The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
from my Off the Record column, China Post, 2002
In reviewing this CD, I found myself in a bit of a quandary. On the one hand, I thought that “Lord of the Rings” was probably one the finest examples of filmmaking in cinematic history, and definitely the best fantasy film ever made. But then there was Enya, whose music transports me into a psychic hot tub filled with naked 40-something new-agers in Boulder, Colorado, where I’m forced to discuss “transpersonal psychology” until I begin weeping. When I was watching the movie, I was spared this, embroiled as I was in the adventures of Baggins and company.
But at home, alone with the soundtrack, there were neither panoramic landscapes nor stunning visual imagery to distract me when Enya’s track came on, and I was plagued once again by accursed visions of naked, hairy people beckoning me into their wooden tub for an extended discussion on “spiritual healing through inner child work.”
I need to underscore here that I have nothing personally against Enya – I just can’t listen to her music without succumbing to these terrible visions. Luckily, most of the tracks on the album were not Enya, but straight landscape mood music from Howard Shore. Shore (and I may be dating myself here) was the musical director of Saturday night live from 1975 – 1980, during the period before the show descended into the long, downhill slide of suck that has been part of the American national nightmare for over two decades.
While the position of this soundtrack on the charts clearly indicates that a lot of people are buying it, I wonder how many times people who aren’t on LSD or playing dungeons and dragons will actually listen to it. On the whole, the album is pretty heavy, filled with music that’s excellent for transporting one into a fantasy world, but not very conducive background music for normal activities – driving, for instance. My prediction is that, in the year 2004, there will be millions of “Lord of the Ring” CDs gathering dust alongside copies of “The Tomita Planets,” another heavy conceptual album that lots of people bought for some reason but only listened to one time.