Lord of the Ringos

First Things has a piece on the anonymous garage band that may have helped inspire J.R.R. Tolkien to keep the Beatles from ever getting their mitts on The Lord of the Rings and making a movie out of it starring themselves.  Whenever I contemplate what a massive train wreck that project would have been I always think of this:

You will read things out of the Red Book, and keep alive the memory of the age that is gone. so that people will remember the Great Danger and so love their beloved land all the more.

In remembering bad things that have happened, it is too easy for us to forget how many far more horrible things never happened, and all the good things that happened instead.  The Beatles never made their version of LOTR, Deo gratias, and Peter Jackson did.  My sons and wife never died in childbirth, but live and are happy.  I didn’t start through that intersection 30 years ago when I should have, because I was fiddling with the radio and didn’t see the light change.  So the teenager who was doing 50 when he ran the red light only clipped the front of my car instead of killing or crippling me.  I wonder how many Great Dangers have come to nothing?

Anyway, thank you anonymous garage band for saving us all from a Beatles Lord of the Rings.

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  • Good points about how it could always be worse. As a Beatles fan, I can’t imagine anything to do with LoTR that would be worse than a Beatles version. And yet, call me cynical, I’m still not sold on the idea that it ever happened or was suggested. I’d like to see some proof beyond ‘Sir Paul said they did.’ Kubrick passed away, so he can’t be reached for verification. And as a Beatles fan, with quite a few shelves of books, mementos, and other paraphernalia, I can honestly say I never saw anything close to mentioning ‘the time when the Beatles tried to make LoTR.’ Not one scrap of a letter. Not to mention I’ve seen multiple reasons and accounts for how it fell through (the Beatles didn’t want John having the spotlight, Tolkien said no, Kubrick said no, the project never got off the ground, the project was all but ready to go when it fell through). I still haven’t seen anything other than references to the McCartney/Jackson versions. Again, call me skeptical, but some other evidence would be nice, just to know how close we came to such a disaster, one that would no doubt make Jackson’s versions look like Citizen Kane.

  • I like the Beatles, and I like the Lord of the Rings in the same way that I like ketchup and scrambled eggs. Separately and individually, considered on their own merits, they are positive goods. Together they are a disaster and an abomination.

    • KML

      On the other hand, there’s eggs and salsa. So maybe it’s a divine sign that it should have been LOTR and….The Who?

      Gandalf, can ya hear me…

  • Lawrence King

    I agree that a Beatles LotR would have been horrific, but to me the Peter Jackson monstrosities are almost as bad.

    Complex fantasy and simple pop-rock don’t go together. But there are some awesome progressive rock fantasy albums, such as Jon Anderson’s Olias of Sunhillow, Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Beethoven’s Last Night.

    Tolkien’s masterpiece is a work of the written word, not a movie or a musical suite — and it’s best kept that way. IMHO.

  • Say what you will, Ringo would have made a great Sam.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    I love rock music and the Lord of the Rings. But the two don’t mix.

    And as much as I love rock music, I have to admit that the Beatles are the second most overrated band in all of rock history. Pink Floyd being #1.

  • Heather Price

    Would they have ridden a Yellow Submarine instead of barrels? Hmm…

  • astorian

    I figure it would have been as bad as “Magical Mystery Tour” but much longer.