The ’60s were a mercifully accepting decade in pop music, and it’s a good thing, lest we not today have this superlative quirky gem.
Leonard Nimoy recorded a number of albums in the late ’60s–five, including the creepily titled The Touch Of Leonard Nimoy–all of which are amusing, but not exactly hall of fame material. They were, of course, just an attempt to cash in on the popularity of Star Trek and Nimoy’s fan-favorite role of Spock. Yet they did moderately well by novelty standards and survive today as curiosities of the highest caliber.
“The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins” sets to music the adventures of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit hero as told in, well, The Hobbit. The song scarcely does the book justice, but it’s an interesting little tune nevertheless. I can’t decide which is more amusing: hearing Nimoy sing about Bilbo “wriggling” with Gollum or that funky little bassoon solo (which, I’m guessing, was played on Mellotron, only increasing its excellence). I’m leaning toward the bassoon.
The song could originally be found on 1968’s The Two Sides Of Leonard Nimoy (on the left side, apparently things get pointier, if the album cover is to judge), but more likely you’ll find it today on Rhino’s 1997 Spaced Out, a compilation split between Nimoy and his Star Trek/faux pop star compatriate William Shatner. Shatner’s 2004 album Has Been is fantastic, but his ’60s contributions on Spaced Out pale next to the vocal stylings of everyone’s favorite sometimes-Vulcan.
Happy April Fool’s Day. For better or worse, this is not a joke.