Neil Finn was a little surprised when director Peter Jackson asked him to write a song for his latest box office record breaker,The Hobbit.
The two, both native New Zealanders, have crossed paths a few times, but Finn told CBS Local he thought Jackson might have wrote him off after a less-than-stellar performance in 2005.
“We played a set at the wrap party for King Kong,” he explained. “Although it should be noted I made a complete hash of ‘Ticket To Ride’ that day and it’s a wonder Peter didn’t cross me off the list given his love of The Beatles.”
When the former Crowded House frontman got the call from Jackson and two of the movie’s co-writers Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh, he wasn’t about to remind him.
Instead he took Jackson and Walsh’s helpful words of advice: “Think Dwarven. To reach, to elevate.”
In preparation to write “A Song For The Lonely Mountain,” which appears in the end credits of the movie, Finn started by reading the book and was then able to see a few scenes of the movie itself.
Finn says writing a song for the film, which grossed $84.8 million its opening weekend, breaking a December release record and beating the previous opening weekend numbers for all three Lord of the Ring films, is much different than writing a song for one of his own albums.
“It has such a context, Middle Earth parameters to observe,” he said. “So no mention of romantic love or modern times. But that’s good, less options means more freedom.”
Finn’s 4-minute song sounds like a Irish folk song telling the tale of the working men, or in this case dwarves, as they trek across the dangerous landscape that combines angelic vocals with the sounds of blacksmiths crafting their metal weapons.
He explained that Jackson was not interested in telling him how to write the song and instead left to his own devices. Trusting it would come out right.
“There is a calmness in what Peter projects, even in the midst of a crazy workload that allows collaborators to have space and confidence to bring their best work forward,” he said.
Though Finn is heading back to the studio to work on his own album, he admits he wouldn’t mind taking some time off in Middle Earth. What character would he most like to be?
“Radagast,” he says. “With his ability to communicate with animals, his rabbit sled and his good supply of mushrooms.”
The soundtrack for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, composed by Howard Shore, is out now.
– Shannon Carlin, CBS Local