Song of the Day #1,792: ‘The Bear and the Maiden Fair’ – The Hold Steady

hold_steady_bearOne of the joys of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is the rich detail with which he paints the characters’ culture. Particularly entertaining are the dozens of songs Martin sprinkles throughout his tale — songs that evoke cheers or eye-rolling depending on the audience.

The brilliantly thorough Wiki of Ice and Fire lists 52 songs that show up in some fashion in one of Martin’s five books, including ‘When Willum’s Wife Was Wet,’ ‘The Maids That Bloom in Spring,’ ‘The Day They Hanged Black Robin’ and (of course) ‘The Rains of Castamere.’

HBO’s acclaimed series Game of Thrones, based quite faithfully on Martin’s novels, provides the added pleasure of hearing some of these songs performed. Martin’s lyrics have been set to melodies and belted out by marching men and wedding performers. It adds an intriguing new dimension to a world that is already so vivid in my mind.

‘The Bear and the Maiden Fair’ is a song that shows up in several of the Ice and Fire books, symbolizing a recurring theme of unlikely saviors.

Alt-rock band The Hold Steady were asked to record a version of the song in their own style for (anachronistic) use over the end credits of a particularly shocking episode of Game of Thrones‘ third season.

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

“Oh come they said,”
“Oh come to the fair!”
“The fair? said he,
“But I’m a bear!”
“All black and brown,”
“And covered in hair!”

“And down the road,”
“From here to there,”
“From here!To there!”
“Three boys, a goat,”
“And a dancing bear!”
“They danced and spun,”
“All the way to the fair!”

“Oh! sweet she was,”
“And pure and fair,”
“The maid with honey,”
“In her hair! Her hair,”
“The maid with honey,”
“in her hair!”

The bear smelled the scent,
“On the summer air!”
“The Bear! The Bear!”
“All black and brown,”
“And covered with hair!”
“He smelled the scent,”
“On the summer air,”
“He sniffed and roared,”
“And smelled it there!”
“Honey on the summer air!”

“Oh I’m a maid,”
“And I’m pure and fair,”
“I’ll never dance,”
“With a hairy bear,”
“A bear! A bear!”
“I’ll never dance,”
“With a hairy bear!”

“The bear,the bear!”
“Lifted her high,”
into the air!”
The bear, the bear!”

“I called for a knight!”
“But you’re a bear!”
“A bear! A bear,”
“All black and brown,”
“And cover in hair!”

“She kicked and wailed,”
“The maid so fair,”
“But he licked the honey,”
“From her hair!”
“Her hair! Her hair!”
“He licked the honey,”
“From her hair!”

“Then she sighed and squealed,”
“And kicked the air,”
“She sang: My bear so fair,”
“And off they went,”
“The bear! The bear!”
“And the maiden fair!”

One thought on “Song of the Day #1,792: ‘The Bear and the Maiden Fair’ – The Hold Steady

  1. Dana says:

    Well, as I have not become involved in the books or shows, I can’t comment from that perspective. As a song, it has a bit of an REM vibe with British overtones. Not bad, but also not something I feel compelled to hear again.

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