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WorlDream was when I realised I was not just participating in a convention - I was part of a community.

Maja Ilisch


... The WorlDream isn't about a song. It's about community. It's about coming together and sharing our creative drive and energy to make something bigger than any one of us can alone.

The song is just a vehicle. Like a flag, it is not itself that which it represents.

Rob Wynne


Thank you for the "WorlDream Project". For all it says and all it means, but especially for making Donna feel like "a real person" again. Thank you all for helping to make his dream come true. I downloaded the mp3 file and having stopped playing it since. The audio file still gets played *at least* twice a day, soundcard permitting

I'm still trying to put into words how I felt at the recording and practise sessions.

You are very special and make powerful music. I'd like to hear more.

Hilary Croughton


Lots of people, lots of voices, high emotions...

It was not possible to stand the rehearsal without being moved.

But the recording: goosebumps - shiver - gulp - takeyourbreathaway - almostaheardattack - feelsogood - feelyetbetter - crylikeababy. And it was not easy to stay silent for some seconds after the last note, to get a good ending of the recording - but then yeeehaaaah!

Filkers freaking out in joy!

I'm looking foreward to do it again at FilkContinental in Germany! (And looking foreward to hear the final version on CD!!)

WorlDream project-Fan
Franklin Gunkelmann


Even before I had gotten to ConThirteena the crazy idea behind this WorlDream project moved me immensely. I was looking forward to the actual thing very much.

I had already heard the song before, as I had downloaded the mp3 file. However, this song definitely needs to be sung by a roomful of people, only then it get's the drive it needs. I was surprised at how much of a difference it made! Due to the song being a bit too high for me, I was doing a harmony version throughout the whole song, which sounded ok.

The rehearsal session was ... ahm ... interesting. Apart from being thrilled by the sheer emotion overload of the situation, lots of people doing wonderful harmonies on the spot and Steve standing on a chair in front of us playing the guitar and looking overwhelmed (wonder why? I wouldn't manage to sing a single note if a roomful of people would sing my own song back at me!!!), I was most fascinated by the timekeeping issue. Lissa did a sterling job on drums to keep the beat, but what will happen at a con where you don't have a drumkit or a percussionist person loud and insistent enough to "stop the masses" from getting carried away? This is a thing likely to happen with this song, as it just sort of "carries" you. I am not entirely convinced that the mixdown of the different convention parts into one song will go smoothly, but of course I dearly hope that it works out (Well - I'm not an engineer, maybe there are ways to balance the speed, unnoticed). However, I feel that it should be made very clear before every recording session that people should not necessarily listen to Steve's guitar playing but to the drummer / percussionist. I am not convinced that it works better if Steve uses the timing track himself - I think it's too hard not to get influenced by the enthusiastic atmosphere with, say, 60+ people in a room singing this song from the bottom of their hearts ... - but that's just my feeling, maybe I'm wrong.

The recording was yet again different. The atmosphere was much more tense, but in a positive way. You can always "feel" the excitement of the singers when doing a recording (which, in my opinion, is a good thing, it gives the voices a little extra "kick"), and this came together with the spirit of the song, "being one voice", "belonging together" - it was just fabulous. Chris Conway did some really good improvisation on tin whistle - wow (or "groovy", as Uncle Chris would say)!!! In the end, it was very hard not to break into immediate cheering and applause but to wait a few seconds so that the tape could be switched off.

Overall I can say that DOING these recording sessions creates so much togetherness that the project has definitely fulfilled its purpose, no matter how the final product will sound.

Katy Dröge


A Phouka Walks Into A Bar:
Steve Macdonald Wrote A Song...

* * *

...G Am D.

A few of you may have noticed last week that I mentioned Steve Macdonald's 'World Dream' project*, said that I would talk more about it later, and then proceeded not to mention it again for the duration of the column. Maybe you thought I had forgotten, or just hadn't proofread correctly. Well, if you thought that, you were wrong. It just wasn't later yet.

It's later now.

(*Sorry, _still_ refusing to spell it 'WorlDream'. It brings back bad ElfQuest memories of the whole 'WaveDancers' fiasco, and I really have better things to do with my time. Like bleed from the eyeballs.)

For those of you that aren't hugely involved with the filk community (and yes, Lars, I realize that's most of my readers, I promise to return to the world of 'things that aren't filk' next week), the 'World Dream' project is the brainchild of Steve Macdonald, a filker from the Midwest who frankly has too much energy for the amount of time included in a standard day. As a consequence, while the rest of us must be content with the simple twenty-four hour day, Steve is actually running on extra-special _thirty-two hour days_, hand-manufactured by the evil gnomes from WalMart.

Well, no, actually, that's not really true. But it sounds good, doesn't it?

World Dream is basically the filker's equivalent of 'We Are The World'. The same song is being recorded at every single filk convention which takes place during the year 2001 (and that's a _lot_ of conventions). Once all the tapes have been made, they're going to be combined by some poor, long-suffering soundman who will probably wind up cursing the day he discovered filk music. At the end, we'll have a single CD -- a CD which includes the song 'Many Hearts, One Voice', as sung by pretty much every filker to attend any one of those conventions.

One song. Several hundred singers. Sounds ambitious, doesn't it? At the very least, it sounds insane.

To ensure that this Herculean* project would actually be completed, Steve has committed himself to attending every single filk con to occur during 2001. Oh, the sacrifice. Poor, poor Steve. I attend half those conventions in a given year without having the excuse of a giant recording project. I just admit that I'm crazy and move on.

(*Today's fifty-dollar word!)

But anyway, inspired by that extra time in his thirty-two hour day, Steve wrote a song, spoke to the various convention committees, and generally got to the point where his World Dream could become a reality. And that, children, is where today's story begins.

Following the Friday night concerts at Consonance (see the column for 3/5/01, 'Conventional Thinking), I was handed a large stack of lyric sheets and asked to pass them out. Oooooooo-kay. Snagging one for myself, I began waylaying innocent bystanders and thrusting music into their hands, assuming that I would eventually be told what was going on. I'm a trusting sort, aren't I?

The lyric sheets were pretty nice, too, topped with a lovely graphic that I would later find out had been designed by our very own Beckett Gladney. The filking community has long since adopted the dandelion as our emblem and flower of choice. Well, Beckett had managed to fill an entire nighttime sky with dandelions, as well as turning the full moon into a very, very large dandelion. Pity the person whose lawn gets scattered with _those_ dandelion seeds. No amount of roto-rooting is going to save them.

In any case, it was pretty. Too pretty. It lulled me into a false sense of security. As a result, I stayed in the room.

Steve Macdonald took the stage after half the people in the room had lyric sheets of their very own, and informed us that it was time to rehearse for World Dream. Okay. I could handle that. Under normal circumstances, I could even have been excited by it.

Unfortunately, I was still recovering from pneumonia. As a result my normal voice -- a fairly steady soprano -- had been replaced by this intriguing alto squeak which became raspy and unpleasant on anything above middle C. Lucky me. I seem to have this amazing talent for getting sick right before conventions that I want to sing at. So far, the only convention that hasn't been affected is OVFF (the Ohio Valley Filk Festival): I'm fairly sure that my immune system just hasn't noticed it yet. The concept of rehearsing didn't really appeal to me, mostly because I wasn't sure my throat would hold out.

I tried to sneak quietly out of the room. I really did. Have you ever tried to sneak quietly when clutching a large stack of lyric sheets and being hailed from all sides? I'll give you a hint -- don't bother. You're not going to succeed. You will, however, wind up attending the rehearsal, smiling wanly and trying to coax your poor, wounded throat into uttering something above an angry squeak.

In accordance with Murphy's Law (Murphy loves me!), the World Dream theme turned out to be written in a nice, high key -- the sort of thing that I would normally really enjoy singing. The sort of thing, in fact, that I had to concentrate to sing anything other than soprano on. Can you guess what came next? Yes, exactly. I would start in a nice, alto key, start concentrating on actually singing the lyrics correctly, rather than just singing them _low_, and would automatically jump into a soprano register. End result: every time I opened my mouth, I sounded like a chipmunk on downers.

We rehearsed for about twenty minutes, then moved next door to the ballroom for the actual recording. Those who played guitar -- or, in some cases, mandolin -- moved to the front of the room, ready to accompany our home-made chaos. Callie Hills of Echo's Children (a wonderful musical duo) was also there, flute in hand, ready to play.

Now. The World Dream song was purposefully written to be simple, easy to learn, sing and play. And I am bearing this in mind as I say that Callie is a Flute Goddess. With twenty minutes of rehearsal -- which wasn't enough for some of the singers to figure out the tune, much less some of the instrumentalists -- she had managed to come up with a flute descant that sounded like it had been polished for months. Yes, the song was simple. Y'know what? I don't care. I hereby nominate Callie for deity-hood -- and if anyone wants to argue, I'll just point them to the recordings from the World Dream.

Filkers spread out through the ballroom, automatically seeking points as far from the microphones as possible. Steve gently nudged us all closer to the recording equipment, despite the fact that most of us were looking at the sound system the way my grandmother looks at poisonous snakes. It was sort of a case of 'immovable object meets unstoppable force': Steve was trying to move a whole lot of people who didn't really want to be moved. Personally, I would have put my money on the crowd.

It's a good thing I'm not a betting sort of person. Steve somehow managed to not only move everyone in that room, he moved us _twice_, and even managed to make us all hold totally silent-and-still for a full minute while the sound levels on the room were checked and verified. Either the man is eventually going to overthrow the world's government, which I doubt, or the World Dream song is actually a complex mind-control device, aimed at the filking community. I'm leaning towards the latter. You have been warned.

Once we had all been settled into place with the flair and elan of Martha Stewart laying out a formal dinner ('...and just to give the room that cultured air, a centerpiece of live filkers!...'), it was time for us to begin singing.

All around the room, harmony broke out like some sort of plague. It was exceedingly neat to watch -- although I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been concentrating so hard to make sure that I was actually staying in the same key for more than thirty seconds at a time. I'm normally pretty good about that sort of thing: starting voice lessons at the age of four will do that to a person. Of course, normally, my voice isn't trying to buck me off like some sort of rodeo stallion.

I suppose it was inevitable that my voice would win. About two-thirds of the way through the second rendition of the song (this time with _feeling_!), everything gave out completely. I made an interesting squeaking noise, and stopped singing. That seemed like my best option, since the alternative was to continue making that exciting new noise and probably get lynched when this forced us to sing the song a third time.

After that, it was off to the con suite for hot tea and grousing. While I was there, I managed to find a mandolin and completely mangle the Tam Lin Talking Blues, but that's neither here nor there.

Oddly enough, despite the remarkable damage that I managed to do to my throat (I'll be abasing myself before my voice teacher for the foreseeable future), I'm really glad that I did it. If only because in ten years, no one's going to believe any of this actually happened. There's value in becoming part of an urban legend. At the very least, it can usually get you lunch.

Now if you'll pardon me, I need to go get some throat lozenges. And maybe some hot tea with honey. And a new throat...

What does this button do?

Seanan McGuire. 3/12/01. _____________________________________________________
'A Phouka Walks Into A Bar' is a non-commercial humor column, written and distributed for entertainment purposes only. If you feel that you have been added to this list in error, please email Seanan McGuire at The contents of this column are (c) Seanan McGuire, 2001, and may not be forwarded or distributed in any form without this notice. Where's my iguana?


For me, it's as much the singing as the song. Yes, the words help, but it's the whole shared experience

Mike Whitaker


Blown away once again by the harmonies and focus of the crowd, as well as the enthusiasm and sincerity of SteveMac. Not many more to go now, Steve!



I love this song! Ithink the lyrics and tune are lovely and was telling someone at HarmUni that I feel myself privileged to have joined this comunity at a time when something so monumental is happening. We've (me, Emily, and Dad sort of) been here only since February but I already feel closer to many members of the filk comunity then some of my family (that might be since they live in Ireland). Before I start freaking people by calling them my aunts and uncles, I want to say...oh i think I've already said it!

Anna Raftery


When it was first announced, with just the words, it (the WorlDream) didn't do anything for me. When I heard smac's rendition on his own it was better, but nothing special. Singing it in the massed group, however, is the thing which is special. Much the same I find is true for Sam's Song or Brenda's Strangers No More. It's the singing of it which makes it special.
Chris Croughton


The wonderful part of the Worldream is, for me, the feeling of commmunity and connection to others we may never meet. For us filking a song is a collaborative thing which reinforces that community feeling.

Joe Raftery


This is one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. I'm truly honored, proud and humbled by my participation in it. The last time I remember feeling this good about being part of something was when I joined hands in Dayton, Ohio as part of Hands Across America. The song captures everything I feel about being part of fandom, not just part of filking. Just thinking about it is raising goosebumps and bringing tears. Thank you for letting me share in this dream!

Beth Bowles


Heavens, I really lost my grip on reality during FilkContinental. I just wanted to thank you again for this great idea of the WorlDream projekt. I felt that we really are what we have sung so deeply from the heart - one heart, one voice. Thank you.



A few random recollections....

Lots of sets, and Franklin doing his inimitable Master of Ceremonies act to string them all together.

Taunya and Paul performing "Diamonds and Rust" and "My Jalapeno Man", and the Danger-ettes giving Danger Man Paul backing (Whooo!) as a set finale.

Valerie singing her song "Flying Free" based on "Requiem" by Robert Heinlein, to the tune of "Sam's Song". The only song that made me cry this year...

The WorlDream rehearsal and recording sessions. Wow! Gets my hair standing on end just thinking about it.

The harmony workshop. "Promise" felt to me like an over-ambitious choice when the nMC were working on it, but it seemed to come together well in the end. I guess the recordings will be the final arbiter, but it was fun to try :)

Rick Hewitt


World Dream... Yes, that was something else I wanted to thank you for. When I first learned about it, I thought "Nice idea, the guy's nuts." When I heard the song for the first time, sung by Katy on the camp fire at FilkyDays I thought, "Nice idea, but he should have written something else, something less... sentimental". So when the song was rehearsed, I missed out all of the rehearsals, being snobbish and saying things like "Well I've never had trouble learning a song and after all, it's all so sentimental, and we've got our own spot to rehearse...". But then I attended the recording (never leave out a chance to get mentioned on a CD-cover!), and for the first time I heard the song as it was meant to be sung, by thousands of voices, and yes, and was sentimental, and yes, it was beautiful, and again, I almost started crying.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for sharing your dream with us. Hope to see you again in 2003... Or meanwhile, somewhere else...

Yours, Thesilee
(the left-handed half of Lord Landless)


I think it was a really great idea. It has given me very much. I never thought that there are so many filkers out there! Never thought about anything outside my country or Europe. You have made me curious about it. The dream is about community, and it is not only a dream, it is true! I am very sad I missed the recording. That would have been the opportunity to sing together with people I have not yet met. Shareing something. Even if the others are so far away. But I am happy that I tasted the spirit of WorlDream at the practice session. A thousand thanks for that!

You know you will have to do it again? (grin)

Hugs, Shaya





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