Florence and the Machine closed the second episode of the final season of Game of Thrones with an ominous take on the tragic Westeros ballad, “Jenny of Oldstones.” Florence and the Machine’s version of the song played over the end credits, though the track also appeared in the episode when Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman) sang a snippet as he and several other major characters sat around a fire at Winterfell.
Florence and the Machine’s version boasts a simple piano arrangement that’s fleshed out with eerie, atmospheric synths. The songs lyrics — based on lines from George R.R. Martin’s books and finished by GoT show runners D.B. Weiss and Dan Benioff — tell the story of a woman, Jenny, who locks herself inside her castle with the ghosts of her past and refuses to leave. Frontwoman Florence Welch captures the mix of woe and distorted serenity of Jenny’s story as she sings, “High in the halls of the kings who are gone/Jenny would dance with her ghosts/The ones she had lost and the ones she had found/And the ones/Who had loved her the most.”
Weiss and Benioff had previously approached Florence and the Machine to perform “The Rains of Castamere” for a Season Two episode, though she declined at the time (it was eventually recorded by the National and Sigur Rós). In an interview with The New York Times, Welch noted that she missed the first two seasons of Game of Thrones, but quickly caught up once she discovered the show. She also spoke about recording “Jenny of Oldstones,” saying that Weiss and Benioff gave her no direction, nor any backstory about the song, which is the subject of several fan theories.
“What I wanted to do with this song was keep it as sparse as possible,” she said. “It does get a bit more rousing at the end, but I really wanted to retain the simplicity of the melody and the lyrics that they sent me, because I found them so moving. If I had known the history of the song, I would have been like, “[Expletive], we need fanfares, and you’re going to have to get a dragon on here somehow.” I might have — as I can do sometimes — overblown it. So I’m glad I didn’t know then, but I’m glad to know now. You want the beauty and the fragility in there as well. I would have made it too big, if I had known just how [expletive] big it is!”