'Pippin' Performs The Final Ballad Of 'The Hobbit'
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
A bittersweet moment for moviegoers and Gandalf fans.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES")
ELIJAH WOOD: (As Frodo) It's done.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Yes, Mr. Frodo.
WOOD: (As Frodo) It's over now.
MARTIN: Peter Jackson's thirteenth cinematic journey through J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth wraps up Wednesday when "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" opens in theaters. And who better than a former hobbit to close out the epic series with a song? Billy Boyd is best known as Pippin the Hobbit from the "Lord of the Ring's" movies. But under the curly week and prosthetic ears is a musician, and the front man for the band Beecake. His song "The Last Goodbye" will cap off the final film. Billy Boyd joined me from our studios in Culver City at NPR West. Billy, thanks so much for being with us.
BILLY BOYD: It's really nice to be here.
MARTIN: So I just want to start off by having you play this song. You have in the studio with you a band mate. Do you want to introduce us?
BOYD: Yeah. Across from me here I have the guitarist from Beecake. It's Billy Johnston.
MARTIN: Take it away, you two.
BOYD: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE LAST GOODBYE")
BOYD: (Singing) I saw the light fade from the sky. On the wind I heard a sign. As the snowflakes cover my fallen brothers, I will say this last good bye. Night is now falling. So ends this day. The road is now calling, and I must away. Over hill and under tree, through lands where never light has shone, by silver streams that run down to the sea. To these memories I will hold, and with your blessing I will go. To turn at last to paths that lead home. And though where the road then takes me, I cannot tell. We came all this way, but now comes the day to bid you farewell. I bid you all a very fond farewell.
MARTIN: What a beautiful song.
BOYD: Thank you very much. Thank you.
MARTIN: It is a significant end of a big chapter. I mean, your own role in these films came to a close for you several years ago. But to write this song must feel significant to you.
BOYD: Yeah, it feels - I think that's the right word - significant. And in some ways, it feels like there couldn't have been a better thing for me to sort of hear because it feels like there will never be closure in this sort of Tolkien world. You know? But I feel very honored that they would ask me.
MARTIN: Is there a place you go or a thing you had to do to get back in the state of mind because this song definitely evokes some of the images and the feeling of those films.
BOYD: The whole thing sort of fell into place. An flying back to New Zealand was a major part of that. To be back in New Zealand, which pretty much is Middle Earth to me, you know? It's the only history I have of New Zealand is to travel to the top of a mountain with a wizard, you know? And to destroy a ring.
MARTIN: For you that's totally normal.
BOYD: Yeah. So whenever I'm in New Zealand, you know, I'm always looking for, you know, some kind of dwarves to help me and a wizard to help me through the journey, you know? So to be back in New Zealand brought back so many memories that I got back into that world very easily and very quickly.
MARTIN: We should mention this isn't your soundtrack debut because your character, Pippin, gets a little moment. He sang a song in the third "Lord Of The Rings" movie. Let's listen to a little bit of that.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING")
BOYD: (As Pippin) (Singing) Home is behind, the world ahead. And there are many paths to tread.
MARTIN: Haunting. And you cowrote that song, right?
BOYD: Yeah, the words are Tolkien from a couple of his poems, but I wrote the melody for it. And I actually wrote it very quickly. The story of that song starts in a karaoke bar where I was singing "Delilah" by Tom Jones. And the next day...
MARTIN: I'm not hearing the parallel with this particular tune.
BOYD: We get there. It's not too long a story. I'll try and cut it down. The next day they said would you like to sing a song in the movie? I said yeah. They said we're filming it in two days. Can you write something? And I went, yeah, OK. And I had this great evening when I thought, god, I get to invent a hobbit song, you know? So I thought back to my own upbringing in Scotland and parties that we used to have and how the grandfather would sing a song and before you knew it, you knew the song and you'd be singing it at parties, you know? So I wanted to get that in this Pippin song. So that's how it's got that kind of Celtic feel and a sort of a feeling of longing for home, I thought. You know?
MARTIN: Yeah. When you were writing "The Last Goodbye," I mean, how did you think about that effort - pulling together all these different stories, yet keeping it something that felt small and intimate at the same time?
BOYD: I knew that I wanted it to be a song from Bilbo Baggin's perspective. You know? It's a young man coming home from war, and how do you live with the loss and the things that you see? So that was a big part of it, but it also had to be a sort of goodbye to Tolkien on the cinema screen.
MARTIN: And you watched as the credits rolled, and your song was the backdrop.
BOYD: Yeah. And that's quite a strange thing. It's hard to watch for two and a half hours before your bit comes on. (Laughter) But people seemed to like it. They felt that it led them out of the theater in the right way. And that was the most important thing for me.
MARTIN: Well, Billy Boyd, it has been a pleasure. Actor and musician Billy Boyd - you can hear him sing in the latest and last installment of "The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies." He joined us along with his band mate Billy Johnston. Thank so much to both of you.
BOYD: Thank you very much. Lovely to speak to you.
MARTIN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Our theme music was written by BJ Leiderman. I'm Rachel Martin.