Buttkickin’ Holiday Songs: “White Winter Hymnal” — Fleet Foxes (2008)

FleetFoxes-WhiteWinterHymnal(Single)This is song of beauty and of timeless atmosphere.

Fleet Foxes’s celebrated 2008 song White Winter Hymnal has the rich, swirling atmospherics of memory, all detail twirling like wisps in the corners of our vision and trailing out of focus the moment we try to stare too intently. I picture cold winter mornings, gray skies with scant patches of sunlight bursting through, an attempt to overlay frosty precision onto the chaos of childhood recollection. And then it’s gone, but for a moment there it was. The heart remains bittersweet yet buoyant in its hopefulness. Like waking from a dream you can’t quite remember but from which you found great contentment.

There’s something really beautiful and tenderly evocative of this piece. The meaning of the lyrics eludes me, as it probably should. The feel of this song is rich and satisfying and strangely soothing.

I was following the pack all swallowed in their coats
With scarves of red tied ’round their throats
To keep their little heads
From falling 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…

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