Does Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” refer to The Lord of the Rings, or am I crazy?
You’re not crazy. “Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor / I met a girl so fair / But Gollum, the evil one, crept up / And slipped away with her,” Robert Plant sang in “Ramble On.” This doesn’t actually make much sense in terms of the book–Mordor’s the last place you’d expect to pick up a girl so fair, and Gollum didn’t care for anything except his precious–but Plant was freely adapting the trilogy for his own song about life on the road. Plant was enough of a J. R. R. Tolkien fan to name one of his dogs “Strider,” a name used by Aragorn in the books (and Viggo Mortensen in the movies). In concert, Plant would even shout out “Strider!” during performances of “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp.” He dropped other Tolkien references into his lyrics: the title of “Misty Mountain Hop” refers to Middle-Earth geography, while “The Battle of Evermore” mentions “ringwraiths.” That doesn’t mean that every Zeppelin song with Celtic or Druidic overtones was a Tolkien pastiche; Plant was a devotee of British mythology and history. Or as Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones put it, “Robert was into all that fairy stuff.”
(Excerpted from the 2006 book Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed, published by Three Rivers Press, written by Gavin Edwards.)