Lord of the Feels: The enchanting effect of music

(Note: This post is spoiler-free)

We all have a basic understanding of our feelings, and what actions cause them. Some are common to us all, like exercise making us feel good; accidentally ripping your trousers at work makes us embarassed.

The rest of it is mostly subjective, as we all have different tastes. I plug in my earphones before leaving for work everyday. Today was a Monday, and my Monday blues vanished with the first track I played.

It was from Lord of the Rings.

And the feeling I associate with LOTR is so special, that I wanted to try and tell you about it, in the hope of maybe understanding it myself.

Almost the entirety of The Lord of the Rings movies is stored in my brain’s hard drive. And I don’t mean that from a trivial point of view, like I would do well in an LOTR quiz or something. No. It is largely the sentiment that is ingrained, and that is largely because of the music.

I’ve tried to understand why this is so, especially with LOTR alone. I think I know why. For me, in the hundreds of hours of movies and TV shows watched, in the thousands of pages of books read; essentially any art consumed in my lifetime - Lord of the Rings is the most powerful positive force I remember feeling, and still do.

Notice that I am not talking about great art here. No, I am hardly qualified to speak about greatness in any technical aspect on which art is rated nowadays. Neither am I speaking for what others feel. I can only be sure about my own feelings; and it is a great benevolent force I feel every time I watch LOTR.

A few notes from the soundtrack, and I feel electric surges of goosebumps all over, starting from the spine. It’s like I’ve just stepped out of the ocean, seemingly 10 kgs lighter. It’s like I’m Popeye eating spinach for the soul. Whatever is weighing me down up till that point, suddenly starts to fade.

Calling it inspiring is just too simplistic.

There are many different kinds of fears that hold us all down. Some more than others. I cannot even write about the number of things that scare me. I mean big picture things in life, not spiders. I’m scared of losing and failing at almost everything.

Lord of the Rings evaporates that fear. Even if it’s temporary, it helps.

It’s not that I am delusional, and start believing wizards and elves will save me. It’s just the attitude the characters take in the story. In the face of death and failure looming large, what they do and say cannot be forgotten. You can say it’s all fiction and not real, but what is worry if not fiction? Is it not something we manufacture in our head? If we can make that, surely we can make other things too, like courage, resilience, grace and joy. They are no less real for me because they came from Aragorn & Gandalf. In any case, Lord of the Rings is not a story of the triumph of power. It is the triumph of spirit, shown to be found in great measure in Hobbits, standing out even among other obviously powerful beings.

There are other movies too where music feels otherworldly to me, like the Star Wars theme, The original Lion King, Nolan’s Batman trilogy (and pretty much anything made by Hans Zimmer, Moneyball, and Rocky, to name a few. But the Lord of the Rings soundtrack overwhelms me like nothing else I have ever heard.

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