In the previous two posts, I’ve talked about the excellent Game of Thrones concept album SEVEN from the Manimals, which features the point-of-view of seven characters from the series. You can be introduced to the full idea in my initial post, where I also talked about Daenerys Targaryen’s point-of-view song, Mother.
This post will be talking about the tracks from SEVEN that correspond to Tyrion Lannister and his sister Cersei: Talk and Half. (Jaime didn’t get a song on SEVEN. But he’s kind of there with Cersei’s. Sort of.)
TALK (track #4)
(See the annotated lyrics for Talk)
Whoozit?: Tyrion Lannister. The Imp. The Half-Man. The Giant of Casterly Rock, yo.
My Thoughts: Tyrion is perhaps the best talker in Westeros. I mean, it’s what he does. (Along with drinking and knowing things.)
Tyrion is famous for his ability to communicate. It’s gotten him out of many tricky spots and of course is evidence of his intellect. But the song does not necessarily celebrate Tyrion’s loquaciousness. Instead it’s a sad song, as Tyrion reflects on loss. The song includes many references to his first wife Tysha, who is mentioned in passing early in the show and never really mentioned again in the HBO series. But her memory haunts Tyrion in the books, particularly when he is a fugitive from King’s Landing.
She was shy and I was just a boy
I wonder where a girl like that would go
Anyone familiar with Tyrion’s story from Book Five will recognize the reference to his obsession with asking “where do whores go?”
In the song, Tyrion is rather hard on himself, questioning his worth, feeling empty and useless.
A cliche of a broken thing
A ruin filling up on wine and skin
After all, one of the common sayings in A Song of Ice and Fire is “words are wind”, roughly a rephrasing of “deeds, not words.” Tyrion really isn’t known for his physical prowess.
I won’t fight like a lion of the rock
But damn it if I don’t give good talk
One Seventh: Unexpectedly, Haley Bowery associates Tyrion with the Warrior. This might seem odd, until one considers him saving Catelyn Stark’s life during a melee with brigands, getting his Mountain Men auxiliaries charged up at the battle of the Green Fork, organizing the crucial defense of King’s Landing, taking charge during the Battle of Blackwater to rout Stannis’s men trying to batter down the gates of the city.
Some of that was physical, but most was due to his inpirational oratory skills. Tyrion is a persuasive speaker. Despite his small stature, he’s a leader. Words may be wind, but so are tornadoes. So I’m fine calling him the Warrior. Even ironically.
The song is clearly sung from a Tyrion who is fleeing Westeros after killing his father, Tywin. Or rather, he’s being bundled up and carried off to somewhere, he doesn’t know, or really care. Possibly where whores go, if fate is kind. Or cruel. Depending.
HALF (Track #5)
(See the annotated lyrics for Half)
Whoozit?: Cersei Lannister. (Cersei doesn’t seem to have many nicknames…)
My Thoughts: When I first saw the song listings, I assumed Half would be Tyrion’s song, because, you know … Half-man. Shows that I’m not all that smart. Cersei Lannister is classically defined by being a twin, to the dashing (and dastardly) Ser Jaime. The song is Cersei’s song, but at its core, it’s also about Jaime, or at least how Jaime is a part of her self-identity.
I’ve always had this nightmare
I think it’s coming true
Have I ever told you the things that I fear
Or did I always mirror you?
Half suggests that Cersei feels like she is incomplete without Jaime. Not in a healthy “you complete me” or “you’re so good for me” way, but as in she’s not quite all there without him. Only half. Mixed in with this recognition of her need for Jaime, is also her jealousy that of the two of them, he got the more favorable situation (in her view) in being a man.
Cersei, being a few seconds older of the two of them, always had a sense that she was the leader in their relationship. After all, when she was born, he was clinging on tight to her ankle, as if he was the one desperate to stay attached to her.
In the beginning, I saw daylight
You had grabbed ahold
Yeah you grabbed ahold
It’s true that Jaime was always trying to avoid being separated from Cersei. When the twins felt that Cersei might be married off to Rhaegar Targaryen, Jaime arranged to be appointed to the Kingsguard, so he’d be in the capital near his sister on the assumption that she’d marry the prince, and not be stuck at Casterly Rock without her. (And with Tywin and his constant judgment.)
It’s probably more appropriate to say that Cersei does not do well without Jaime nearby. Certainly her worst times were when they have been separated and she was free to do as she pleased. Which lead to her walk of shame.
But where has my pride gone?
I need my other half
One Seventh: To my delight, Haley maps Cersei to the Crone. Okay, already it can be seen as a twist, since the Crone is an old hag and Cersei Lannister is still beautiful and certainly not over-the-hill. But in her mind, she feels like she’s far past her prime now that the young and beautiful Margaery Tyrell, for example, is set to topple her. Cersei, as a young girl, was given a prophecy to that effect and it’s kind of been pushing her into the Snow White Evil Queen role (who transformed into a crone for the poison apple delivery, as I recall.)
And I’m not paranoid, paranoid
She saw it in my blood
Also, the Crone is associated with wisdom (which Cersei doesn’t have but totally thinks she does) and prophecy (the Crone’s lantern lights the way to the future.) So every beat of Cersei’s narrative points to the Crone, at least in my opinion. Yes!
Clearly, we know this song is from Cersei at her lowest, all of her plans have gone awry, and she’s desperate for Jaime to return to assist her. The question is, does he still want to? Is he also just a half?
Tyrion and Cersei were perfectly suited to have tracks, side by side, on the album, just like Arya and Jon. Not that they would appreciate that.
The next post will be dedicated entirely to Brienne of Tarth, and her biographical song Good.
(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)
Images from HBO’s Game of Thrones (obviously.)
I make no claims to the artwork and only claims to the text that excludes Haley’s lyrics from Seven. So there.
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