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Winter Is Coming

Game of Thrones Calls Upon Indie Rockers The Hold Steady to Sing One of Westeros’ Most Popular Songs

“The Rains of Castamere” is good and all, but man what a downer. The Hold Steady will be trying their hand at bawdy drinking song “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” instead for season three of Game of Thrones.

The song, about a fair maiden who’s wooed by a bear (here are the lyrics) pops up quite a few times throughout the series. Say showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss:

“This is one of the most popular songs in Westeros, beloved by nobles and commoners alike, sung at taverns and feasts and etc. We wanted our rendition to be bawdy and a little sloppy — drunken musicians getting up on the table and jamming while the rowdy party continues around them. There was no one better for the job than the Hold Steady, and the song they delivered has been stuck in our heads for the last four weeks.”

I’m guessing it’ll be played over the end credits of episode seven, as it’s titled “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” (yes, yes, I’m a regular Sherlock, I know) and is almost certainly the episode where not-so-fair maiden Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister find themselves up against a bear (A BEAR! All black and brown and covered with hair!) in Harrenhal.

I must confess to not knowing any of the Hold Steady’s songs—most of my attention goes to movies, not music—but HBO did well choosing The National to sing their eerily beautiful cover of “The Rains of Castamere” last season. So I’m excited to hear the ribald drinking song I’ll be adding to my iPhone in a few months’ time.


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  • Joshua S. MacDougall

    I love the National version of Rains of Castamere so I am excited for this.

  • Justin Harrison

    The Hold Steady are a hyper-eloquent Minnesota bar rock band with a knack for storytelling and a love of examining American party culture. This should be good.

  • Anonymous

    I’m really looking forward to this song. It’s especially fun when you realize it’s about cunnilingus. I don’t know if episode 7 will really have the mood for that song considering the violence involved, but who knows?

  • Mitch

    I’m looking forward to this, but, at the risk of passing judgment prematurely, they’re going to have an awful tough time outdoing Irish Moutarde:

  • Kate Holloway

    It’s kinda forced cunnilingus though since the maiden initially resists. She succumbs but it kinda falls under a “women don’t know what they want” or “no means yes” rape trope that’s pretty prevalent in Westeros.

    That’s not a criticism of Martin; he does a great job of portraying the negative implications of that kind of rape trope.

    I’m just saying the song is kinda violent and always registered as kind of menacing. Like picturing a bunch of drunk men laughing while you get sexually assaulted kind of way, which makes sense since that’s very similar to what happens in the bear pit: leering, jeering men cheering on a bear they’ve pitted against a woman armed with a wooden sword.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Yeah, it’s kind of a rapey song. Which fits with the universe GRRM’s created, but… still. *shudders*

  • Anonymous

    Very true. I hadn’t thought it’s more sinister implications in regards to Brienne’s situation. THat could be very … bleeegh… But for the song itself, I kind of see it like “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. Everything in that song has date rape written all over it, but I still can’t help but enjoy it. (Especially the Star Wars version!)

  • Alicia Joan Little

    Interesting that the song is “the bear and the maiden fair” when the pixar film Brave is about a girl and a bear and its main theme is a gaelic folk song called Noble Maiden Fair…