The musical version of a poem published by Tolkien in 'The Lord of the Rings'

‘The Old Walking Song’: a Beautiful Theme by Tolkien Ensemble so as Not to Lose Your Way

Although the title of this blog is inspired by an instrumental theme of Los Secretos, if some day I had to put a soundtrack to the blog would appeal not to that Spanish group, but to one Danish.

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Tolkien Ensemble was founded in Copenhagen in 1995 by a group of musicians with a very classical style, and who are also fans of traditional music. The raison d’etre of the group is to put music to the poems written by J.R.R. Tolkien, and for this, the Danish group has had the permission of the Tolkien family. In his works, the British writer used to make his characters sing in the most diverse moments, both happy and sad, in battles and in moments of loneliness and despair. For my taste, one of the most beautiful songs written by Tolkien is the one Frodo sang when he embarked on his journey in chapter 1 of «The Fellowship of the Ring«, a version of the walking song already sung by his uncle Bilbo in the chapter 19 from «The Hobbit»:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

This was one of the first poems that I published in this blog, specifically its version in Galician, in June 2005. Since then I have been repeating it every so often (for example, on the tenth anniversary of Contando Estrelas). On January 31, 2008, I chose the first two verses of the poem in English to post my first message on Twitter. It’s a song that I like a lot, but until now – inexplicably – I had not dedicated its own post to it.

In the following video you can listen to the first version of this song recorded by Tolkien Ensemble and included in their first album, «An Evening in Rivendell» (1997). The vocalist who played it was the baritone Mads Thiemann, who participated in the first two albums of the Danish group:

Later, Tolkien Ensemble recorded a new version with the Scottish singer Nick Reir. It appeared in a collection of four discs that the Danish group recorded next to the famous British actor and musician Christopher Lee, under the title «Complete Songs and Poems» (2006). Particularly it is my favorite version:

I recently found a version published on Youtube in 2006 by a Californian singer-songwriter, Summer Woods. She sings the poem, accompanying with a piano:

If you ever think that you have lost the direction of your life, or maybe you think that the path has taken you too far, listen to this song, remember what you have left behind and encourage yourself to follow the path, without fear of uncertainty. «And whither then? I cannot say»

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