Music Mondays: The Misty Mountains

Imagine if Moses had to fight a ferocious green-scaled dragon on Mount Sinai before he took possession of the ten commandments. Oh the plot development! One could surmise that the plague-filled exodus of Moses and the Israelites from Egypt clearly was not attention grabbing enough. Or suppose Thomas More successfully battled off two hundred imperial soldiers with only a small mace before he finally perished at the backstabbing hands of Henry VIII. Further, consider the greatness of creating two elvish characters and having them, for no real purpose, fall in love in The Hobbit. I guess this last scenario was criminally accomplished by Peter Jackson already, of whom I would figure had too many full pints of Brie ale before directing The Hobbit. Not that I bothered to finish watching his work. I can only take so many punches in the metaphorical gut before I give up on a movie.

Why do we try to "improve" what is great by removing the actual greatness and replacing it with prideful dribble? That Peter Jackson could have a craftier way than J.R.R. Tolkein of turning three trolls into stone is, well, let's just say mind-boggling is not a strong enough term. Yet this is done frequently. Did the world really need a newer version of The Miracle on 34th Street? Apparently Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell wasn't ridiculous enough on its own so it needed Uncle Kracker (insert: who?) to further destruct the sacred hippy-hymn. Why pave a paradise only to put up a parking lot? So too consider Disney remakes of Cinderella, Jungle Book, and now Aladdin. Perhaps Home Alone is due for a face lift; why not have the mom be left at home? I'm sure she'd appreciate it. And To Kill a Mockingbird could use some social justice revising, perhaps if Atticus Finch was a woman and the real struggle was for equality of women in the midst of a male dominated attorney industry. Finally, don't get me started about creativity in the liturgy.

With this in mind, I bring you today's Music Monday: The Misty Mountains. I am a huge fan of the novel... you know... "Bravest Thing" and all... it comes from The Hobbit...ahem, anyway... Most people I ask about The Hobbit movie say that the early scenes with the dwarves singing are the best parts. The movie peaked too soon and it's all downhill from there. So why is this scene so popular? It is neither hip nor cool. Nor does it rely on famous actors and mythical romance, though perhaps Uncle Kracker would be a fine name for a dwarf. In fact, the scene is reminiscent of some form of Celtic chant. Chant. That "music" which we are supposed to shun. The point is ironic to some, but as obvious as the sun in the sky to me: The scene is true to the great book of Tolkein, and that is why people love it.

The dwarves sing about their upcoming journey. The yearning of the words is matched only by the sombre intensity of the tune. Tolkein writes:

Far over the Misty Mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day
To seek our pale enchanted gold.

Leaving greatness to speak for itself is why I have posted this selection for Music Monday.

Unfortunately, we are like the dragon sitting on the pile of unused treasure. We ignore the treasure and gush over cracker jack plastic rings, or other innovations which are loosely based on the original treasure. Instead, we must actually open these treasures of art, liturgy, and literature. Indeed, to further quote the dwarves:

We must away, ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold.

Let us claim our treasure indeed.

The movie version:

A longer version:


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