What does White Winter Hymnal mean?

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Fleet Foxes: White Winter Hymnal Meaning

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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. 1TOP RATED

    Izzy
    click a star to vote
    Dec 5th, 2017 12:34pm report


    I’m almost 100% sure it’s about the French Revolution. If people did not wear red hats or scarves and they would be seen as,”Not supporting the revolution.” So then they would decapitated

    “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” part to me resembled. A team of French revolutionist; multiple people a repeating the same thing as they are all following each other.

    “All swallowed in their coats
    With scarves of red tied ‘round their throats to keep their little heads from falling in the snow”

    They had to wear coats because-well-it’s cold. And the scarves resemble the red scarves they had to wear, or else their little heads would get decapitated. (most likely young boys, that’s probably why it says little heads)

    “And I turned ‘round and there you go
    And Michael you would fall and turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summertime.”

    Maybe Michael tripped and his scarve fell off so while he was rushing to find it (so he wouldn’t get decapitated) he possibly accidentally buried it under the snow. Or he was tired of living a miserable life having to fight in the revolution so he took it off wanting the sweet release of death.

    If you listen to the instrumental you can hear drums.OH GOD I HAVE ANOTHER THEORY. Maybe Michael was a young drummer boy who is extremely tired from carrying and playing a heavy drum so he passed it but as he was falling the scarf fell off and he got decapitated because they though he took it off on purpose.(this next one is following my first theory) Maybe the drums resemble the drums that the drummer boys are playing at his funeral, if they even gave him a funeral that is.

    Apart from all the theories, I must say that this is a very catchy and brilliant song.



  2. 2TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    Jan 18th, 2013 1:30pm 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".



  3. 3TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    May 22nd, 2015 5:46pm report


    The song immediately made me think about the Russian Revolution. Those who wanted to survive wore the "strawberry red" scarves in of the revolutionary movement. Many who did not wear the scarves were assumed to be against the revolution and were beheaded. The revolution brought an end to the lives of the Czar and his family. One of the goals of the revolution was to bring an end to religion. The patron saint of the Czar's family was the Archangel Michael. The death of Michael could represent the end of the Czarist rulers and the religion.



  4.  

    anonymous
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    Sep 8th, 9:33pm report


    I looked up this song because it was needling me to not know what the song meant. Robin Pecknold wrote it about an experience he had when he was a child. Apparently, he was "ditched" by his buddies in middle school and that's what the whole song is about.

    Having said that, it does, in my opinion, sound more like a song dedicated to a single group of people that all do something the same way and if someone steps out of that "norm," they'll be ostracized, marginalized, or otherwise looked down upon.



  5.  

    anonymous
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    May 20th, 5:13am report


    I thought of birds (as a low rated commenter said earlier) and kids. Then I had to read the lyrics to find out what they were.

    Then I thought of a girl with her boyfriend who fell and turned the snow red with the scarf.

    Then I discovered that they're meaningless. Also, read somewhere about the loss of innocence. Kids belonging to a click doing normalkid things then getting into drugs. Like all the ideas here.



  6.  

    anonymous
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    Jan 2nd, 2019 1:11am report


    I agree with the French Revolution bit, but not the Michael part. Remember that Michael is an angel, and he was supposed to be a warrior of some sort. He was a saint to many (including many French) people, and in one battle he was defeated but resurrected by god. Apparently he “fell” to earth, as in “And Michael you would fall” as if he were to fall, or if people were to stop fighting, they, too, would fall.



  7.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 18th, 2018 12:33am report


    It is a catchy song jndeed but it gives you a gut feeling that it is of a dark nature. I believe that it is talking about those that had to wear red scarves to stay alive. But being that it is Christmas....your heart wants the song to be cheerful so I like to think that it is about snowman.



  8.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 11th, 2018 12:43pm report


    I think it's about parents following their childen. Michael, the slow one, slipped on ice and the blood colored the snow red. When they say they wore the scarves to keep their heads from falling in the snow, they mean that as a metaphor. They're just saying that it was so cold, that if they took their scarves off, they're heads would freeze off.



  9.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 25th, 2018 11:27pm report


    The first thing I thought this meant was that some kids were walking home from school in winter so they had coats and scarves. A boy named Michael was walking towards the back and when one of the kids turned around they saw that Micheal fell and got scraped and the blood got on the snow.
    The snowman idea made sense too,and so does the one about the French Revolution.



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 28th, 2017 12:24am report


    You all have various well thought interpretations
    I thought they were singing about little birds,
    swallows, with red breasts, and could not figure
    out how that kept their heads from falling in the
    snow. Revolutionary scarves makes more sense to me.



  11.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 25th, 2017 12:20pm report


    Actually I was wrong. The word really is swallowed. My bad! Sorry guys



  12.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 25th, 2017 12:04pm report


    A) the word is "swaddled", not "swallowed".
    B) can people please stop acting all superior and saying basically "ugh please! You're obviously wrong, it means what I think it does.." When an author writes something, the reader (or listener)'s belief is just as important as the author's. The knowledge we bring with our interpretation can be just as valuable as the author's intended meaning. The days of the author having 100% of the information relevant to their piece are gone. After all, Fleet Foxes literally said "it's lyrically meaningless."



  13.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 22nd, 2017 12:51am report


    I think it's about war, and the scarves of red represents the color of one side. During the war a young drummer boy (Michael) is shot, shown as the first blood causing the battle to begin and covering the snow in blood.



  14.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 20th, 2017 12:48pm report


    I always think of a father with his kids, and while he's following them, one of the kids (Michael) gets behind and falls gets a scratch, and the father tries to make Micheal feel better about it and says how the snow looks like strawberries in the summertime. And when he talks about the little scarves i always imagine the father putting it around his kids throats, to protect them from the cold. I think its about keeping your spirits up, even when something hurts you, and the song is really uplifting too. It's probably not what the writer thought about, but as someone said already the songwriter said its meaningless anyway...



  15.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 19th, 2017 12:38am report


    The band states that this song is pretty lyrically meaningless, and that it's a favorite to perform due to how vague it is. It's not about death :P but this is how I think of it:

    I always think of a Shepard boy following herd of sheep - but maybe even wolves, since they say "pack" - They are wearing red scarves, maybe so he can see them better. He's following them to keep their heads from falling in the snow, but Michael, a sheep or wolf or whatever, is a sweet clumsy creature and he falls in the snow :) the snow is red because of the scarf. That's all :)



  16.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 16th, 2017 12:19pm report


    I think it's a dark Christmas memory someone had, by either a kid or parent, of a group of kids who were bundled up in coats with red scarves going out in the snow as friends,having fun, and when either a parent or a friend of Michael looked behind them, Michael was gone because he fell down a hill,"then I turned round and there you go, and Michael you would fall". And when they found him at the bottom, he was injured and bleeding out, then died, coloring the snow red with his blood.



  17.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 16th, 2017 12:02pm report


    I think it's a dark Christmas memory someone had, by either a kid or parent, of a group of kids who were bundled up in coats with red scarves going out in the snow as friends,having fun, and when either a parent or a friend of Michael looked behind them, Michael was gone because he fell down a hill,"then I turned round and there you go". And when they found him at the bottom, he was injured and bleeding out, then died, coloring the snow red with his blood.



  18.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 15th, 2017 12:57pm report


    It's about suicide.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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