As the month moves on, I’m sure there are some among us which have ‘peaked too early’ into the Christmas season. Those of us who love the season so wholeheartedly, we jump straight in on December 1st, but by the 21st can find themselves a little but overwhelmed. If you don’t want to be sick of the sound of jingle bells and the sight of a mince pie by Christmas day, now might be the time to back off a little. To help, I offer you a few of my favourite seasonal songs – and I mean that. Songs about winter, but not about Christmas.
The first that springs to mind is Fleet Foxes’ ‘White Winter Hymnal’. With abstract but slightly unnerving nonsensical lyrics, it embodies the crisp choral tones of the season. It talks in rich prose, unrhyming, that conjures such vivid images in the mind. ‘I was following the pack all smothered in their coats, with scarves of red tied round their throats’. It truly is a hymn – it has that same tonality, brought into the 21st Century. The song made number two on Pitchfork’s Best 100 Songs of the Decade, with good reason.
Similar, but sufficiently different to be placed alongside, is Laura Marling’s beautiful ‘Goodbye England (All Covered In Snow)‘. In my opinion it definitely drew a pinch of inspiration from ‘White Winter Hymnal’, since there are a few lyrics that come across affectionally close – the opening lyric particularly so. ‘You were so smart in your jacket and coat, my softest red scarf was warming your throat’. But from this opening, the track pulls off to be a gentle, almost melancholy lament. It is a wistful love song to home, the wish to return year after year, and it emphasises those emotions of longing for tradition and stability that permeate the holiday season, even when it is not spoken by name.
Art by MelodicArt.