News

Indie rock band will bring “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” to life

The Hold SteadyAccording to Entertainment Weekly, American indie rock band The Hold Steady have recorded “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” for Game of Thrones . The lyrics of the song appear in A Storm of Swords, and Ramin Djawadi has composed music for the show version.

According to executive producers David Benioff and D.B. 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.”

EW also reports that they are “sworn to secrecy in regards to how the song will be used,” and that it’s not necessarily where ASOIAF fans might believe it would be sung. The song will be released on April 20 to promote Record Store Day.

Ours is the Fury: I’m not surprised the show decided to use a similar tactic in creating “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” since using The National to record “The Rains of Castamere” was a hit last year. I am curious as to where the song will pop up on the show, since we had previously heard of one instance in filming when the extras sang it.

102 Comments

  • First!

    Told ya gaining a song was about having a new one produced for the show and not a title!

  • The fact that they are treating this song as an important entity gives me hope that Season 3 will be more faithful than Season 2

  • No exaggeration, Butterbumps belting out the song while Lady Olenna, Margaery, and Sansa talk about Joffrey is probably my favorite single part of the whole series.

  • Awesome!

    I assume that means not when Sansa and the Tyrells are talking (like in the book) but when Brienne is actually in the Bear pit (Don’t think it’s sung in this scene in the book). As your report says.

  • As I said in the other thread, I’m giddy about this. Love the Hold Steady.

    As for the use, I imagine this version will be like The National’s, right? Not actually in the show but rather the credits? With a cast sung version somewhere in the show? Maybe not, though, by their comments.

  • They could use the song more than once, as they did with Rains of Castamere last season. Not only was the produced version played during the credits of Blackwater, but Bronn and the soldiers sang it a cappella, Tyrion walked around whistling it a couple times, and it was part of the “Lannister theme” composed music. I could see them doing something similar with this song…

    Sent from my iRaven.

  • You’re probably right, the change they’re referring is what we already reported about the extras singing it around the bear pit, instead of it being Butterbumps and the Tyrells.

  • Hmmmmmmmmm…

    Interested to see what it will sound like spoken over the top of pop rock, with an annoying, nonchalant and lazily angsty voice.

    Spoiler: – I do not care for ‘the hold steady’

    But hey, it’s in the show, so there’s that.

  • I think it will be sung in a tavern somewhere to foreshadow the bearpit.

    Ps The ‘first’ thing still drives me crazy (I know I’m a curmudgeon!)

  • Jaime Saltcliffe:
    First!

    Told ya gaining a song was about having a new one produced for the show and not a title!

    It seems like it was referring to both, since the episode will be titled “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”.

  • It’s worth stressing that the song was written by Djawadi (with Martin’s lyrics) and performed by the Hold Steady. So comparing it to the songs they have written doesn’t make a good barometer for what we’re going to get.

    I think it’d be cool if there was a troupe performing it in the show, but since these guys clearly aren’t identified as cameos (a la the Coldplay and Snow Patrol guys) that seems unlikely. I guess they could attribute it to the extras singing around the pit but that doesn’t make a lot of sense either.

    In any case, I love this kind of stuff… very excited to hear they are going the distance with this scene and song. How are we supposed to wait the rest of the month without exploding, though, is beyond me…

  • Now, I just hope we can get a good version of The Dornishman’s Wife from Mance Rayder, as well as The Rains of Castamere at you-know-what.

  • Davidbc: or… A new credits sequence!?! OMG!!

    I just thought of this the first time!
    There won’t be Winterfell in the opening credits this season, right? :(

  • Strange, I thought WiC.net reported that the bear and the maiden fair would be sung in the bear pit scene

  • coronaking,

    i think winterfell will show up. remember last season they show the wall even though they were no scenes there. i feel the wall, winterfell and kings landing will be the places that always show up in the credits.

  • Wish they’d use actual medieval folk bands and musicians to perform that kind of music instead of “indie rock bands”, come on… bands like Corvus Corax, Stille Volk, Omnia, they were born for playing those songs.

  • Best guess is that it’s sung…by the Bloody Mummers aka Brave Companions during Brienne’s battle with the bear, and their singing comes to a screeching halt, but the instrumental version kicks in when Jaime jumps in to save her…or atleast that’d be my hope as to how it goes down…

  • Ew, indie rock…

    we’ll manage I guess.

    Komrade,

    See, that’s a bar/drinking/bawdy song. Bleh, indie rock. All pretentious and probably taken too seriously. It’s already been done so nothing to do but try to enjoy whatever there is.

  • Awesome news. I’m not the biggest fan of the Hold Steady but for a cover version to play over the end credits this will be perfect. Just as it was with the National’s version. I think it’s important to point out that the music that Ramin wrote for the Rains of Castamere is fantastic but it was the National’s delivery of the lyrics that has polarized the fanbase. Go on YouTube and people cover Ramin’s version in a very traditional medieval sound and they are wonderful.

    I think as fans we should be excited that our books are getting the pop culture treatment in this way. Seriously did you ever expect to read an article in EW that a well known indie rock band would be covering the Bear and the Maiden Fair? I sure didn’t. I’m betting the House that the Hold Steady version wil play in the end credits in that classic “HBO show plays random but relevant music at end credits time” . We will probably hear a more traditional take within the diegesis and after a soaring moment be taken into the end credits with the HS version as a way to celebrate the moment.

  • Zack,

    So are you calling people who like indie rock pretentious? Enh never mind. There is nothing more subjective than our individual tastes in music.

  • Nick_Scryer: Me too, sadly I don’t think the official version will come anywhere close to this fan version. Especially considering I don’t like the singers voice in The Hold Steady after a quick youtube search of their songs :(

    I got about four seconds before I got interminably bored. Medieval music is terrible, and I’m glad D&D are bringing a modern sensibility.

    Djawadi is writing the melody, like he did with The Rains of Castamere, so it will not be anachronistic, just like The National’s version was not.

    But save me from strumming mandolins. I have no urge to listen to ren faire music.

  • Maybe the singer that Tyrion has killed will sing it in regards to him and Shae? But more likely the Bear fight.

  • BrendanSnow,

    Vargo Hoat and Donnell Locke, a Bolton bannerman has been merged into one character and the Companions are now Stark/Bolton men ala the nasty Northern soldiers that Brienne encounters in “Valar Morghulis”.. This saves them money on casting (and costume design) and will not confuse the audience with the BC switching sides. Locke is played by Noah Taylor who is known for his creepy characters and his lisp.

  • Zack:
    Ew, indie rock…

    we’ll manage I guess.

    Komrade,

    See, that’s a bar/drinking/bawdy song. Bleh, indie rock. All pretentious and probably taken too seriously. It’s already been done so nothing to do but try to enjoy whatever there is.

    Lots of people dislike The Hold Steady — the lead singer talks more than he sings, and the voice has character rather than being a good voice.

    But on the positive side, they are an incredibly energetic band, great live, have great guitar licks and their lyrics are always interesting and fun.

    They’re indie, but it’s hard to call them pretentious. Kind of nerdy, really, like really nerds, not fake-glasses-hipster types. Their fans may be pretentious but the band doesn’t.

  • Indie dream casting for next year’s song from the books?

    Toro Y Moi’s synthed up ‘The Last of the Giants’.

    Chillwave.

  • BrostavoFring:
    Indie dream casting for next year’s song from the books?

    Toro Y Moi’s synthed up ‘The Last of the Giants’.

    Chillwave.

    Unfortunately, we’ll get the placement for that song this year. But maybe they can find another place. The Dornishman’s wife will come back, though.

    I have a feeling that The National’s version of Rains sold very, very well, and the overall soundtrack may have gotten a halo. I can see this being a “thing” because D&D obviously like these bands AND it’s another revenue stream.

  • i’ve spotted a problem with their reusing of the ‘indie rock band cover’ tactic. the national are good. the hold steady are not.

  • Alan,

    Quick YouTube search of them didn’t make me a fan (the vocal type isn’t my style), but I respect your opinion. Music is such a personal thing anyway, and people respond or don’t for a multitude of reasons. And it sounds like they don’t have a reputation that fits what I was talking about anyway, so it’ll probably be quite a bit better than I feared.

  • Ill have to go back and re read a few chapters but doesn’t Mance sing that song when he is introduced to Jon? Or perhaps it was The singer in the BwB when he meets Arya and Gendry, Lem I think.

  • So my Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds recommendation from a while ago didn’t pan out, Darn! There’s still the Dornishman’s Wife…

  • Nope. Got my characters mixed in the BwB. It was Tom of Sevenstreams that sings it to Arya and Gendry. So maybe that is where the song is gonna be played in that episode.

  • m3shwerks:
    So my Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds recommendation from a while ago didn’t pan out, Darn! There’s still the Dornishman’s Wife…

    Oh my god. Nick Cave and ASoIaF together, I don’t know if I could handle so much greatness. Having said that, I can’t really imagine a Nick Cave rendition of The Bear and the Maiden Fair. Perhaps it is for the best.

  • Joshua Taylor,

    If Noah Taylor has a natural lisp than that will be perfect for the show! HBO can avoid criticism from people thinking they are making fun of a person with a speech impediment. Instead they are now considered an inclusive company! Also, Jaime making fun of his lisp would be totally within character given Jaime’s past actions (pushing bran out of a window, attacking Ned stark, killing Alton Lannister). I feared HBO was worried of the backlash they would recieve about the lisp. Lets hope it’s still in!

  • How about they dust off the piggy bank and get an actual singer in that style of music? Or at the least a Celtic star like Loreena McKennitt or something.

  • BlackTomBalerion,

    I wouldn’t call it my favourite but I do love that chapter. So cathartic for Sansa to finally be able to speak truthfully to another person about her feelings towards Joffrey, and for her to be given a little hope in return (even if it doesn’t amount to anything). Also a great proper introduction to the Queen of Thorns and her relationship with Margaery.

  • @ Kg you must be over 50….and cranky…

    If you listen to 20 seconds of this band live and you can hear how well this is going to turn out i feel sorry for you.

    wait to judge and shut up :)

  • Zack:
    Alan,

    Quick YouTube search of them didn’t make me a fan (the vocal type isn’t my style), but I respect your opinion. Music is such a personal thing anyway, and people respond or don’t for a multitude of reasons. And it sounds like they don’t have a reputation that fits what I was talking about anyway, so it’ll probably be quite a bit better than I feared.

    Oh, no, Zack — there’s a good chance you won’t like it. The Hold Steady is definitely a different taste. I love them but most of my friends are blah. So it’s a bigger risk than The National.

    That said, it’s not a Hold Steady song. So much like Rains, Djawadi isn’t likely to make it too contemporary.

    To be honest, this may be a mistake, but I’ll like it!

  • KG,

    Because this is a clever way for them to makret to a younger demo. Old Celtic singer would not be worth talking about… this gets the show press, and press in the cirlces of people who actually purchase things.

  • Carne,

    Damn, it’s blocked in the US, imagine that! I’d love to see a clip of Noah Taylor with a lisp. Maybe we won’t lose ‘Thapphireth’ after all.

  • Frey Pie:
    I love this fan version – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6VMSYIXCCY

    Thanks for posting that. As a musician (amateur), I really liked the choices he/they made with his/their phrasing. As a Bostonian (professional), I really would like to hear a Dropkick Murphy’s version. :-) Either way, given the meter of the lyrics, I think an uptempo Celtic composition is best.

  • johnny motherfucker,

    Not at all. I just feel that bringing “rock” musicians into a show like Game of Thrones is as stupid as having Mel Torme showing up at a Slayer concert.

    P. S. You sound like the sort who thinks “Glee” is the pinnacle of musical performance.

  • Skew the demographics all you want – but if it undermines the realism of the show, it’s a bad thing.

    Fuck it, why not drag out Alice Cooper to do his entire live show during Joffrey’s wedding? And then we can get the cast of Les Miserables for his funeral! And Skrillex for Hoster’s funeral!

    Some opposites should never meet.

  • Mike Chair,

    I dislike that version because it’s treated like any old bard song. There’s no sexiness or fun to it, when the song is the last one that should be taken seriously. It’s for drunken singing, where the crowd joins in loud and off-key and has a good old drunken time. IMO anyway. That’s why that other one upthread appeals.

  • “A bear there was,
    A bear, a bear
    All black and brown
    And covered with hair! ”

    This reminded me of Butterbumps

  • Zack,

    Yes. I hadn’t read far enough down in the thread before I commented. The Irish Moutarde version I believe you cited is along the lines of the Dropkick Murphy’s version I imagined. In fact, on their website, the Irish Moutarde cite the Dropkick Murphys as being in their Repertoire.

  • “there’s a beast in every man and it stirs when someone puts musical criticism in his hand”

    Or something of the like. There is no point debating musical tastes at all. All you get is nastiness.

  • The Hold Steady are probably my favourite band. Incredibly literate and witty, and hard rocking to boot. They’re a pretty odd match for a medieval setting, but then so were the National. We’ll see what they do with them.

  • Mike Chair,

    Thanks for this comment! I wasn’t familiar with the band (The Dropkick Murphys) until your comment, but this style is really cool. I’d heard the one song from The Departed but didn’t know who performed it. Always fun to find a new band I enjoy.

    And I can absolutely hear the Dropkick Murphys influence on Irish Moutarde’s version of this song (not familiar enough with either band to comment on their discographys as a whole, however)

  • i wish they would do the last of the giants, i liked that song. maybe like all the wildlings start singing whilst walking in the column

  • Nick_Scryer,

    I think the “in show” version will sound more like the minstrelsy fan version tou libked to but there will also be a fun, rock version they play over the closing credits, which I think is a cool idea. Excited to hear them both

  • KG,

    I mostly disagree with points like this. Take Ramin D’s score…. He uses synthesizers and a plethora of instruments that weren’t invented until the 17th 18th and 19th centuries. The musical style if the score doesn’t sound remotely like medieval music. It sounds like contemporary film score music. But it works wonderfully, and it never gives me a jarring anachronistic feeling. I love the opening scene of the pilot episode with the moody synthesizers snd crazy drums. I don’t think playing a rock version of Bear over the closing credits will be inappropriate at all.

  • I’ve never heard of this band, but I just listened to them and I think they could do a really good rendition of a bawdy tavern song. I’m a little skeptical about what electric guitars will sounds like, but I’m going to keep an open mind until I hear it. Maybe they will do it acoustic.

    If it turns out that I don’t like it after I hear it, then I will forget about it and go on with my life and continue to love this show and these books.

  • KG,

    You mean a Canadian who makes world music with stereotypically “Celtic” elements? Loreena McKennit has a beautiful voice and I enjoy her music, but it’s not what I’d call authentic.

    Actually I’ve listened to some of the “medieval” music people linked to in this thread and they were about as authentic as those low-cost “medieval” outfits at RenFairs. So if that’s the alternative, they might as well have modern rock bands do the songs, at least those have a more contemporary appeal. (FWIW I really liked the National’s Rains of Castamere.)

  • barak:
    KG,

    You mean a Canadian who makes world music with stereotypically “Celtic” elements? Loreena McKennit has a beautiful voice and I enjoy her music, but it’s not what I’d call authentic.

    Actually I’ve listened to some of the “medieval” music people linked to in this thread and they were about as authentic as those low-cost “medieval” outfits at RenFairs. So if that’s the alternative, they might as well have modern rock bands do the songs, at least those have a more contemporary appeal. (FWIW I really liked the National’s Rains of Castamere.)

    She was an easily-identifiable example. :) I don’t care who they get, just get the rock bands out of my GoT.

  • I’ve always imagined it sounding like an English pub song from the 30-40s, like “Penny On the Drum” by Stanley Holloway.

    Will you please put a penny on the drum (on the drum)
    Will you please put a penny on the drum (on the drum)
    We only need a tenner to buy a new piano
    So please put a penny on the drum (on the drum)

  • I’m a big Hold Steady fan, but if I could pick a Bear and Maiden Fair covering bad The Dismemberment Plan have been gigging again.

  • I’ll hold out hope that it’s good but personally I would rather have one of the many extremely talented young bluegrass bands do it… Old Crow Medicine Show, Railroad Earth, Infamous Stringdusters, Trampled by Turtles, or the Punch Brothers. They are all capable of doing a perfect Celtic/Medieval sound with a drunken energy.

  • This is good news! I liked how The National was worked into the show with their version of “The Rains Of Castamere”, so if its anywhere near that I will be more than pleased!

  • So I finally looked these guys up on YT and I can’t say that I’m a fan, HOWEVER, I trust D&D and Ramin Djawadi so I will reserve judgement on their version until I hear it.

  • KG,

    Speaking of modern music mixing with GoT my bf sent me this text yesterday, which had me in stitches “ for the RW, they’re gonna turn the tables on all of us: Right as the Freys are about to kill The King in the North everyone breaks into the Harlem Shake…and that’s how the season ends.

  • As a Scot I’ve always been curious, what do people mean exactly when they say “celtic music” anyway? What kind of music are you thinking of?

  • Biscotti: As a Scot I’ve always been curious, what do people mean exactly when they say “celtic music” anyway? What kind of music are you thinking of?

    Basically, the song “Stonehenge” by Spinal Tap

  • The Hold Steady are a great band but take some time to get used to. Definitely an acquired taste. I had Separation Sunday in my iTunes for months feeling just kind of eh and then one day it just randomly played a song and it all clicked for me. The lyrics are awesome little mini-stories that often double back on each other. I’ve dug most of their albums since, even got a Hold Steady t-shirt signed by the whole band when they came to Ottawa Bluesfest a few years ago :D.