Recent listening: Julia Ecklar

So I just wondered if you all were familiar with Julia Ecklar? She does very professional filk, and has for a long time. My brother gave me one of her later cds for Christmas, “Horsetamer”. It’s an interesting contrast to a tape I’ve had for a long time — she’s moved way beyond “woman with guitar”, see. At this point, she has a whole instrumental section, backup singers, and, sometimes, voice actors to do voiceovers. Pretty impressive!

This cd includes two songs based on Elfquest, which I wouldn’t have known except my brother told me. I never read any of the Elfquest comics or graphic novels or whatever they are. Ecklar does do vengeance very, very well. She sounds really passionate about it! My favorite as far as that goes is a song from her cd “Divine Intervention”, called “Temper of Revenge.” I haven’t listened to that for a long time, but I could hardly forget some of the lyrics: “I will ride out at dawn when the sun’s in the sky so the buzzards can see where the bodies will lie.” Whoa.

Anyway, on this “Horsetamer” cd, she has a nice piece based on Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series. I really like that one. Actually it keeps running through my head now. She did a great job tweaking the lyrics from Cooper’s own poems and prophecies to make them scan properly.

And there’s a song based on Dune, “Shai Halud”, that kind of makes me want to go back and re-read bits of Dune.

Most impressive of the lot is a four-song set including her older work “Tin Soldier” that probably does a better job encapsulating Ender’s Game than the movie — lots of voiceovers in that one. The set, in case you’re interested in the MP3 files, are “Ender Interlude I”, “The Battleroom”, “Ender Interlude II”, and “Tin Soldier”. You would want the ones from “Horsetamer” in order to get the right version of Tin Soldier.

Ironically, the title track, “The Horsetamer’s Daughter,” seems rather tedious to me. It goes on and on, and nothing about the story it tells seems unexpected or even very interesting. Even though I love horses as much as the next person. But then, I’m not familiar with the book it’s based on, which probably makes a difference. I had to look online even to know that it’s based on something in Darkover, which I have to admit I never read. (I know, right? But I never did.)

Anyway, if you’re not familiar with Julia Ecklar, you might try some of her songs. I see most of them are indeed available as MP3 files now. Now that I have been reminded about her, I’m going to download some of the songs I have on tape — particularly “Crimson and Crystal” and “Temper of Revenge.” Oh, and “Silver” — I always loved that one. Oh, yes, and “Terminis Est,” that, too.

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8 thoughts on “Recent listening: Julia Ecklar”

  1. Rachel! Thanks for the great plug for Horsetamer (and my thanks to your brother).

    Your readers may be interested in knowing the web page for the album, which includes free downloads of several tracks, and free streaming of the entire CD:

    I should also share the URL for our Secret Winter Sale which gives 25% off all of our albums through the end of the year (for anyone who’d like the whole Julia collection):

  2. I’m trying to think of a Darkover book that a song titled “Horsetamer’ would fit. Must have come out after I quit reading them. Someday you should probably try at least one of them, Rachel – then, stop.

    The teen might be interested in the Dark is Rising track …. oh, definitely in the Ladyhawke song on Divine Intervention (she loves Ladyhawke). I will point her to them.

  3. I quite liked the Ladyhawke song. Maybe I will download that one, too. Great horse in that movie — I love Frisians.

  4. Michael S. Schiffer

    Julia Ecklar was the filk GOH at the first con I attended back in the 80s (I think she opend the con with “Songbird”, another OSC tie-in), and she was generally a fixture at the local cons. So I kind of imprinted on her singing. (Which was a tough act for a lot of filk to follow.)

    I actually quite like Horsetamer’s Daughter– maybe due to having encountered it at an impressionable age. But not being a Darkover reader, I listened to it for years before I made the connection to that series. I think it’s essentially musical fanfic set in Darkover rather than being tied to an extant story, though I’m open to correction. (And with Darkover, the line is pretty fuzzy in any case.)

    (IIRC, L. once mentioned Marion Zimmer Bradley complaining in some book or other about interminable Darkover filks, which I’ve always suspected was a reference to this song. :-) )

    BTW on an unrelated note: the site’s RSS feed is giving an error and not updating. (I don’t know how easy that is to get fixed, but I figured it was worth giving a heads-up.)

  5. Thanks for mentioning the RSS problem, Mike.

    Yes, I think I would have liked the “Horsetamer’s Daughter” song a lot more if it had been half as long.

  6. It has been a couple of decades since I was able to pop a Julia Ecklar disk/tape and not know it back and forth. It is wonderful to experience the joy of trying to figure out what the song is about with my wife. We bought her first tape in the mid 80’s at Pennsic, and spent the next 5 days replaying the bits over and over. Talking about it while queued up somewhere or another, then realizing that everyone around us was listening in. It was an eager wait of a year to return to Pennsic, and we picked up the lot.
    Julia’s voice is one of the treasures of our generation. As is Leslie Fish’s writing talents.

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