In Tolkein’s “The Fellowship of the Ring,” four Hobbits set off from their home on an adventure. This is an unusual thing for Hobbits to do; they are notorious home-bodies and err on the side of caution when it comes to venturing out from their Hobbit Holes. These four Hobbits, though, are tasked with taking a powerful ring to a nearby town to meet with a wizard who will carry it from there to an Elfin stronghold where powerful people will deliberate on the fate of the Ring and of the world. On their way, the Hobbits meet a man named Tom Bombadil.
He is unusual; welcoming and kind, but suspicious and curious and powerful. He welcomes them for dinner, then offers them a place to rest for the night and sends them on their way, laden with food and strange advice. When they leave the house of Tom Bombadil, the Hobbits set off through the Barrow Downs, an expanse of ruins and graves haunted by wights. The Hobbits are taken by the wights, drained of their spirits, buried. The sun is setting on their adventure just eight chapters in until Tom Bombadil comes crashing into the mound in which the Hobbits are being held, defeating the wights and freeing the Hobbits.
Although freed, the Hobbits are still suffering from the effects of being taken by demons into a burial mound and having their souls leeched. Bombadil has a curious solution: he escorts the Hobbits to a beautiful meadow and asks them to strip naked and run back and forth through the grass with no clothes on. As the Hobbits romp naked through the meadow, Tom Bombadil sings songs full of fanciful rhymes and magic power that restore the Hobbits’ connection to the earth and to growing things with lyrics like this:
Hey! Come merry dol! derry dol! My darling!
Light goes the weather-wind and the feathered starling.
Down along under Hill, shining in the sunlight,
Waiting on the doorstep for the cold starlight,
There my pretty lady is, River-woman’s daughter,
Slender as the willow-wand, clearer than the water.
The reason I’m telling you about these Hobbits and their garment-less galavant through grass to the songs of Old Man Bombadil is because I have something to offer you— something that is like that, but better in every way. That something is a podcast by my friend Duane wherein people who may or may not be naked in the woods sing songs that sound kind of like songs by John Darnielle and that podcast is called “Transmissions to Goat Mountain: The Best and Only Podcast About the Mountain Goats.” If you’ve recently been captured and nearly killed by Barrow-wights, I recommend giving it a listen.