"White Winter Hymnal" as written by and Robin Pecknold....
I was following
I was following
I was following

[Repeat x3]
I was following the pack
All swallowed in their coats
With scarves of red tied 'round their throats
To keep their little heads
From fallin' in the snow
And I turned 'round and there you go
And, Michael, you would fall
And turn the white snow red as strawberries
In the summertime

Lyrics submitted by brasky09

"White Winter Hymnal" as written by Robin Pecknold

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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White Winter Hymnal song meanings
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  • +18
    General CommentI think of this song as a little frame of a childhood memory - maybe of a five or six year old. He is with a bunch of children, maybe running after the older kids, who just look like a bunch of coats since they are so bundled up. He thinks in his child's mind that the scarves keep their heads from falling off. Then he looks behind him and his friend has fallen and hurt himself and there is bright red blood in the snow. Sometimes a memory like that sticks with you even though you can't remember anything else about it.
    songyoneon July 10, 2008   Link
  • +7
    General CommentI can't quite figure out what this song means, and it's been bothering me. From what I gather it's somehow about the death of innocence or at least death of some kind.

    "The pack" sound like children from the fact that they were "swallowed in their coats" and "little heads", although "swallowed" sounds quite sinister, as if their clothes were eating them, as does "tied round their throats". This makes me think of a noose more than a scarf. The noose idea is supported by the fact that if it weren't for these, their heads would fall in the snow. Although I guess then the scarves could be somehow keeping them alive.

    I'm not sure what the next couple of lines refer to, but the image of Michael falling then turning "white snow red" says to me he's bleeding on the ground. What surprises me there is the image of "strawberries in the summertime", which casts a positive image onto Michael's bleeding.

    Any thoughts on this?
    Anariseon June 07, 2008   Link
  • +5
    General Commentpecknold says in an interview with daytrotter that the lyrics to this song are "fairly meaningless", and that the song is more focused on the vocal harmonies instead of the lyrics...but this is so far my favorite song from a stellar album. i've listened to it twice a day since i bought it

    sun_gianton June 14, 2008   Link
  • +5
    General CommentIt reminds me of the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It's apostapocalypse story of a father and son trying to survive and stay clear of the men who march around wearing little red scarves around their necks - trying to find survivors whom they can eat.

    The father coughs up blood throughout the book and the child is wrapped in any scraps of clothing they can find - sometimes drowing himself out in layers.

    The only colour the boy can really see is the red of his dad's blood as everything else is covered in grey ash from the blazing earth, and the white of the snow as ifalls. However, the boy was born after the apocalypse so doesn't know what summertimer or even strawberries are.

    Can be very poetic if you let it be.
    sleeperesqueon July 04, 2008   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI'm pretty sure there is no real mean. It sounds like this song was down with a fancy bit of automatic writing. Very Beautiful
    Rahmidon August 25, 2008   Link
  • +3
    Song MeaningGreat speculations! Unfortunately, this beautiful song actually has a rather sad connotation. Here is what I believe the real meaning of the song is.

    During the French Revolution, mobs of revolutionists beheaded those (such as royalty -- I'm sure you've heard of Marie Antoinette) who were against the revolution. Revolutionists would gather around the guillotines in "packs" to watch the beheadings. The fashion then was to wear high-collared coats, which may have appeared to "swallow" the individual. Also, I found a painting depicting a beheading scene in the French Revolution. The revolutionists in the illustration wore red scarves around their necks, perhaps to symbolize their loyalty to the revolution. Perhaps "Michael" didn't wear a red scarf or did not support the revolution, and thus he was quickly beheaded at the guillotine.

    "I was following the pack all swallowed in their coats" -- someone was following the revolutionists on their way to the guillotine to behead those who opposed the movement. Perhaps this person was for the revolution and was a friend of Michael, or he too was on his way to the guillotine.

    "With scarves of red tied 'round their throats" -- the revolutionists wore red scarves to symbolize their loyalty.

    "To keep their little heads from falling in the snow" -- in order to keep from being beheaded, they wore the red scarves to show others that they were for the revolution.

    "And I turned 'round and there you'd go, and Michael you would fall, and turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summertime." -- Michael did not wear a scarf or did not support the revolution, and thus he was quickly beheaded.

    Hope this helps :)
    ArtifexReelon June 29, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOh man, the way it builds up.. wonderful
    leahperon April 29, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt just came to me that a few Fleet Foxes songs seem to be written to a brother - Mykonos, He Doesn't Know Why - maybe this is about his brother. It would make an impression on a child if his brother, especially an older brother, was bleeding bright red in the snow.
    songyoneon July 10, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song reminds me of the book "Where the red fern grows."
    Chamoseson July 15, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis always reminds me of the royal family trying to escape russia during the communist revolution.
    Seanzy333on July 16, 2008   Link

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