Hear Jennifer Lawrence’s Haunting ‘Hunger Games’ Ballad
Katniss Everdeen’s sorrowful song, “The Hanging Tree,” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1, is now streaming online. Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Everdeen in the movies, sang the tune, which composer James Newton arranged with the Lumineers, according to Huffington Post. The track at first features Lawrence’s voice singing the haunting melody a cappella until orchestral strings and a chorus of equally morose souls sing it along with her. It will be included on the score album for the movie (not Lorde‘s pop-song soundtrack), due out November 24th.
Within the plot of the film, Everdeen learned the song from her father at a young age and sang it until her mother banned it, having seen Katniss make necklaces out of rope with her sister, Prim, while singing it. The tune’s dark lyrics take on a new meaning to Katniss later in her life, when the Capitol’s punishment weighs heavily on her.
“The idea for the song came from the book…[author] Suzanne Collins wrote the lyrics and the idea was that it was an old Appalachian folk song that her father had taught her,” the movie’s director, Francis Lawrence, told AOL. “So I knew we needed a melody like that. And the Lumineers had written a really beautiful song for the Catching Fire soundtrack, and I thought they could probably tackle something like that if they were interested. So I called them up…and the next day they sent me a recording of somebody whistling the tune and also a woman singing it. And it was perfect.”
The director sent the actress to a vocal coach – “She can actually sing in key” – to help build her confidence, so she could record the song live. “She feels very vulnerable about singing, and she knew she was going to have to sing all day,” he said. “Jen was not happy that she had to sing it all day long, and she cried a little bit in the morning.”
As HuffPost reports, Lawrence recently joked that she sounds like “a deer that has been caught in a fence,” during her cameo in Woody Harrelson’s Saturday Night Live monologue.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 opened today.