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The members of the fellowship busied themselves with preparations for the inevitable conflict. Gandalf worked with a quiet intensity as he tuned his 1973 Les Paul Standard to open C tuning, a tuning reserved almost exclusively for wizards and mad men. As he did so he calmly instructed the fellowship, “The band coming toward us is almost certainly comprised of goblins. But from the depth of the harmony and the volume of that kick drum, it is entirely possible that they have an troll with them as well. This will not be an easy battle, but if you each remember your jobs, we should be fine.” The comment was directed almost entirely at the four hobbits, who had plenty of experience playing in the Green Goblin, but for whom battle music was an almost entirely foreign concept.
The rest of the fellowship were unloading their gear a well. Legolas powered on his beautifully crafted keytar and played a series of notes for Boromir and Gimili to tune to. It was said that Legolas’ keytar was crafted by the master craftsman and queen of elves, Galadriel, and that one time Legolas had kissed her back in high school. Boromir boasted a vintage Martin D18 acoustic guitar, obviously a child born into some money. Gimili sported a slightly more modest, but nonetheless bold, 1962 Hofner 500/1 Electric Bass. It was an uncharacteristic instrument for a dwarf, who usually tended toward more overly heavy metal guitars and basses. When he had a few drinks in him he would start to swear that Paul McCartney had once played the bass, a fact that few would question, but still fewer would believe.
Aragorn, unsheathed his epic 1957 startburst stratocaster. Everyone was jealous. Even Boromir was, though he pretended not to be. What a guitar.
The hobbits, pulled out their instruments as well. Sam played a snare, kick, and high hat drum kit. He began to set his kit as best he could on the uneven ground of the cavern. Frodo nervously tightened the pegs on his bongos while Merry tuned his fiddle, trying his best to play along with Legolas’ true notes. Finally Pippin, unsheathed his mandolin. It was a stupid mandolin. Really shabby stuff.
All the while, the ska music grew louder and more obnoxious. As the din grew closer, it became clear that there was in fact a lead singer at the head of the band. His vocals were the worst. He was a middling tenor with the poor pitch control typical of a goblin…But it was the unrelenting full tone vibrato that swing wildly on and off key that really made this particular performance extra harrowing for everyone involved. “What kind of creature would make a noise like the voluntarily?” Merry asked the others. None responded. They were too busy actively forgetting the situation so as to ward off the nearly unavoidable brain damage caused by prolonged exposure to such terrible, awful music.
The goblin band was nearly upon them and it became clear that the goblin was singing words. There were lyrics to this song. To make matters only slightly worse, the words made absolutely no sense–none whatsoever.Peanut butter, babies cry/ Salamanders sleep at night/ Don’t behave your good red smile/ After all please stay a while/
The goblin howled the words. Its was impossible to tell whether this horrible mishmash of common sayings was a ska standard of some sort or if the goblins composed the verses themselves, fueled by an embarrassingly incomplete knowledge of the common tongue. Both possibilities seemed equally likely.
Just as the goblin finished his song with the paradoxically phrased expression “I love your hate to feel my love, my love,” holding the last note for a long enough time for Sam to clear a wedgie not only from both his own buttocks, but also the butt of Mr. Frodo. Sam was really considerate all the time.
But there was no time for wedgies, swirlies, punch buggies, or noogies for the goblin band now stood before the fellowship, breathing harshly and basking in the glow of imagined applause. Their smiles turned from mirthful to sinister as the goblins took in the sight of the small band. The foul creatures outnumber our heroes nearly three to one and they think foolishly that they have the advantage.
For one perfect second everyone is frozen, aware of the chaos about to ensue.
Gandalf breaks the silence by plucking a single chord out of of his Les Paul. It’s in the kingly key of Eb. Clearly, he has come to rock.