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LED ZEPPELIN AND JRR TOLKIEN: RAMBLING IN MIDDLE EARTH

LED ZEPPELIN

The members were Jimmy Page (1944), Robert Plant (1948), John Paul Jones (original name John Baldwin; 1946), and John Bonham (1948-1980).

Initially called the New Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin was formed in 1968 by Jimmy Page, the final lead guitarist for the legendary British blues band the Yardbirds. Bassist and keyboard player Jones, like Page, was a veteran studio musician; vocalist Plant and

drummer Bonham came from little-known provincial bands. The group was influenced by various kinds of music, including early rock and roll, psychedelic rock, blues, folk, Celtic, Indian, and Arabic music. Some of their best-known songs are: Stairway to heaven, Whole lotta love, Immigrant song and Black dog. They disbanded in 1980, after John Bonham’s death.



RAMBLE ON - Led Zeppelin 1969


Leaves are falling all around

It's time I was _____ _______ _______

Thanks to you I'm much obliged

For such a pleasant __________

But now it's time for me to go

The autumn _______ lights my way

For now I smell the rain

And with it pain

And it's headed my way


Ah, sometimes I grow so tired

But I know I've got one thing I got to do


Ramble on

And now's the time, the time is now

To sing my song

I'm goin' 'round the world, I got to find my girl

On my way

I've been this way ten years to the day

Ramble on

Gotta find the queen of all my dreams


Got no time for spreadin' roots

The time has come to be gone

And though our health we drank a __________ ____________

It's time to ramble on


Chorus


Mine's a ______that can't be told

My ________ I hold dear

How years ago in days of old

When magic filled the ________

'T was in the darkest depths of Mordor

I met a_________so fair

But Gollum, and the evil one

Crept up and slipped away with her

Her, her, yeah

Ain't nothing I can do, no

I guess I keep on rambling


[…]


"Ramble On" from Led Zeppelin II is a prime example of Zeppelin’s journey into Tolkien’s alternate reality as the group step into “the darkest depths of Mordor”. In the track, the narrator finds love in Middle Earth and also namedrops “Gollum and the evil one”.

On Houses of the Holy, Zeppelin paid tribute to Tolkien once more on ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’. The song takes its title from a poem penned by the writer in 1915.


JRR TOLKIEN

JRR Tolkien was born on 3rd January 1892, in South Africa. When he was four years old, the family moved to England. He was very good at languages. He studied not only Latin and Greek, but also Gothic and Finnish. He studied Anglo-Saxon (Old English), Germanic languages and classic literature. Tolkien taught English language and literature at the University of Leeds. Later he became a professor at Oxford University. There he started a writing group called The Inklings. One of the members of this group was C.S. Lewis (‘The Chronicles of Narnia’), who became one of Tolkien’s closest friends. They shared great enthusiasm for the myths, sagas, and languages of northern Europe. Over the course of his life he invented several languages, such as „Elvish“, „Dwarvish“, „Entish“ and „Black Speech“, purely for fun.


In summer 1930 he saw a blank piece of paper on his desk. Suddenly inspiration came and he wrote the first sentence of The Hobbit: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit“. In 1937, Professor Tolkien published The Hobbit, with his own drawings. He wrote it as bedtime stories for his own children. The book became immediately successful and the publisher asked Tolkien if he had more material. It took him seventeen years to publish The Lord of the Rings, in 1954. The Lord of the Rings was written for older children, the same audience who had grown up since The Hobbit was published. As it was quite a big story it had to be published in three parts. It became a global bestseller at once.

J. R. R. Tolkien died from a stomach ulcer on 2nd September 1973, at the age of 81.


A film version of The Lord of the Rings by New Zealand director Peter Jackson, released in three parts (2001–03) achieved worldwide critical and financial success. The films won 17 Academy Award nominations, and The Return of the King (the 3rd part) holds the record for most Oscars ever. Jackson then also adapted The Hobbit as a trilogy (2012-14) with three Academy Award nominations which also became a hit among the Tolkien’s fans worldwide.


OVER OLD HILLS AND FAR AWAY - Tolkien 1915

It was early and still in the night of June,

And few were the stars, and far was the moon,

The drowsy trees drooping, and silently creepingS

hadows woke under them while they were sleeping.

I stole to the window with stealthy tread

Leaving my white and unpressed bed;

And something alluring, aloof and queer,

Like perfume of flowers from the shores of the mere

That in Elvenhome lies, and in starlit rains

Twinkles and flashes, came up to the panes

Of my high lattice-window.

Or was it a sound?

I listened and marveled with eyes on the ground.

For there came from afar a filtered note

Enchanting sweet, now clear, now remote,

As clear as a star in a pool by the reeds,

As faint as the glimmer of dew on the weeds.

Then I left the window and followed the call

Down the creaking stairs and across the hall

Out through a door that swung tall and grey,

And over the lawn, and away, away!

It was Tinfang Warble that was dancing there,

Fluting and tossing his old white hair,

Till it sparkled like frost in a winter moon;

And the stars were about him, and blinked to his tune

Shimmering blue like sparks in a haze,

As always they shimmer and shake when he plays.

My feet only made there the ghost of a sound

On the shining white pebbles that ringed him round,

Where his little feet flashed on a circle of sand,

And the fingers were white on his flickering hand.

In the wink of a star he had leapt in the air

With his fluttering cap and his glistening hair;

And had cast his long flute right over his back,

Where it hung by a ribbon of silver and black.

His slim little body went fine as a shade,

And he slipped through the reeds like mist in the glade;

And laughed like thin silver, and piped a thin note,

As he flapped in the shadows his shadowy coat.

O! the toes of his slippers were twisted and curled,

But he danced like a wind out into the world.

He is gone, and the valley is empty and bare

Where lonely I stand and lonely I stare.

Then suddenly out in the meadows beyond,

Then back in the reeds by the shimmering pond,

Then afar from a copse were the mosses are thick

A few little notes came a trillaping quick.

I leapt o’er the stream and I sped from the glade,

For Tinfang Warble it was that played;

I must follow the hoot of his twilight flute

Over reed, over rush, under branch, over root,

And over dim fields, and through rustling grasses

That murmur and nod as the old elf passes,

Over old hills and far away

Where the harps of the Elvenfolk softly play.


  • Can you retell this story with your own words?

  • Who do you think Tinfang Warble is?


-   Let’s now compare this “magic visit” with another mythological “visit” in British Literature. Have you ever heard about the poem “A visit from St. Nicholas” (1823)?



Back to Led Zeppelin and Tolkien now. Although the lyrics of “Over the hills and far away” aren’t particularly aligned with the works of Tolkien, and the song is a folk-rock love track, the title speaks volumes about his lingering influence.


OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY - Led Zeppelin 1973



Hey lady, you got the love I ________

________ more than enough

Oh darling, darling, darling

Walk a while with me

Ohh, you've got so much, so much, so much


Many have I loved, and many times been bitten

Many times I've gazed along the open ________

Many times I've lied, and many times I've ________

Many times I've ________ how much there is to know


Many ________ come true, and some have silver linings

I live for my dream, and a pocket full of ________


Mellow is the man who knows what he's been ________

Many, many men can't see the open road

Many is a word that only leaves you guessing

Guessing 'bout a ________ you really ought to know, oh, oh, oh, oh

Really ought to know (oh, oh, oh)

[…]


However, 1971 was the group’s most intense year of infatuation with Tolkien, as they wrote two songs with links to his fantasy land: “Misty Mountain Hop” named after Bilbo Baggins’ hang-out spot in the Misty Mountains of Wales and especially “The Battle Of Evermore” (1971), based on The Return of The King (from the Lord of the Rings).



The Queen of_________ took her bow

And then she turned to go

The Prince of _________ embraced the gloom

And walked the night alone


Oh, dance in the dark of night

Sing to the morning light


The _________ Lord rides in force tonight

And time will tell us all

Oh, throw down your plow and hoe

Rest not to lock your homes


Side by side we wait the might

Of the darkest of them all


I hear the horses' thunder

Down in the _________ below

I'm waiting for _________of Avalon

Waiting for the eastern glow


The apples of the valley hold

The seeds of happiness

The ground is rich from tender care

Repay, do not _________, no, no


Oh, dance in the dark of night

Sing to the morning light

The apples turn to brown and _________

The tyrant's face is _________


Oh the war is common cry

Pick up you swords and fly

The_________ is filled with good and bad

That mortals never know


Oh, well, the night is_________

The beads of time pass slow

Tired eyes on the _________

Waiting for the eastern glow


The pain of war cannot exceed

The woe of aftermath

The drums will shake the _________wall

The ringwraiths ride in black


Ride on

Sing as you raise your bow

Shoot straighter than before

No comfort has the fire at night

That lights the face so cold


Oh dance in the dark of night

Sing to the mornin' light


The magic runes are writ in gold

To bring the balance back

Bring it back


At last the _________ is shining

The clouds of blue roll by

With _________ from the dragon of darkness

The sunlight blinds his eyes

Oh, bring it back, bring it back


- What references to the book and the movie scene can you find in the lyrics above?






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