To approach this song from a different viewpoint at this point is futile. Originally, my plan had been to maybe even finish up this process BEFORE 2009 which would have had me writing my gushing ode du Fleet Foxes at about the same time as all the other music media outlets that declared this one of their songs of the year. That having been said, I'm not sure if any of this is original or not. I might be flying off on a great tangent about this track, click post, and then five days later hear from Joe Satriani's attorneys claiming that in addition to writing the riff for Viva La Vida he was also the first to gush about Fleet Foxes. If that happens, so be it. Just know that I'm just a boy whose intentions are good... oh lord... please don't let me be misunderstood.
I've found that songs hit me on many different levels. Your run of the mill radio pop hits me physically. DJ Unk's "Walk it Out" actually does make me want to create some gutteral herky-jerky facsimile of what "walking it out" might look like. Beyond that, there are songs that hook me emotionally as well. Band of Horses' "kind of released in 2008 but not really enough to be included on this list" love song "No One's Gonna Love You" makes me FEEL that so into somebody that it makes you physically sick to even think about feeling. For me though, the true NEXT LEVEL songs are those that are sensory. Not only do they make you react and feel, but they TAKE you somewhere else. Great rap might makes me want to play ball, great metal makes me want to mount up my white steed and storm the Gates of Mordor, great indie rock can make me feel detached in that better living through chemistry kind of way....
And isn't that what great art SHOULD DO? I can enjoy shitty reality t.v. on a very basic physical level... simply put, it serves a physical purpose by satisfying my need for some kind of distraction. But man, when I watch The Wire, I'm IN Baltimore, and I KNOW Randy, Duquan, and Michael... I FEEL the Wire.
Thanks to my wonderful William and Mary education, I got a chance to develop a very basic attachment to some great artists via my Art History classes. One of those, Bruegel the Elder, is quite relevant to the discussion at hand because for those of you that aren't familiar with this album, it is his, "The Blue Cloak" that is featured on the gatefold cover. If pitchfork media suddenly dropped a newsflash on the indie rock world with proof that Bruegel had in fact risen from the dead and given "White Winter Hymnal" an 8.8 I would only be surprised at the fact that the dead were rising from the grave while yawning at the Flemish Master's love for the Twentysomething indiefolkers. "Why," you ask, "would Bruegel be interested in these guys, particularly this song?" Because, I dare say, they would inspire him... rather, they would make him FEEL. When I hear this song, I'm taken somewhere else by the absolutely incredible harmonies (referenced in the post on Your Protector), the minimal yet powerfully effective musical arrangements, and the non-traditional, almost poetic rejection of the verse chorus verse format of modern pop. When I hear the harmony, I can almost SEE the steam trailing each word as its delivered in some David the Gnome-esque taiga forestscape and despite the inherent nerdiness that making a David the Gnome reference implies, it feels very natural and apropos in this setting. This song is like a glimpse through the looking glass, inside the wardrobe, or along the tesseract in its ability to CREATE a temporary world for the listener. In the vain of Ring Around the Rosies it suggests a macabre nursery rhyme in its almost childish simplicity superimposed upon its violent lyrical overtones.
Simply put, I FEEL this song like none other released this year... and isn't that what good music is all about? Shouldn't that be the sole standard?
Readers' Note (I hope I'm still in plural territory): I plan on keeping this little blog project up and moving even though I've finished my list... probably the same format. Intermittent, mostly musical, lots of pop culture similes.... kind of like a Lil' Wayne mixtape.