White Winter Hymnal

Album: Fleet Foxes (2008)


  • Lead singer and songwriter Robin Pecknold (from Daytrotter): "It's lyrically fairly meaningless. As an introduction to the record, (this was intended to be the opening track on the album), we thought it would be nice to start it with a simple jam that's focussed on singing - on the record it starts with a tongue-in-cheek harmony thing that we hoped would make people laugh or something but I think it just confuses them. This is my favorite song to play live, though singing it live is sometimes difficult because the lyrics are so vague. Weird how that works!"
  • The Seattle Times asked Pecknold how he and his bandmates created this song. He replied: "We never played it together. The performances that you hear recorded on that song were the first time those were done. So that one totally came together in recording."
  • The band's name is totally random. Pecknold told The Seattle Times: "When we named the band, we had no idea we would have to ever answer for the name. I like the alliteration."
  • Robin Pecknold told Mojo magazine January 2009 that he intended this gently uplifting song to be like "Whistle While You Work" from Snow White - something to hum along to as you do the dishes." Pecknold added that the words tell a more painful story about loss of innocence. He explained: "From first grade to high school I spent every day with the same bunch of kids. And it was weird to see how people I had known so long would change so quickly - suddenly they're drug dealers. I hated it. How did our friendships become less important than wearing a backwards baseball cap?"
  • The Fleet Foxes album was one of the most critically acclaimed releases of 2008. A number of publications and websites named it as the best album of the year, including The London Times, Pitchfork Media and Mojo magazine.
  • The artwork that adorns the album cover is a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569) called Netherlandish Proverbs. This humorous portrait of peasant life depicts around 100 literal renditions of Flemish proverbs of the day. Frontman Robin Pecknold explained to Mojo magazine August 2009 how the painting ended up on the front of the Fleet Foxes' debut album. "We were trying to figure out what we wanted to do, and my brother had been working out some stuff, when I saw that Bruegel painting in a book my girlfriend had. I liked that it had a really intriguing meaning, like there's a story to each little scene. Which I just felt fitting for that record- dense but unified, not a collage or anything. And I liked its Where's Waldo? quality, that it was something you could look at for a long time on a vinyl sleeve and find new little things.
    It was very easy to get the museum in Berlin that has it to say yes. They were super excited a band wanted to use it and put it in their newsletter. When you open it up on the inside there's a paisley pattern traced from the back of a book that Skye (Skjelset, lead guitar)'s mum got me. We wanted two very different feelings."
  • The song was covered by the a cappella group Pentatonix for their 2014 album That's Christmas to Me.

Comments: 4

  • Amy from IllinoisThis song has so much meaning! The red scarf is a symbol for the blood of the martyr, "Michael" a Hebrew name means "who's is like God" or "gift from God" St. Michael was the conqueror of Satan and patron saint of soldiers. The strawberries the good fruits of a righteous person even pagan tradition pairs the strawberry with Venus the goddess of love. So out of Love the Martyr dies, the one like God.
    This song is full of deep meaning!!
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesI just discovered this, and the band, thanks to Hard Rock Calling. How lovely!
  • Rahul from Chennai, Indiathis song is pretty cool..... nice and soothing...... it's indie... one of my fav genres...
  • Adrienne from Caldwell, NjI can listen to this song over and over again. Its play count on my iTunes is like, 50 something.
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