Tolkien In Music

Tolkien In Music

Naomi Shimunov, Reporter

Ever since I can recall, I’ve liked The Lord of the Rings. Actually that statement is a complete understatement; I’ve always loved anything related to Tolkien, even if it deviates remotely from the source material, this includes: Peter Jackson’s motion pictures, the lesser known animated Lord of The Rings film by Ralph Bakshi, paintings, and even (yes you’ve probably guessed it by now) music. With that said, for this issue’s article I will be listing songs inspired by the literary works of JRR Tolkien.

The Gnome by Pink Floyd
While this song isn’t officially validated as being a Lord of the Rings song, it’s hard to deny the correlation between the gnome, Grimble Gromble who, “He wore a scarlet tunic, a blue green hood,”  and the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. This is a psychedelic piece of music from an early Pink Floyd album titled Piper at the Gates of Dawn.  It was produced while Syd Barret was still at the creative helm of the band. Eventually Barret went insane, a common theory is that his constant use of acid worsened his already trouble mental state. While this song isn’t my favorite from Pink Floyd’s psychedelic Barret era, it is for lack of a better term, adorable, and it certainly will cause some laughs due to its inherent silliness.

The Wizard by Uriah Heep
Uriah Heep is a band on the more obscure spectrum of classic rock, but they have had an influence on music and continue to have a cult following. Whereas I don’t particularly enjoy listening to certain sections of the song, I feel as though the listener isn’t intended to, that Uriah Heep wanted parts of its song to shock your ears. “The Wizard” is full of wonderful imagery. Listening to the song I really do imagine a wizard who “had a cloak of gold and eyes of fire,” sitting in a mountain home with a guest drinking wine. What gives “The Wizard” a plus on this list is its positive message about the “peace that love can bring.”

Ramble On, The Battle of Evermore, and Misty Mountains by Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin has wonderful blues and hard rock songs involving imagery from The Lord of the Rings. They do have songs with lots of lyrics regarding the saga. “Ramble On” mentions Mordor, a setting in the series, and Gollum, a character. “The Battle of Evermore” is about an epic battle between light and dark that “mortals never know,” where “the Ringwraiths ride in black.” Ringwraiths are the main antagonist’s henchmen. “Misty Mountains,” well that one is self-descriptive! The Misty Mountains are an epic mountain range in Middle Earth, the fiction world where all of JRR Tolkien’s work takes place.

The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins by Leonard Nemoy

I love Star Trek, and hearing Mr. Spock sing about Bilbo fills my heart with joy. The song was written by Charles Randolph Green. “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” is nonsensical fun. The video where Leonard Nemoy performs the song was originally aired on a short lived variety TV program called “Malibu U.”  It features Nemoy and a bunch of young girls wearing pointy ears, singing, and dancing on a beach. The footage can easily be found on YouTube.

The songs listed here are a select few. JRR Tolkien’s works can be heard in just about any genre from death metal to rap to hip hop to progressive rock. Camel, a progressive band from the early 70s has an album title Mirage that is full of songs inspired by Lord of the Rings. Gorgoroth, a death metal band, is named after an area of Mordor. The Lords of Rhymes have a Beastie Boys style hip hop song about Hobbits. Even Christopher Lee, who played Saruman in Peter Jackson’s adaption even released a metal album in his 90s and continued to release music until his death.