By Jorge Solis
During last Sunday’s episode, what was more surprising to you, the viewer? Were you shocked as hell with what happened to Jaime Lannister? Or, was it the song playing during the end credits? Let’s check out how indie music and a bunch of Brooklyn rockers are shaping the tone of this season’s “Game of Thrones.”
The last episode, “Walk of Punishment,” ended with a shocking act of graphic violence. Locke (Noah Taylor), a member of Lord Bolton’s Hunters, swung his sword and chopped off the right hand of the Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). What’s Jaime going to do now without the use of his sword hand? Just when Jaime was about to scream, the scene then smashed-cut to black. To catch their breath, viewers might have expected silence when the end credits started rolling. Instead, they were listening to “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” performed by The Hold Steady.
In the world of Westeros, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” is supposed to be a rowdy song that sloppy drunks sing at the tavern. The drinking song was composed by Ramin Djawadi and the lyrics came from the “Game of Thrones” author, George R.R. Martin. So then, why would Hold Steady turn a simple ballad into a drum-kicking rock song?
Hold Steady guitarist Tad Kubler told Wired, “Obviously, we’re not going to do a medieval-type jam.” Their version isn’t something you would usually hear in a fantasy series, but the band found a way to personalize the lyrics and make it work. Kubler added, “An episode of ’Game of Thrones’ is not unlike some of the earlier Hold Steady tours in that everybody was wasted and…bloodshed was imminent at any moment.”
Then why choose to play their track after such an intense climax? When asked about the inspiration behind the placement of the song, showrunner David Benioff said to Entertainment Weekly, “What we (Djawadi included) always loved in ’An American Werewolf In London,’ we see our hero shot and killed, and then his lover runs to embrace his dead body — it’s a sad ending — but then we cut to black and it’s the bouncy 1961 Marcell’s hit, ’Blue Moon.’ And that jarring juxtaposition was fantastic.”
Even before this third season started, remember in the trailer we heard the song, “Bones” by MS MR. With the use of “Bones,” the vocals and lyrics set the tone of what audiences should expect from this latest season. Just because the series is set in the medieval time period, that doesn’t mean showrunners Benioff and D.B. Weiss can’t look outside their realm. Benioff and Weiss found a way to connect a traditional setting with modern audiences.
Music has no boundaries as indie rock bands are being influenced by “Game of Thrones.” We’ve had the National doing the Lannister family victory song, “The Rains of Castamere,” Chvrches and their ’80s dance mix of the show’s opening theme, and now, Hold Steady with their rendition of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair.” I can’t wait to hear what the next musical choice will be for the series.
“Game of Thrones” airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO.