Her Ladyship tries listening to A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones on the way to work, and comes out on the other side with a very short playlist.
Arya Stark – O Death (Jen Titus)
An abandonment of life and religion for a surer deity than the old gods or the new, this song is a primal and freezingly euphoric hymn that deserts all hope in life and justice, and lingers almost lovingly on the grave with a fearlessness and acceptance that is Arya’s alone…and perhaps the Faceless Men’s. It’s the soundworld of what happens in her head when she whispers her names into the dark, and what rings through her mind when she hisses to Lord Beric that Death is her one true god.
But what is this that I can’t see
With ice cold hands taking hold of me?
When God is gone
And the devil takes hold
Who’ll have mercy on your soul?
Sandor Clegane – Break (Three Days Grace)
The lyrics ‘tonight I start the fire’ assume a very different kind of meaning when put into Sandor’s context. This is the song of a person trapped by themselves, the roughness of enduring this so difficult that it sinks into their very voice. But while this song also expresses Sandor’s desire to escape himself and take control of his own fears, it clings to its own identity and to brutal reality with a searing lack of idealism, for all its mention of ‘higher places.’
Tonight, I start the fire
Tonight, I break away
Break away from everybody
Break away from everything
If you can’t stand the way this place is
Take yourself to higher places.
Daenerys Targaryen – Radioactive (Imagine Dragons)
The preposterous auspiciousness of the band’s name aside, this song is the sound of waking up from darkness to something that could turn to a blinding light, or to an apocalypse, particularly if we consider Daenerys after she emerges alive from the pyre. It’s the blood that she knows she will spill, and the blood she doesn’t want to spill; it’s the certainty of what she must do and why, and everything that makes it hard to do; it’s Meereen, it’s Drogon, it’s the bones of a child, it’s an ancient madness she fears and that she knows lurks in her blood.
I’m waking up to ash and dust
I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
I’m breathing in the chemicals
I’m breaking in, shaping up,
Then checking out of the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse.
Catelyn Stark – The Other Side (Evanescence)
The Other Side is what shoots through Catelyn’s head when presented with the bones of her husband. It expresses the longing of a person who has lost someone, but can’t go to them because of what they’ll leave behind. In Catelyn’s case, it’s family, duty, honour. Once Ned dies, Catelyn lives for her children, and then for fewer of her children when she believes that Bran and Rickon are also gone, until she’s clinging to the thought of Sansa, Arya and Robb; all that loss and pain seeming to turn her heart colder and colder as it armours itself.
Counting the days to meet you on the other side
I will always be waiting
Until the day that I see you on the other side
Come and take me home.
Jaime Lannister – Numb (Linkin Park)
Wildly appropriate if considered in the context of Cersei rather than Tywin, this is a sung, if unspoken cry from the deepest depths of the Jaime of A Feast for Crows, still keenly conscious of a lifetime of being one half of a whole, but starting to get a bit tired of his other half’s bullshit. Being a whole by yourself, and no one else, when you’ve spent most of your life only being a half, is a terrifying transition to make. Still more dreadful is when you’re forced into that solitude by a change that the other person cannot accept; when they persist in clinging almost ferociously to a ‘you’ that no longer exists.
Can’t you see that you’re smothering me?
Holding too tightly
Afraid to lose control
Cause everything that you thought I would be
Is falling apart right in front of you.
Sansa Stark – Blinding (Florence + the Machine)
This song is Sansa after Ned Stark’s execution; a lifetime of utopian dreaming shattering so powerfully that she feels it ‘in the hollows of [her] eyelids.’ Still worse, it’s the horrifying realisation that the person who comprises the very fabric of that dreaming state is a monster. At the same time, however, it’s also an optimistic compulsion to grow up; a deeply-entrenched knowledge that dreams are not the real world, something that Sansa will push away from herself time and time again because dreams are the only way she knows how to seek refuge. As she gets older, however, she does return to it more and more often, until she becomes Alayne Stone and the lines start to blur – her identity a dream and a lie, but the world realer to her than she has ever seen it.
No more dreaming of the dead
As if death itself was undone
No more calling like a crow
For a boy, for a body in the garden
No more dreaming like a girl, so in love, so in love
No more dreaming like a girl, so in love, so in love
No more dreaming like a girl
So in love with the wrong world.
Tyrion Lannister – Winter in my Heart (Vast)
The musical manifestation of the aftermath of Shae’s betrayal and ‘where do whores go?’, Winter in my Heart is the Tyrion of late A Feast For Crows and most of A Dance With Dragons; breathing, but not quite alive, heartbreak (Shae) and guilt (Tysha, not to mention Tywin) hollowing him out and making him a broken thing. The continual, haunting repetition of the words ‘but I try,’ however, are the result of a lifetime of being torn down, and of an exceptionally strong spirit that cannot; will not; refuses; to accept it.
I need a summer but the summer’s come and gone
I need a summer but it’s winter in my heart
It’s all the same fucked-up game you played with me
I need to hold you, but you’re never coming back.
Tywin Lannister – Running Up That Hill (Placebo)
Always present in this song is a soft and silent, barely perceptible heartbeat, and for Tywin, its name is Joanna. We don’t know an awful lot about Tywin’s beloved wife beyond the fact that she wore the pants in the Tower of the Hand and that he is incapable of forgiving Tyrion for being born. But the fact that Tywin never speaks of her if he can help it, not to mention the glorious, horrifying dialogue between him and Tyrion in episode one of season three, suggests a whispered fragility at the heart of his soul that he would never admit to in a million years. This whisper of Tywin’s love for Joanna is reflected in every syllable of this song, and the sheer vehemence with which he treats Tyrion in accusing him of killing his own mother to come into the world leaves us in no doubt that if Tywin could change places with Joanna and let her live, he would do it in a heartbeat, for all this constant blathering about staying alive to protect his blood.
And if I only could
Make a deal with God
And get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
With no problem.