Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Club: Game of Thrones by George R R Martin

In this feature I compile a soundtrack to a book I've just finished reading. The songs fit tone, characters, specific references, and any general things that may have popped up here or there. Or they might have just been playing in the background, who knows!

I hated this book at first. I was all "PFF, fantasy novels are for fucking nerds!" and then by page like, 600 two and a half weeks after starting the book, I was like "OH MY GOD THIS IS SO FUCKING AWESOME." At Yello Sub today, the woman who brought my sandwich asked what I was reading and showed her the cover and she said "Oh, a fantasy novel" and I was not ashamed. It was strange. Anyway, I don't think I'd recommend this to anyone. It's a time sink, a big one. Worth reading, but only for the awesome plot and the way more amazing than I would have expected characters. The prose makes me want to jump out of a window, a little bit, but it's a small price to pay for excellent swords and shit entertainment. The song stylings of Spencer Krug fit this book for me like a glove. Don't know why, they just do. Actually, I DO know why. It's because his last album as Sunset Rubdown was called Dragonslayer and there are references to dragons and dragonslaying in this book. THERE. Well, mostly it's because he sings with this sense of granduer that fits with the epic scope of Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, well, what I've read so far. So much tragedy and triumph, often overlapping. And then there's a couple of Destroyer songs at the end because, you know, Canada may as well be the northlands in my head.

Sunset Rubdown - “Dragon's Lair”

“Because to say the war is over is to say you are a widow/ You're not a widow yet.” Line after line of this song popped in and out of and through my head as I was reading A Game of Thrones. It captures all the grandeur, all the pomp and circumstance and shit that populates this book. “If you are sharpening your scissors, then I am sharpening my scissors/ And I'm sharpening my sword.” It just clicked. And then, you know, the references to dragons and dragonslayers, but that's not the given. The given is that this song is all about destruction. Destruction of people, destruction of ideas, destructions of mythologies. The kind of complex destructions that take place in this novel. And like the novel, in my head this song is about champions and saviors and heroes and villains and monsters and nasty men, and the two influence each other if only because they recall a similar gut feeling that gets tied to moral ambiguity. This is what was running through my head for the last few hundred pages and it really helped with the style of the prose, which I still felt was too “fantasyesque” for me to really get into (see: All the references to “glistening manhood,” “fingers in her sex,” etc). But really, most of my gripes with the prose are that for a story this good, it deserves the kind of writing that fucks you up. So I imagined it as this song as a coping mechanism and it seemed to work. Also, this music video fucking rules.

Sunset Rubdown - “Silver Moons”

Dragonslayer is a winter album. Though I only tend to listen to it in the winter, it's really the only time it feels right. It's bleak and beautiful, cold with this little fire in the center of it brought on by recording everything live in the studio. This song fit the first couple hundred pages of A Game of Thrones remarkably well for me. “Maybe these days are over, over now,” Spencer Krug sings. “Gone are the days bonfires make me think of you/ Looks like the prophecy came true.” It rings of myth and legend, the whole album does, from this the remarkable opener to the epic conclusion in “Dragon's Lair.” This is my song for the Starks, in their desolate but serene home at Winterfell before the shit hit the fan.

Sunset Rubdown - “The Mending of the Gown”

I always imagine this song as a stage play that goes horribly wrong and culminates with the curtain falling from the rafters and burying the cast alive. I see this song through the eyes of Jamie and Cersei Lannister, circa their little incestuous relationship being found out and the consequences that come with covering up, notably the whole taking over the throne and executing enemies to said throne bit.

Sunset Rubdown - “Up On Your Leopard, Upon the End of Your Feral Days”

“You're the one who ran in the wild a virgin to a name;
You're the one who lived off a forsaken land.
I'm the one who sat at your capture
And let the snow fall on this whispering rapture
You're the one who's kissing your captor's hands.”

“Your highness is holding your chains.”

For Sansa.

Wolf Parade - “Kissing the Beehive”

“As if you didn't know that it would sting/ Kissing the beehive/ And fucking up your finger from pushing on the ring.”

Wolf Parade - “Dinner Bells”

“There will be no more winter/ There will be no more spring and/ There will be no more dinner bells
left for you to ring”

Destroyer - “Bay of Pigs”

“I was born in the North, but my father's from the South.
Love is a political beast with jaws for a mouth. I don't care!”

Mostly just that line, but I listened to Destroyer's latest LP Kaputt throughout my reading of A Game of Thrones so maybe I fit the subject matter around the song. Lots of cryptic lines that meshed really well with all the intrigue.

“You were on the side of good/ I was inside of the sea's guts/ A crumbling beauty trapped in a river of ice/ A crumbling beauty trapped in Paradise/ Oh yes, it was Paradise!”

It's a cold, northern song on an album of bizarre disco-tinged sex jams all laced with jazz flute and 80s sax and I love it.

Destroyer - "Shooting Rockets (From the Desk of Night's Ape)"

Because, you know, epic fancy-languaged drama works.

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