International Tolkien Reading Day may have come and gone, but we are still on a Tolkien high! So why not follow it up with some fun and interesting tidbits on one of his greatest works – The Lord of the Rings. The books first came out in the mid-1950s, and it’s safe to say that many hopped right on the LOTR bandwagon, including musicians (even rock stars!). Soon after its release, songs about our favorite LOTR characters started coming out. As the years passed, his works became popular reference material for songwriters. So here are 14 songs inspired by Lord of the Rings.
I Think I Understand by Joni Mitchell
This 1969 song features the line “fear is like a wilderland”, giving reference to Tolkien’s Wilderland. The use of such a unique term, which is a place in the northern part of Middle Earth that houses the forest of Mirkwood, couldn’t have been a coincidence. In fact, she mentions at a music festival that her favorite character was a lady wizard named Galadriel, who gave the travelers a vial of light to help them against the monsters of the Wilderland.
Mitchell loved Tolkien so much that she even named her music publishing company Gandalf Publishing.
Ramble On by Led Zeppelin
Robert Plant’s love for the franchise is evident in 3 of his band’s songs. First is Ramble On which features the stanza:
“’T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor
I met a girl so fair
But Gollum, and the evil one
Crept up and slipped away with her.”
I guess his take is that Mordor is a great place to pick up women, and Gollum and Sauron are more interested in fighting over a girl than getting the One Ring.
Misty Mountain Hop by Led Zeppelin
This one’s pretty obvious as it’s named after the place where Bilbo Baggins and his dwarf friends spend some time in The Hobbit.
The Battle of Evermore by Led Zeppelin
Here’s another Led Zeppelin song that pays tribute to LOTR with the line “The ring wraiths ride in black. Ride on!”
Rivendell by Rush
Rush’s drummer-slash-lyricist must have come across the franchise in the 70s. In 1975, the band came out with Rivendell which is named after the Elven city where Elrond was.
The Necromancer by Rush
A year after Rivendell came out, Rush released The Necromancer which was Gandalf’s name for Sauron in The Hobbit.
Lothlorien by Enya
Before Enya’s musical contributions to the film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, she and her lyricist Roma Ryan were already huge fans of Tolkien. In fact, her 1991 album contains a track inspired by Galadriel’s woodland kingdom. Her record label was the one that actually asked to be involved in the Peter Jackson film.
Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider by Camel
This three-part nine-minute song is a complete retelling of Gandalf’s transformation from Grey to White.
The Wizard by Black Sabbath
Who knew Tolkien would also be source material for heavy metal band Black Sabbath? The Wizard with “funny clothes” and a “tinkling bell” is non-other than Gandalf of course.
Songs of the Quendi by Sally Oldfield
This four-part song is inspired by early Elven history. It mentioned the Moriquendi, Laiquendi, and Calaquendi. Her songs were also influenced by the Elven language.
In the House of Tom Bombadil by Nickel Creek
Tom Bombadil is one of Tolkien’s most intriguing characters. In the book, this character lives in his own little world, often communicating through song. This makes him a suitable subject for musical interpretation.
This Day We Fight! by Megadeth
Dave Mustain wanted to write a song about the drums and flags used to signal retreat on the battlefield. The title of this song is inspired by Aragorn’s moving speech in The Return of the King which goes, “We may die tomorrow, but not today. This day we fight.”
The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins by Leonard Nimoy
Things can’t get any geekier with this song by Mr. Spock himself who launched his music career in 1966. Most of his songs focused on space-related tracks (no surprise there), but there were a few such as this one that showed a different side of him.
Frodo, Don’t Wear the Ring by Flight of the Concords
This goofy and witty song is a spoof of Frodo’s trek to Mordor (complete with memorable lines from the movie). It’s so crazy that it even pokes fun at all the other songs influenced by the franchise! The cherry on top is a rap verse that you cannot miss.
The Gnome by Pink Floyd
The song tells the story of a scarlet tunic wearing gnome named Grimble Gromble. Listening to the song’s lyrics and instrumentals, you can definitely spot the LOTR feels!