If you’ve been watching Game of Thrones, you were most likely pleasantly surprised by last night’s smash-cut to the end credits (emphasis on cut), when a rousing, punky, thoroughly electric rendition of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” crashed out of your television like Gregor Clegane getting thrown out of a tavern after one too many flagons of mead. The track came courtesy of beloved Brooklyn outfit the Hold Steady, a band whose own boozy, lyrically dense storytelling style and indie-bar-rock sound perfectly suit George R.R. Martin’s silly folk song of a hairy bear saving a maiden who was hoping for a knight.
The song itself is a great sing-along foot stomper, and the track’s unexpected placement capping a shocking moment in a particularly excellent episode has been getting nods of approval from fans and critics alike. The AV Club’s Todd VanDerWerff tweeted that it was “the greatest cut to credits IN AMERICAN HISTORY.” Yeah, that sounds about right.
Game of Thrones has broken out of its old-timey-sounding strings-and-war-drums score before, enlisting the National to record an appropriately somber take on the George R.R. Martin song “The Rains of Castamere” for Season 2. But this is the first time GoT went electric. And they picked the right guys for the job: Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn may very well identify with that bear, stumbling through a fancy party where he’s pretty sure he doesn’t belong.
The song will be available on a special 7-inch release for Record Store Day, April 20.