment that you're born until the day you die,
Everything might kill you, and a lot of things will try,
So you've got two choices, and they're easy to compare,
Everything is dangerous, or everything's just there.
Everything is dangerous, so suck it up, mon frere.