Unexpectedly, one day, The Boy sat down beside me and said, "Do you know what my favorite part of the Lord of the Rings books is?"
I thought for a moment, imagining battles in The Hobbit and the other books, wondering. Could it be the spiders is Mirkwood, or maybe Bard and Smaug? Perhaps the fights in Moria, at Helm's Deep, or Minas Tirith? Tolkein was typically more skimpy on descriptions of warfare than Jackson's vivid interpretations, so it was hard for me to pinpoint something in the books themselves that would rate high on The Boy's Awesome-o-meter.
"I don't know. What is your favoirte part?" I smiled.
"The songs," he said.
It took me a second to process that. He meant the poems. Well, at least what I called poems - as I was introduced to them as 'spoken' cadences in my head. But yes, they were indeed songs, as the narrator Rob Inglis reminded us by actually singing them.
Upon the realization of what The Boy meant, I was rather overwhelmed with emotion. I had been blindsided. As a kid, I had dug through those books are read those songs over and over. I even sat down and wrote my own after hearing the songs in the cartoons. I turned my head and wiped the tears from my eyes.
"What's wrong," my son asked.
"Absolutely nothing," I said, clearing my throat and weakly smiling. "I like the songs too."
"You know what my very favorite song is?" he asked.
I shrugged. It was safer to shrug at that point, since I was still blinking away moisture.
"Roads Go Ever Ever On," he smiled widely.
I just about lost it. Only through an iron will did I not just sit there and sob.
"That's a good one," I squeaked.
Something about Tolkein's works get me - deep down. I heavily identified with Frodo and his pains and travails as a child. Tears still fall - either in the books or Peter Jackson's movie. That's probably why I like to watch the DVDs in the dark.
Listening to the books, I'm amazed at how - absent - the songs are from the movies. Jackson still provides the emotional context via images and the soundtrack. But really, the songs are the soul of the books. The fact that my son understands that at some level - while not surprising when I think about it - is still very comforting.
Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.
- The Hobbit