The Witcher had a good first season, mostly. But it had an even better breakout song, in the form of “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher,” a ballad sung by Jaskier (who I still call Dandelion in my heart, adaptation be damned) that becomes something of a theme song for the humble, grumpy Geralt of Rivia.
Now, in an extensive oral history, Entertainment Weekly has spoken to the writers and musicians behind the show to explore how the song got written and composed. The writer, it turns out, was the writer for the episode in which it first appeared, the second episode of the season, entitled “Four Marks.” That means co-executive produer Jenny Klein is responsible for those words you can’t get out of your head months later.
“I definitely did not expect this — I’m a TV writer, a screenwriter, and I didn’t know that I would write lyrics into a script and go to bed a writer and wake up with a song that people were rapidly listening to!” Klein told EW.
The song, Klein explained, was written as a means of justifying why Geralt tolerated Jaskier’s presence. “I wanted him to earn his stripe sand possibly create a PR campaign for the Witcher because he doesn’t have a great rap,” she said. From there, showrunner Lauren Hissrich came to the natural conclusion that, oh, let’s have the bard sing. The song, then, became a sort of connective tissue used in the episode, bridging the gap between Geralt and Yennefer and creating a more fleshed out, compelling world.
As for the song’s subject, well, Klen started to feel bad for Geralt upon rereading the original Andrzej Sapkowski stories.
“Often the Witcher doesn’t get paid for his work. That sucks!” she said. “I was in my car and I was just feeling bad for Geralt not getting paid and that’s when I started to sing to myself, ‘Toss a coin to your Witcher.’ It was when I was driving and then I pulled over and fumbled with my voice memo to record the lines and then I rushed home instead of going to the errand I was supposed to be running.”
From there, the rest of the lyrics came fast. The music, though, was a bit more of an involved process.
“We wrote the music back in October 2018 and it was one of the first pieces of music we wrote for the show,” composer Sonya Belousova told EW. “We wanted to write several versions of the song that ranged from medieval and historically accurate to something very contemporary in order to find the right sound balance and the right tone for the show and for the character. We settled on this version and as soon as we wrote this one, we knew that was the one. When we wrote the song, I remember going to a yoga class and instead of being in savasana, I had it in my head.”
And that was that, mostly. The recording process was involved, including a whole host of instruments from around the world to represent the diverse melting pot of The Continent, and the final song recording was done while actor and vocalist Joey Batey was sick. But it came out fabulously, and became one of the catchiest songs in Geralt’s world, and in ours.
For more details on the song’s composition, the whole article is worth checking out. The Witcher returns for a second season next year.