Rock on: A tale of Hawkwind

Playing around in the world of Tamriel (that’s where them there Elder Scrolls games are set, y’all) has put me in a mood to listen to Hawkwind. See, Hawkwind is basically the essence of Tolkien/Dungeons & Dragons-derived works distilled in rock form. You listen to it and somehow you just can just feel the ren faire oozing out of your speakers. I mean, this is the band that collaborated frequently with Michael Moorcock and produced an entire album based on the tale of Elric of Melniboné. It is music that sounds like the way roasted turkey legs and mead taste, the way pot smoke smells.

At some point, the Elder Scrolls games are going to run out of regions to be set in. At that point, I’m hoping Bethesda takes the series to a new continent. And when they do, I hope there’s a kingdom in that new land called Hawkwind.

Of course, the band isn’t entirely unselfconscious medieval nerdery. There’s also a lot of unselfconscious sci-fi nerdery as well. It tends to overlap. (I have a feeling Richard Garriott listened to a lot of Hawkwind.)

Of all the bands I’ve been listening to for the past 20 years, I actually know the least about Hawkwind and their music. I only have a handful of their albums, but their output has been prodigious and constant for four decades. They have so many albums it’s intimidating, and that’s before you get into all the weird splinter groups and alternate versions of the band bearing their name of their frontman (Nik Turner’s Hawkwind, etc.). However, of all I’ve heard of their music, the essence of the band is probably best encapsulated in the song above, “The Psychedelic Warlords” from the album Hall of the Mountain Grill. It captures their sound and also their overall ethos of nerd-fiction-tinged fantasy that’s ultimately just a thinly veiled pot reference.

The comments on that YouTube section capture a part of the band’s essence, too: A discourse on the grading and types of narcotics. I still have no idea how I ever got into music like this. I never partake of pot or ren faires. But I will be partaking of Skyrim, which maybe is kind of the same thing.

8 thoughts on “Rock on: A tale of Hawkwind

  1. The music is pretty darn D&D, but holy @#$% that album art belongs on an arcade cabinet. I can’t look at that and not envision some kinda weird mash-up of Gauntlet and Tempest… and maybe a little Joust.

  2. my first exposure to hawkwind was indeed at a D&D game, where i sat in on a long running campaign of temple of elemental evil, using 1st edition rules. the dude running the game had a license plate that read ncc-1701, and was more or less 1970s vintage nerd right out of central casting.

  3. When I discovered that Lemmy, of Motorhead fame (forgive the lack of umlauts), was in Hawkwind, my mind was blown. BLOWN. It remains so to this day.

  4. Always pumped for a music post! I haven’t listened to Hawkwind in years, love that these guys are the reason Lemmy became a bassist.

    Jeremy, have you listened to any of the throwback prog rock bands from the last decade? Wobbler, Anglagard, Sinkadus, seems to be a Scandinavian thing. This is the closest I’ll get to living through the 70’s, very much in the vein of Yes, ELP, Gentle Giant, Genesis, King Crimson…

  5. That bit about “the essence of Tolkien/Dungeons & Dragons-derived works distilled in rock form” made me think of Rhapsody of Fire (aka Rhapsody). I can’t pretend to know a ton about them, but this must surely fit them to a tee (with no sci-fi-ness in the mix that I know of).

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