Now that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is ready to hit theaters in mid December and we’re all excited (or indifferent, if you’re some kind asshole) about returning to Middle-earth again only three questions remain to the intelligent moviegoer:
1. Has Robert Plant seen any of the Lord Of The Rings movies yet?
2. If so, what did he think of them?
3. Does he want to see The Hobbit?
Why is this relevant? Because everyone already knows that Robert Plant is the randy, banshee throated frontman of the greatest hard rock group ever created, Led Zeppelin. Some more savvy people might also know that he is a gigantic Tolkien dork, and that he’s incorporated characters, images and themes from both The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit into a bunch of Zeppelin songs.
But what no one knows or apparently thought to ask is whether or not Plant has seen any of Peter Jackson’s hugely successful adaptations. And it’s really beginning to bother me that I don’t know what Plant thinks of them.
But why do I so desperately want to hear the opinion of an old rock singer, who still has a thicker and fuller head of hair than your seventeen-year-old sister, just because he was a bit of a fantasy reader? Because upon closer examination Robert Plant wasn’t just a slight Hobbit nerd, he was the Hobbit nerd to rule them all.
First off, what gives his nerdom such weight and potency is the mere fact that it exists at all. He’s Robert “I willed the women of the 70’s into Jedi mind orgasms simply by singing the words oooooh and baby 45 times a piece per song” Plant.
He’s the guy who shouted, “I’m a golden god!” as he leaned out over a Sunset Strip hotel balcony and he didn’t sound like an ass. Okay, he kinda did, but less so than anybody else who would attempt such a pompous absurd act. Why? Because he was right!
But despite this, Plant still sought refuge in the faraway lands and fantastical characters of Middle-earth, which is fascinating to me. Because I understand lowly dorks like myself with regular nine to five jobs and ordinary, average social lives looking to follow Bilbo, Frodo and the lot for a little escapism and excitement. But Robert Plant’s actual life was a goddamn fantasy, so what the hell was he doing reading about some imaginary place?
Put yourself in Plant’s position, (that sounds dirtier than I intended) and ask yourself why are you are so obsessed with The Hobbit? You are a touring musician in the most popular rock group of the 1970’s, you can have any woman on the planet perform the most lascivious of acts upon or near you, not only do you get all your drugs for free, you are encouraged, nay expected, to engage in and invent new forms of hotel room destruction and general depravity in every way. In short, you are the fucking man, so how do you possibly escape from the tedium of complete rock and roll decadence, freedom and excess?
Answer: You read about diminutive, hairy footed, over eaters (second breakfast, what the shit?) and imagine yourself Kerouacing along with them. Accompanying you and these diabetic hobbits is a caravan of racist dwarves, snobby androgynous elves and a fabulous, don’t ask, don’t tell gay wizard.
Instead of reminiscing about that mountain of cocaine you and John Bonham did off the tits off a harem of ninja sex nuns last night after the show, what are you doing?
You’re off in the ether, smoking shire weed with Bilbo and Gandalf, getting wonked whilst discussing the business of dropping male jewelry into volcanoes. Why? Because you’re Robert Plant and you are not satisfied with simply sodomizing groupies with frozen dead shark parts, (I don’t care if that story is bullshit, I’m sure even weirder stuff happened that was never reported) you’re Robert Plant and you have reached the limits of human experience and the only thing which blows your mind anymore is a children’s book about a guy who lives in the ground who fights a dragon.
But not only is Plant’s love for Tolkien’s work surprising, it’s deep, varied and long lasting. Even though Led Zep and Plant especially sounded like sex and managed to make every song they recorded seem like it was about sex the actual lyrics to many tunes tell a different tale. Although, honestly, even the ones about hobbits sound like they’re about having hobbits and having sex. Which gives me mixed feeling.
(Now that I think about it, I for one am happy for them. The sexual tension running through the whole trilogy was just unbearable. I think we all needed this.)
The Zep tune “Ramble On” is the most obvious evidence. Plant name-drops Gollum as well as Mordor in the lyrics. “The Battle Of Evermore” likewise has Plant screeching about Ringwraiths. The colossal groove of “Misty Mountain Hop” while lyrically having nothing to do with Tolkien stuff does take its title from Lord Of The Rings.
But none of this is really as convincing of the depths of Plant’s appreciation for the world of The Hobbit as the fantasy sequence depicted in Led Zeppelin’s concert film The Song Remains The Same.
To break up the monotony of a two hour plus concert film each of the Zep band members had their own personal narrative fantasy sequence shot and interspliced into the concert movie. This was done in order to share an insight into the four different personalities of the members of Zep. Right… The result is as preposterous and awesomely fuck bonkers as you’d expect.
For Plant’s sequence what do you think he chose? He’s on horseback, barely able to ride at times, a white knight complete with sword and medieval regalia on a quest to save a maiden. It’s actually kind of charming and sweet to see Plant “living” his Tolkien fantasy.
There are shots of him resting in the woods, next to some unsubtle, gigantic mushrooms in the foreground (because it was the 70’s and in case you didn’t get it, DRUGS! DRUGS! DRUGS!), and Plant looks really content and happy on his little quest. It’s getting more and more adorable the more I think about it, check it:
Finally, the last reason I want to know if Plant has seen any of the movies is because this guy named his dog Strider! Yeah, the sword guy from Lord Of The Rings. This is Plant singing the Zep song “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”, which is about his dog, and in case the dog was in the crowd listening Plant gives him a nice big shout out at song’s end.
See, that’s the kind of guy I want to talk about The Hobbit movie with. A guy who was down with hobbits before it was hip, (okay, hips kinda pushin’ it) a guy who before the movies were around helped make the stories more real in his own way.
If you’re a kid or a teenager, or a grown man who hasn’t progressed much from either state, listening to a Zep song about The Hobbit, sometimes you feel like you’re there. You’re right there with the characters on some crazy ass quest against the forces of evil.
You’re there because Robert Plant makes it feel like the books do at their best, he makes it feel like an adventure. Like a real quest, where you cover geography not only external but internal as well.
Plus, he makes it sound way hornier than Tolkien ever did. “Oooooooooooh, baby, baby, bay, baby, baby!”