If you haven't read the book "The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes" please know this article contains spoilers from the novel and the film.
In The Hunger Games novels, Katniss Everdeen adopts the song "The Hanging Tree" as an anthem of resistance. It is a song that becomes instrumental in the revolt against The Capitol, inspiring the districts to rise up and use their resources to fight. Even before we knew the story behind it, "The Hanging Tree" is also known for having such a powerful effect on President Coriolanus Snow.
While The Hunger Games novels do not give insight into where the song originated from, we get its backstory from "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes." In the prequel, we learn that Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) is the author of the song "The Hanging Tree," which ironically, she writes to convince Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) to run away with her to the Wilds, which is where Canada used to be.
This gives a whole new meaning to the song, especially granting context to the modern The Hunger Games novels. Given the fact that Lucy Gray Baird runs away from Coriolanus Snow at the end of "The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes," it makes sense that the song has such a profound impact on President Snow. Not to mention, the connection between the "Mockinjays" and the mention of "Katniss" in "The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes."
How did Katniss learn the song "The Hanging Tree?"
There are various theories surrounding the fate of Lucy Gray Baird, given that the ending of "The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes" leaves the ending open to interpretation. Personally, I don't think Lucy Gray's dead. I believe that she either escaped north as she intended, or returned and lived in hiding with the Covey in District 12. This would explain why Katniss would know the song. Other fans believe that Lucy Gray is a relative of Katniss on her dad's side, which would explain the reason why she knows it. In The Hunger Games novel, it is briefly mentioned that Katniss's dad has a talent to learn songs after hearing them just a few times, which now becomes a more important detail.
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