The Fellowship of the Ring (Chapter 9 - At The Sign of The Prancing Pony):
'A song!' shouted one of the hobbits. 'A song! A song!' shouted all the others. 'Come on now, master, sing us something that we haven't heard before!'
For a moment Frodo stood gaping. Then in desperation he began a ridiculous song that Bilbo had been rather fond of (and indeed rather proud of, for he had made up the words himself). It was about an inn; and that is probably why it came into Frodo’s mind just then. Here it is in full. Only a few words of it are now, as a rule, remembered.
There is an inn, a merry old inn
beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
one night to drink his fill.
Granted, Frodo doesn’t sing it in the film, but let’s forget about that for a minute. Let’s cross the streams.
What if Bofur taught the song to Bilbo. And then years later, Frodo heard his Uncle Bilbo singing a silly little song to himself one evening while enjoying a pipe in his armchair, or on a sunny summer’s day in the garden.
And when Frodo asked about the song, Bilbo took credit for the writing of it. To do otherwise would mean laying memories bare that still ached, still cut, fresh as the day he took his first steps eastward, with the Lonely Mountain at his back, and dear friends behind him.
It was easier to bend the truth than tell it plain, and considering all that, he didn’t imagine Bofur would mind.
Because that story wasn’t quite ready yet.
I always felt like we could cross the streams the other way. Keeping it in canon that Bilbo wrote the song.
By the time they get to Rivendell Bilbo and the dwarves have been on the road for weeks. I don’t doubt that Bofur has spent some time with Bilbo during that point, and we know that Bilbo has a fondness for songs and poetry. What if that’s the first moment of their friendship, Bilbo teaches Bofur the words but maybe Bilbo doesn’t know the tune it should go to and Bofur is like ‘I know exactly the melody for this!’. It’s a collaborative effort and then it just gets stuck in everyone’s heads. It’s the song Bofur now goes to default to hum while riding or working, maybe Bilbo hums it under his breath while helping with dinner or collecting wood. The song infects the company, eventually all the dwaves know the song by heart like that one pop song that you enjoy but might not want to admit you enjoy.
So when Bofur sings it at Rivendell he’s thumbing his nose at the elves even more than what you feel like originally. He’s laying claim to their hobbit, because he’s singing their song. It probably startles Bilbo as well that all the dwarves know the words to it, it makes him feel for a moment like he belongs because of all the songs his dwarves know and can sing they choose that one.
Bilbo told the truth that he wrote the song to Frodo. But like in all things Bilbo didn’t tell Frodo the whole truth, he didn’t speak about how Bofur wrote the tune, that the song became almost as much a part of the journey as the Song of the Lonely Mountain. That when Bilbo sings it to himself he’s trying to remember the friendship and love of the journey and not the hate and pain.
elluvias, tell me truly: are you, or are you not, a wizard?
Because this is magical. I love this. Oh wow, I love this. This has hooks in my heart now, latched on and here to stay.