Ed Sheeran Didn’t Ruin Anything. Game of Thrones is Rooted in Popular Music

Game of Thrones is Not Sacred. It’s Grateful Dead Fan Fiction

The first episode of the seventh season of HBO’s Game of Thrones sparked a multitude of reactions, but perhaps none more virulent and hysterical than how certain GOT fans responded when Ed Sheeran appeared onscreen. The response was so rabid that some speculated Sheeran had deleted his Twitter account in response to the hatred (Sheeran has since denied it, stating “Why the hell would I worry what people thought about that. It’s clearly fuckin’ awesome.”)

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This was Sheeran, if you (like me) didn’t recognize him at first.

I made my opinion very clear, via a tweet declaring:

Worth noting that this has been my most popular tweet, aside from one about Burger King one time.

Now, regardless of why Sheeran temporarily deleted his account, it does not change the fact that some Game of Thrones fans really, really hated seeing him on the screen. A top post in the /r/GameofThrones subreddit declared that his cameo had “ruined the Realism (sic).” Others mocked him with YouTube videos, angry tweets, and scornful recaps. Among the responses I received – in response to my “Ed Sheeran isn’t the problem” tweet were people telling me that they “hate him” and that cameos by Beyonce and John Legend would be next.

There are a few good points about why the Ed Sheeran cameo is nothing to be upset about, but I’ve already seen all but one of them already effectively made. These arguments include:

  • Sheeran is recognizable, yes, but aren’t many of the other actors in the show also recognizable? 
  • Sheeran was cast as a singer with a beautiful voice. Doesn’t it make sense to have a singer with a beautiful voice play a singer with a beautiful voice?
  • Why are all of you putting so much energy into hating a complete stranger?

But none of these are the articles I’ve come to write.

Instead, what I’d like you to consider is this: sure, Ed Sheeran is a pop musician playing a bit part in your favorite show. But doesn’t this make perfect sense, when one considers that the entirety of Game of Thrones – and the series of books upon which it is based, A Song of Ice and Fire – is an extended homage to a very popular band? Continue reading “Ed Sheeran Didn’t Ruin Anything. Game of Thrones is Rooted in Popular Music”

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Is There a Connection Between Bran Stark and “Uncle John’s Band”?

In a previous blog post, I investigated the possibility that George R.R. Martin took inspiration for Arya Stark’s storyline from the song “Dire Wolf,” by the Grateful Dead. I’m far from the first person to make connections between Martin’s words and the Dead’s lyrics, as this has been a topic of speculation and deduction for years.

But there is one song that I have never seen discussed, despite it having some very Westerosi imagery: “Uncle John’s Band,” the first track on the 1970 album Workingman’s Dead. 

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Now, unlike my theory that Arya’s story is directly lifted from the song “Dire Wolf,” this theory is slightly more half-baked, but not for lack of trying. “Uncle John’s Band” is a beautiful, lyrical song, simple in sound but complex with metaphor and references. As described by David Dodd in the “Greatest Stories Ever Told” series on dead.net, the song “carries within it enough room to consider the universe and our lives in the universe — it seems to be a universe itself.” Continue reading “Is There a Connection Between Bran Stark and “Uncle John’s Band”?”

Did a Grateful Dead Song Inspire Arya Stark and Her Story?

It’s no secret that the Grateful Dead’s music has influenced George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. He first acknowledged it during a 2014 interview with 927 Plus, including directly admitting that the spiritual Weirwoods in the world of Westeros are named after Bobby Weir.

A number of listicles, various reddit threads, and blog posts have been written about connections between Martin’s books and the Dead’s songs, including the Weirwoods, The Mountains of the Moon, and Gerold “Darkstar” Dayne.

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It’s not hard to believe this guy is a Grateful Dead fan.

And of course, the wolf. Yes, the Grateful Dead has a song called “Dire Wolf,” the same beast that serves as the Stark sigil. We know that connection. But is this where the connection ends? Or is there something more linking the Grateful Dead song and the Starks of Winterfell?

“Please Don’t Murder Me”

Listening to the song “Dire Wolf” while contemplating the Stark family, the lyrics initially don’t seem very relevant to Ned Stark and his offspring. While the setting seems Winterfell-esque—the winter was so hard and cold, froze ten feet neath the ground—it’s hard to view the Starks as resembling the wolves of the song, as the song consists of the narrator repeatedly pleading “don’t murder me” to the dire wolf.

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“Dire Wolf” is the third song on this album.

Murder is not a crime committed by the honorable Starks. They execute. They kill in war. But they do not murder. Ned, Robb, and Jon Snow each execute criminals and kill enemies in battle.  Rickon, Bran, and Sansa never kill at all (at least, not yet).

And then there is Arya.

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Arya Stark, as portrayed by Maisie Williams in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Continue reading “Did a Grateful Dead Song Inspire Arya Stark and Her Story?”