What does White Winter Hymnal mean?

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Fleet Foxes: White Winter Hymnal Meaning


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White Winter Hymnal Lyrics

I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the pack,
All swallowed in their coats
With scarves of red...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Mar 24th 2020 report

    I think that it’s about the artists mental deterioration. hear me out.
    So the artist, as a youth, was “following the pack” meaning he was doing okay, just following the crowd and going through life. the “scarves of red” representing sanity and normalcy. this is to “keep their heads from falling in the snow” meaning slipping into depression and/or breaking the normalcy in life. during this period of time the artists brother passed away. so, as if in an instant, almost like he turned around, his brother was no longer with him. this would correspond with “michael you would fall” and his death would lead to the singers head “dropping in the snow” meaning the red scarf of sanity and normalcy had been taken off because of the tragic loss. this would make the snow “red as strawberries in the summertime” because it represents a death of sanity and normal life because of the death of michael.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Apr 9th 2020 report

    I am certain it has something to do with the French revolution, as shown by the description of "All swallowed in their coats" referring to the puffy winter coats they wore, but I believe it was a specific time in the revolution. The invasion of Russia, it was the main battle fought by France in the snow. They also happened to have lost that war, this song could be the first person perspective of a soldier. "And I turn round and there you go and Micheal you would fall" these could be fellow soldiers around him dying, as Micheal turned the white as strawberries in the summertime, this was him being shot. France was well known in that era for having a great strawberry industry, which could explain the Frenchmans understanding and relationship with the colour. The invasion was a long trek which could refer to the man following the pack, as they marched to war. The Frenchmen were going through a time of stress, if anybody spoke up against the revolution, they were sent to the guillotine. This could explain the "with scarves of red wrapped round' their throats, to keep their little heads from falling in the snow" The intro also features repetition which could be all the soldiers singing together either before or after combat.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Jan 18th 2013 report

    The song is ripe with references to the french revolution.
    "Swallowed in their coats" refers to the style of puffy coat that was popularized during the revolution
    "Scarves of red" refers to the red scarves or hats worn to show loyalty to the revolution and those who didn't, especially nobility, were executed, hence the "keep their heads" and the "White snow as strawberries".

  4. anonymous
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    Dec 6th report

    i always thought it was something similar to the story The Green Ribbon or a fake on that. basically the story is about a girl who keeps a ribbon tied around her neck bc if she doesn’t her head will fall off and like yeah idk

  5. anonymous
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    Nov 26th report

    This is a lighthearted song about wolves running in winter snow.
    One wolf is narrating, he runs following the pack, they are swallowed in their winter coats of fur, there is red blood (scarves) around their necks from a recent hunt. They need to hunt and eat constantly in order to prevent starvation (heads falling in the snow.)

    Michael is a young, foolish wolf who likes to tumble in the snow, which he stains with the blood from his fur.

  6. Clarity2
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    Jan 4th 2021 report

    I see a bunch of children in a snowy landscape, all running after a pack of huskies with red scarves around their necks - the explanation that the scarves are to keep their little heads from falling in the snow seems to me like the child-narrator's interpretation of an adult's explanation of why/how the huskies are attached to the reins.
    The dogs are swaddled/swallowed in their furry coats. The children are running after them for the fun and exhilaration. The narrator child turns round and sees another child, Michael, trip or slip over in the snow and bleed into the whiteness. The words "there you go" suggest that the narrator knows Michael very well. The sweet description of the image of the blood as strawberries in the summertime is what makes this such an intriguing and effective song for me - such a contrast of sweet and painful, dark and bright, the past and the present, danger, caring and nostalgia - this is songwriting at its best.

  7. anonymous
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    Dec 16th 2020 report

    I honestly think the pack is like friends and they made snowmen and they put red scarfs on the snowmen and they named one snowman michal (idk if I spelled that right) and the snowman head fell off and the red scarf made the snow red. But I feel like there is death like involved in the song and I’m just trying to make it less gruesome in my mind idk. This just how I think of it.

  8. anonymous
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    Dec 8th 2020 report

    I definitely agree about the French revolution, but Micheal falling from heaven? That's just too much. I think the soldier was referring to a fellow comrade.

  9. anonymous
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    Nov 17th 2020 report

    I think it is about the french revolution, when it says "and micheal you would fall and turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summertime". Thats like micheal falling and bleeding.

  10. anonymous
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    Nov 10th 2020 report

    So, I've really enjoyed reading all of these. I have myself wondered about the lyrics meaning, but mostly I get more consumed on singing this song with my young daughters, and so I become side tracked. My oldest daughter(8) asked me yesterday what the song was about.(mind you not knowing anything about the french revolutionary war etc) I told her I am not sure. She explained to me what she thinks it's about. Her explanation was a group of people that were together, as in on their own trying to escape something. They were the red scarfs to literally keep their heads on. ( to keep your little head from falling in the snow) and someone gets distracted and off course the group is on, something temps them or they try to escape. And they would fall and die. But she couldnt say if the strawberry snow was from the scarf or if it was blood. ( and there you go, and michael you would fall) my youngest daughter (6 year old) explained it as a heard of animals( wrapped up in their coats) and ex pl plained it as the boy who cried wolf in a sense. The one who cried was gone and turned the white as strawberries in the summer time. I guess my whole point is my two small daughters annalise this song to what the majority are saying with out really knowing history or what the bible says, is just astonishing to me. They have their own analysis and to what to what I've read everyone has some kind of part In their theory. Its amazing.

  11. anonymous
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    Aug 25th 2020 report

    I don’t know anything about this band or this song. Somebody said it was about the singer’s brother. When I hear this song, that is what I feel. It reminds me of MY brother, still alive, and of being children in the winter time. It breaks my heart.

  12. anonymous
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    Jul 7th 2020 report

    I believe that the way it is said and the meaning behind it is that of a biblical one. I believe that the red scarfs are the way that the lord might mark the sinners of the world and micheal the archangel is described as fallen because he was sent to reap those that are marked, (the sinners) and also that the white snow turned red is, as described in the bible, the blood of the sinners which is said to be an extremely large amount.

  13. anonymous
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    Apr 22nd 2020 report

    Not necessarily an interpretation, but the lyrics “with scarves of red Ted around their throats to keep their heads from falling in the snow” makes me think of that children’s scary story about the girl with a green ribbon tied around her neck, and when she was about to die she told her husband to untie it...and her head fell off. :)

  14. anonymous
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    Apr 9th 2020 report

    It's crazy how this all brings us together to Express our opinions, I love reading through and typing my own theories,it really opens up my mind:)

  15. anonymous
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    Mar 6th 2020 report

    I recently went through the lyrics and found a deeper meaning. I was easy for me because I have seen this happen a lot recently with two of my friends. I think it´s a group of young children, all following each other throughout elementary school and being best friends until they get to middle or high school where they branch out and make new friends. The friends have been ¨dying¨ off and joining their own friend circles, and Micheal was somebody´s Best friend of sorts. Micheal ¨died¨, meaning he abandoned someone to follow the others until you broke off.

    The red scarfs could be the memories keeping friends barely together, until one breaks loose the memories and makes their own new ones.

    And the red blood (related to the red scarfs) could be the memories pouring out, reminding the others of your absence, and wishing you were there.

    So in a summary, my thoughts are the pack is a friend group, and Micheal ¨died¨ by making new friends, and red blood and red scarfs are related as memories, the scarfs keeping you together, and blood as the reminder of the ones you´ve lost.

  16. anonymous
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    Jan 29th 2020 report

    Fleet Foxes says it was about a time his friends ditched him in middle school.

  17. anonymous
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    Jan 5th 2020 report

    It was the main singers brother, Michael. I’m pretty sure he killed himself so when they say you turned the snow red like strawberries in the summer time it’s referring to Michael killing himself in the winter. It’s sad really

  18. anonymous
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    Jan 1st 2020 report

    I agree that it may be about the revolution though I always thought it was about hanging people.

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