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Into the West (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Into the West" is a song performed by Annie Lennox, and the end-credit song of the 2003 film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. It is written by Lennox, Return of the King producer and co-writer Fran Walsh, and composed and co-written by the film's composer Howard Shore.[1] The song plays in full during the closing credits of Return of the King,[1] although instrumental music from the song (which forms the theme of the Grey Havens) plays at other points during the film itself.

The song was later covered by New Zealand singers Yulia Townsend and Will Martin and American singer Peter Hollens. In 2014, German a cappella Metal band van Canto performed a cover on their fifth studio album, Dawn of the Brave.[2]


The original song conceived as the closing credits of the movie was "Frodo's Song" (which exists only in mock-up form), which became "Use Well the Days," written by Howard Shore. The song was Frodo singing to Sam as he left Middle Earth and includes Frodo’s lament in the middle of book 6 chapter 9 “The Grey Havens." Director Peter Jackson felt that the song wasn't a good fit as a concluding song for the series, so Shore began to try to write a different closing credits song. As he did, Cameron Duncan, a young Māori New Zealand filmmaker whose work had impressed Jackson and his team, was dying from cancer at 16 years old, and his imminent passing inspired Shore, film writer Fran Walsh, and singer Annie Lennox to write "Into the West."[3] The first public performance of the song was at Duncan's funeral.[4]

The melody of the song is one of the musical themes used in the music written for the film, representing the Grey Havens and the land of Valinor that lies beyond. It is used subtly when Gandalf describes the vision of Valinor to Pippin in Minas Tirith, and later triumphantly as Sam carries Frodo up Mount Doom. It returns in cellos and humming voices during the Grey Havens scenes. The song itself soon follows, with a prominent guitar solo that opens and closes it and continues to accompany the song throughout, and a heartbeat-like motif played by bodhrán drums underneath.

Lyrics from the song come primarily from Legolas’s lament at the end of book 6 chapter 4, "The Field of Cormallen" and the parting scene at the Grey Havens and Frodo’s experience approaching Eressea and Valinor at the end of book 6 chapter 9 "The Grey Havens." The song's meaning has been viewed from a myriad of perspectives: Galadriel singing to Frodo as she welcomes him to the ship, a bittersweet Elvish lament sung by Legolas for those who had sailed across the Sundering Sea, Sam’s feelings towards Frodo as they complete their task and prepare to die on Mount Doom, or even Death itself singing to each member of the fellowship as they prepare to pass away.[citation needed]


The song has five different versions, in addition to the version used in Return of the King (with the orchestral ending). Promos were made available in late November 2003.

  • "Into the West" (album version) – 4:35
  • "Into the West" (radio edit) – 3:59
  • "Into the West" (acoustic edit) – 4:05
  • "Into the West" (acoustic version) – 4:39
  • "Into the West" (w/o orchestral ending) – 4:34
  • "Into the West" (film version with orchestral ending) - 5:48


The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 76th Academy Awards,[1] one of Return of the King's eleven wins. Lennox also performed the song live at the ceremony. Lennox's performance was one of several introduced by Liv Tyler, who appeared as Arwen in the film.

Award Category Result
Academy Awards Best Original Song Won
Gold Derby Film Awards Best Original Song Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Original Song Won
Grammy Awards Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Won
Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Original Song Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Best Original Song Nominated
World Soundtrack Awards Best Original Song Written Directly for a Film Nominated


See also


  1. ^ a b c d Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 137. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ "Van Canto: 'Dawn Of The Brave' Album Preview". 16 January 2014. Archived from the original on 23 February 2014. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  3. ^ Howard Shore, Paul Broucek, Peter Jackson (2004). Extended Edition Appendices, Part 6, "Music for Middle-earth" and "Cameron Duncan: The Inspiration for 'Into the West'" (DVD). New Line Cinema.
  4. ^ Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens (2004). Director/Writers' Special Extended Edition commentary (DVD). New Line Cinema.
This page was last edited on 18 June 2022, at 19:18
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