From The Blog

Riddles in the Dark 21: Songs and Poems

Tra La La Lalley and more on Riddles in the Dark

Professor Corey Olsen, Dave Kale, and Trish Lambert consider what we know at the moment about Howard Shore’s soundtrack for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. At least as much time is spent talking about how the songs and poems are presented in the Rankin/Bass animated version of The Hobbit. Corey talks at some length about the significance of songs in the book and how Tolkien uses them to tell us about characters and to move the story along. And a bonus…Dave demonstrates his high level of enlightenment in the writing of four little words: “I was completely wrong.”

Listen to the Movie 1 soundtrack or check out “Blunt the Knives

Riddle: Will the six songs from the book be included and how?

 A. Contrary to all evidence, all six songs will make their way into the movie.

B. Significant portions of songs will be included (perhaps as dialogue or poetry) with or without music.

C. Most or all of the songs will be referenced on-screen with only a passing reference or a snippet of verse.

D. The only book songs to be included will be the two listed in the published soundtrack.


Download: .mp3 (right click and choose “Save As…” to download)




  1. Michael Lucero November 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Haven’t listened to the episode yet, but haven’t you left out some options? I can think of E) One or two more songs than are listed on the soundtrack will be included, with music, all very short, but most of the book songs will be left out entirely. I’m sure there’s other possibilities as well.

  2. eoghan November 21, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    “pound them up with a thumping pole” its in there! :)

  3. Tuor son of Huor November 22, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    In Production Video #3 they were definitely rehearsing “There is an inn, A merry old inn”, which doesn’t appear in the soundtrack. Obviously that’s from FOTR so doesn’t count for this riddle, but does it perhaps give us some hope for other songs that aren’t yet listed?
    I have now resigned myself to an absence of “Tra-la-la-lally”, but am still holding out for some goblin chanting.
    And yes, what do we pick if we think there will be more songs than are listed in the soundtrack but not all six?

  4. Eleanor November 24, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    It didn’t make it into the film, but the Rankin/Bass film soundtrack does have an Attercop/Tomnoddy song:

    The words aren’t the same, but it gets the message across. I’ve been known to have this one caught in my head for days at a time, hehe.

  5. mofatter November 25, 2012 at 12:32 am #

    I was checking out the the Visual Guide to the Hobbit and under the description of the Great Goblin, AKA “The Goblin King”, that he likes to sing and his songs are heard throughout the caves. I think that may indicate that we might get some of the “Down to Goblin Town” material.

  6. Halstein November 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Movie Wish: Hugo Weaving as Elrond with a serious face, and with much pathos, go: “Tralalalaly, down in the valley….”

  7. Chris November 26, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    Regarding the concerns about the first film and fitting in the Necromancer/White Council stuff–wouldn’t it work simply to have a Gandalf flashback about how he got the map and key during the Unexpected Party? And wouldn’t there be more room for White Council stuff before Gandalf reappears to save them from the Trolls? Jackson has said that there’s a bit of a parallel between this movie and FoTR, and there we also have an extended Gandalf absence there. I don’t imagine Jackson will be content to have Gandalf disappear simply to spy out a new road–the “To look ahead” and “Looking behind” business is simply too good to waste on something ordinary like that, in a film. I think it’s safe to assume that whenever Gandalf disappears in these films, he’ll be doing White Council stuff.

    Forgive me if I’m missing something very obvious, or if you guys have already discussed and discounted this possibility–I haven’t been following all the podcasts/releases of movie info all that carefully!

  8. Chincilla of Valinor November 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Perhaps the goblin scribe is reading some poetry? I mean, I know the Vogon’s was apparently the thirst worst in the universe, but perhaps goblin poetry is even more tortuous?

    And a word of defence for the Bakshi LOTR-Boromir’s braving the snows of Caradhras wearing a miniskirt? What a guy.

  9. DarthSkeptical January 5, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    I have to push back strongly against one of the notions in this episode. In your continuing mining of Trish’s generally well-observed “spooky-but-not-causal” relationship between Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and The Hobbit, Corey, you characterised Walt Disney as a businessman and “not first and foremost an artist”. It was unclear at that point in your comments whether you were trying to channel the Inklings or to give your own impression. If the former, fair enough, since there was no way in 1937 that two Oxford dons could have known a damn thing about the operations of Walt Disney Productions. However, on the off chance that this was and is your opinion, I feel obliged to rush to Walt’s defence and say, “Are you freakin’ kiddin’ me?”

    Walt Disney was absolutely an artist. He’s the single most-decorated individual in the history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, picking up a statuette for almost every year of the 1930s. His Academy Award-winning work extended not just to the animation for which he was most famous, but also to documentaries which, while profitable, were not money minters. Indeed, his winningest year at the Oscars was not during the innovative heyday of the 1930s and 1940s, but 1953. That year, he set a record that has yet to be broken, winning four statuettes at a single awards ceremony. And, though respected by film historians, the winning films — The Living Desert; The Alaskan Eskimo; Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom; and Bear Country — weren’t exactly rakin’ in the dough. I mean, what would be the possible Happy Meal derived from The Alaskan Eskimo or The Living Desert? Mickey Mouse blubber? Gross. Goofy cactus juice? Again, no.

    What’s often misunderstood by people who haven’t studied Walt Disney Productions, as opposed to today’s “The Walt Disney Company”, is the degree to which it was a company of two halves. Walt was definitely the dreamer, the artist, the guy willing to roll the dice on an idea. His is the story of an innovator more interested in positive and — I believe myself to be using this word correctly — mighty creation. If you want to blame someone at WDP for being “the businessman”, you clearly have to point your finger at Roy O. Disney. He was the guy who saw infinite magic in the most precious of phrases, “ancillary rights”. It was Roy who made it possible for Walt to believe his powers of creation so vast as to dream of building not just the world’s first animated feature, but ultimately a futuristic city called EPCOT. If you look at the early, pre-Snow White history of WDP one thing is abudantly clear: Walt Disney was a horrible businessman who needed saving by his brother.

    See, to my mind, the interesting sequel to Trish’s paper would in fact be one which examined the familial relationships. Put Ronald and Christopher in one corner, Walt and Roy in the other, and have ’em duke it out. Because, really, the difference between the two creators is their most significant familial relationship. It is most assuredly not that Walt was a businessman and Ronald was an artist.

  10. Trish January 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    You bring up some very interesting points. Thank you for reminding me that Roy O. saw to the business side of things…I tend to think of Walt as both sides of the house. I often think of Disney and Snow White when I read about Jackson and the Hobbit movies…the choices made in adaptation, the use of leading edge technologies, the care taken to characterize each dwarf even if speaking roles are not involved. There are many parallels there. I’m giving a paper on the evolution of The Hobbit from spoken tale to written work to film in March, and if time permits (I only get 15 minutes and I’ve bitten off BIG topic!), I will offer Disney and Snow White as an example of both the creative/adaptive process and the studio hype the preceded release. Thanks again for reminding me that the two sides did not originate with the same Disney.

    A tag team match – Ronald/Christopher vs. Walt/Roy O.!!! What an idea!

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