Rivendell: Background

“The title comes from the serene village in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, which was inhabited by elves and landscaped by misty mountains (mist was an ancient mystery as it was an indeterminate element). It was a paradise on earth.”—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

In the piece, “ethereal timbres depict the elven sanctuary through gentle mid-range vocals, classical guitar (played by Geddy), soft and slow electric guitar, and no bass or percussion. In the electric guitar part, the volume fades in and out on each note, making their attacks and releases inaudible. This dissociates the sounds from the physical act of playing, enhancing their unearthliness.”—Nicole Biamonte, “Contre Nous,” in Rush and Philosophy. Biamonte points to the piece as an example of the band using exotic sounds to depict a literary landscape.

“Geddy’s keening vocals suggest the beauty this imaginary refuge had for him and Neil. Tolkien’s influence could also be heard on ‘By-Tor and the Snowdog’ and several later songs by the band. . . . The ever-popular Tolkien inspired other early 1970s rockers, including Led Zeppelin.”—Bill Banasiewicz, Rush Visions

Geddy tells a funny story about recording the song. The band had been working on Fly by Night for several days straight with little sleep and were due to leave the next day. Producer Terry Brown kept playing “Rivendell,” the last song to be mixed, to get their take on how it sounded. But the band members could never stay awake long enough to give their opinion. “We would begin the song, listening back, all kind of lying on the floor in front of the mixing console and we’d get to the end of the song and every single time one of us was sound asleep.”—Geddy in an April 16, 2013, interview with Jim Ladd, the day before the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Watch 40-second clip on this. 

Among the Tolkien-inspired Led Zeppelin pieces: “Ramble On,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” The Battle of Evermore,” and “Stairway to Heaven.”

More about “Rivendell”

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~ by rvkeeper on January 11, 2011.

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