In my last post, I talked about the excellent Game of Thrones concept album SEVEN from the Manimals. The album is a collection of songs representing seven characters from Game of Thrones. The post not only described the concept in more detail but also featured a discussion of the song Mother, the point of view of Daenerys Targaryen.
This post will be covering the tracks Teeth and Lone, which are representative of adorable murder-angel Arya Stark and Jon Snow, the young man who gave Arya her iconic instrument of death, Needle. (The best swords have names, yo.)
TEETH (track #2)
(See the annotated lyrics for Teeth)
Whoozit?: Arya Stark. Also known as Arry, or Nan, or Weasel, or Cat, or other names. Like Mercy. Arya Underfoot. Arya Horseface. She’s in the running with Daenerys for the most names.
My Thoughts: The Stark sigil is a direwolf, and wolves are famously faces-full-of-teeth, giving the song its name. It’s probably the most punk-rock eff-you song on the album, which suits Arya well since she’s the most punk-rock eff-you of all the Starks.
Riding with the devil, something feral
I’m living for the metal
And I’ve known I could be no one since they left me alone
I won’t weep, I’ll just repeat
Soon I’m gonna show em my teeth
The song encapsulates a lot of Arya history: her disinterest in behaving like a lady, the words of Syrio Forel, her thirst for revenge, and several references to the Faceless Men. I like to think of this song as happening in Arya’s head when she is first beginning her training in the House of Black and White, so the following line would be foreshadowing her eventual punishment:
A needle’s eye could make the whole world blind
The lyrics are great, and so perfectly representative of Arya, it’s hard for me not to just paste them all here. But I want to focus on just two things.
Yeah I’m the wolf bitch
You wanna be on my list?
Arya’s list of names, of people who have wronged her and who she is going to relentlessly pursue, is an element of Arya that’s tied into her core being. Arya is terrifying (and makes me worry about her as a character.)
Is it true that summer’s over?
I thought this would go much slower
All of the Stark children (including Jon Snow) have references to the end of summer in their songs on SEVEN. Arya and Bran have identical references, so I’ll talk more about that when I get to Summer, Bran’s song. But in Arya’s context the two lines note that Arya has been forced to grow up too fast and too soon. Anything comfortable and innocent about her has been worn away, just leaving her snarling teeth.
One Seventh: Of the Seven gods, the Stranger is the divine aspect associated with death. When the faithful in Westeros build statues to the Seven, the Stranger is never given a human face, often has no face at all. It’s clear to see why Arya Stark, a faceless assassin in training, is associated with the Stranger.
LONE (track #2)
(See the annotated lyrics for Lone)
Whoozit?: Jon Snow, the bastard of Winterfell, Lord Snow, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. That guy who knows nothing.
My Thoughts: Lone is Jon Snow’s sad song of regret and duty. It’s clearly taking place during some quiet time when he has a moment to think of Ygritte, the girl with the hair-kissed with fire, who got him to forsake his vows of celibacy during his time as a captive among the wildlings. The song is definitely after the first attack on Castle Black, when Ygritte was killed in action.
End of summer and I think about you
And the delicious pain that you put me through
Jon’s thinking of the past, with thoughts of the grim future crowding in. (With ice zombies!)
Now words I’ve sworn just turn to wind
I would stay with you until the dead roll in
Reminiscing about a lost love is rough, particularly since it was a doomed relationship from the start. Taking the song out of its Game of Thrones context, it’s a great song for anyone just reflecting on either being in or having been in some kind of disfunctional relationship.
I was better off alone
When I was lone, lone, lone, lone…
For Game of Thrones hardcore fans, there’s even a reference to blue roses. I will provide no other context here. But YES. Blue roses for the win.
The word lone is clearly a reference to wolves, the lone wolf being one without the benefit or protection of a pack. It’s particularly apt for Jon, since he was killed by his comrades in the Night’s Watch. (I don’t need to explain the Jon Snow-wolf connection? Right?)
One Seventh: Haley has said that for the album, she associated Jon with the Father aspect of the Seven, which I can see. Not that Jon is a father. In fact, being a member of the Night’s Watch, Jon has taken a vow to never become a father.
I will take no wives, hold no lands, father no children
But Jon has always struggled with father (and mother) issues. Being Ned Stark’s acknowledged bastard, but treated very poorly by his step-mother Catelyn, Jon always strove to be as much like honorable Lord Eddard as he could, to make up for having no maternal influences whatsoever. The Father aspect of the Seven is all about making rules, passing judgment, and that also closely tracks with Jon, who tries hard to honor his vows, and harshly judges himself when he falls short.
I was delighted that Arya and Jon have songs that were next to one another, and also that Jon’s label Lone could also have been applied to Arya. Both are lone wolves cut off from their pack, but their experiences as lone wolves are far different from each other. In the first book, Ned had a wonderful father-daughter conversation with Arya, the only one of his daughters that he knew how to talk to.
When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives
Jon needed a pack to survive, since he found himself alone among unexpected enemies. Arya is her own pack, and will avenge those that she lost.
Since I covered two of the Stark family in this post, it’s only fair that the next post gives the Lannisters their turn. Specifically, Tyrion and Cersei Lannister, who are given voice in the songs Talk and Half.
(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, although the lower image of Kit Harrington and Maise Williams I’m sure came from the Entertainment Weekly special, that preceded Season 5.
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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© Patrick Sponaugle 2016 Some Rights Reserved