Music plays an important role in The Hunger Games trilogy, which is especially shown through the third book, Mockingjay. Collins writes in the final book "we may have been the smallest district in Panem, but we know how to dance," referring to the people of District 12. "The Hanging Tree" is a song that is reference several times throughout the trilogy and has a deeper meaning that may be portrayed as a rally for rebellion.
"The Hanging Tree" is a song that Katniss' father used to sing to her when she was a little girl, which was eventually banned by her mother because it was not a pleasant song. The song is a major symbol in the books due to its underlying meaning. It is about a murderer who is singing to his lover to come back to the tree where he was hung. As the song goes on, one may realize the deeper meaning in a few of the specific lines. Each verse starts off with the lyrics "Are you, are you coming to the tree," which I interpreted as the singer telling the audience to return to the state of mind in which being free was acceptable and necessary.
The third line contains different lyrics for each verse, which may be used together to form the overall meaning and tone of the song. In the first verse the singer uses "where they strung up a man they say murdered three." The listeners do not know exactly what happened with the man or if he actually murder three people because the singer states it as if he had just been accused of murder. "Where the dead man called out for his love to flee" is the third line of the second verse and seems as if the murder is trying to protect his lover by telling her to run away. The audience realizes that the dead man is behind the narration of the song when he states "where I told you to run so we'd both be free." Clearly he is trying to run from something/someone in hopes of a better life for him and his lover. Finally, in the fourth verse the singer sings "wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me." This line really brings the meaning of the song together because the singer is now asking his loved one to take action with himself. They must have already been to the tree before and maybe participated in a rebellion against the unfair government.
"Strange things did happen here" is the fourth line of each verse and suggests that the dead man may actually have been innocent and that the violence and little respect that people have for each other is "strange." The line that ends each verse is "no stranger would it be, if we met at midnight in the hanging tree." When the singer says "in the hanging tree" he refers to the fact that it is necessary for people to sacrifice themselves for the greater good and ultimately fight for freedom and a better life.
It is easy to believe that this song is meant to rally a rebellion, especially because Katniss mentions that she is not able to sing the song aloud due to its meaning; the song is considered forbidden by the government of Panem. Her mother even tells the girls' father to completely stop singing the song in an attempt to protects her family. Overall, I believe that the signer is trying to get the people of the Districts together and help them realize that they should be free people and the treatment that they receive is cruel and unfair.