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TCG Letter #912

Charles Mitchell
J.R.R. Tolkien
26 August 1966
Typed Letter
Further to various letters from Charles Mitchell he writes to Tolkien including some lyrics for Joni's song 'I Think I understand'. He explains that Joni arrived at a word, 'Wilderland' before she read Tolkien's works. Tolkien was widely credited as inventing the word, and according to Charles, Joni had arrived at it independently, but in 1969 Joni says that she borrowed the term from Tolkien.

Joni introduces the song at a concert on July 7, 1969:
"A few years ago I read a trilogy by an Englishman named Tolkien. It left a big impression on me because there are so many different ways that you can read your own things into it... and get your own hope and light and everything from it.

"My favorite character, of course, was a lady wizard by the name of Galadriel. And when the travelers came to her kingdom before they had to venture off into very dangerous places and everything, she gave them a vial of light and she said 'take this vial and whenever you're in a dark place take it out'.

"Well, being into metaphors a lot myself I decided that what she probably was giving them was a memory of a beautiful time and with that interpretation and her hope and her memory, well... I borrowed a phrase from him... 'the wilderland' which was a place they had to go through. And the wilderland is just like it sounded, it's a wilderness and full of all kinds of hoary monsters and things. Just like life.

"So I call this song, I Think I Understand, Fear is Like a Wilderland."

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