The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins

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Title: The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins
Creator: written by Charles R. Green, sung by Leonard Nimoy
Date(s): 1967
Medium: audio LP
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS, Tolkien, Science Fiction Fandom
Language:
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The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins is a 1967 cult song about Bilbo (a character from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings), perhaps all the more popular with fans because it was first performed by Leonard Nimoy (aka Spock). It was included in the Ringers: Lord of the Fans documentary.

It was heavily promoted by fans. From Chatter Boxes #3 (1967):

"'The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins' and 'Cotton Candy' are two great selections you will all want to add to your record collection -- particularly, your Leonard Nimoy record collection -- so rush to your record stores TODAY and ask for Dot Record No. 45-17028! And don't just stop at that! Request that your favorite deejays play both 'BBB' and 'CC' -- spread the word -- and spread the 'sound'... the 'Nimoy sound'!... Members, here's our chance to offer to our Honorary President our complete cooperation! Please call the radio stations and request that they play this new single by Leonard Nimoy -- and write postcards to the stations to request that they play it! Order it in the record stores -- if they don't have it, keep after them till they get it for you! This way, when the sales report goes to the radio station, they'll notice it more and start playing it! Let's offer to Leonard Nimoy all the help we can in his new endeavor of recording!!!"

A Staple, with the Stapling...

A fan remembers:
Another staple of the collating party was the music. In the beginning, we had a vinyl 45 record that I had bought by mail without hearing, and I regret I'm unable to say now who it was by. It was called "The Ballad of Star Trek" and it began, "The Great Bird of the Galaxy/Swooped down on prime TV. . ." and the resounding chorus went something like, "Star Trek Lives/The Trekkies grow stronger each day/Enterprise flies on/Meeting aliens and planets on its way". It was a delightful little ditty. We'd also play the albums recorded by Leonard Nimoy. (Bilbo/Bilbo Baggins/Only three feet tall/Bilbo/Bilbo Baggins/Greatest little Hobbit of them all. . . Rollin', rollin'/Rollin' down the river. . .) Later, of course, we had our own Omicron Ceti III songs to sing aloud, with or without music. All that enthusiastic singing made the work more bearable! [1]

Reactions and Reviews

The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins had not been released at the time of this writing, but it was performed on July 27th on a truly abominable television program called Malibu U. Mr. Nimoy lounged on a rock and sang to a half dozen addled females who will not, I hope and trust, be part of the record itself.

Tho song could have been better or worse. Its melody was lifted, I should think, about 50-50 from Davy Crockett and The Purple People Eater . In its general tone it is no more astray than the Ballantine cover of The Hobbit. It is perhaps a bit more patronizing, but not unduly so — the sort of attitude one of tho Big Folk would have taken toward Bilbo's adventures.

The line describing Bilbo as "the greatest little hobbit of them all might be taken as a slur against Frodo, except that the rest of the song, speaking of Bilbo in the present tense, can clearly be dated between 2942 and 3018 Third Age (1342 and 1418 Shire-Reckoning). Indeed, the piece might well have been composed by one of the Men of Bree; and, since Mr. Nimoy is the only man I over laid eyes on who could play Strider, tho effect is quite pleasant and not at all out of tune with Tolkien's universe.

When I met Mr. Nimoy last December, he had not read The Lord of the Rings. Indeed, I believe he had never heard of it. When Karen Anderson met him this July, she got the impression that he had at least read The Hobbit and had loved it.

If Bilbo Baggins goes well, she told me, he intends to do a whole album of Tolkien songs. This would be a very good thing. He might, perhaps, do the Flanders and Swann settings of some of those songs. Certainly, Mr. Nimoy is capable of doing justice to much better material than Dot has given him so far. [2]

References

  1. Reminisce With Me/Producing a Fanzine in the Before-Time, Nancy Kippax
  2. a review by Dorothy Jones of Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock's Music from Outer Space, in Spockanalia #1