Song Stories

“White Winter Hymnal”

Fleet Foxes | 2008

Fleet Foxes songwriter Robin Pecknold revealed to Rolling Stone that his songs are "written from personal experience,” including “Hymnal,” which was about a time when his friends ditched him in middle school. The lyrics might have been about childhood past, but the melody came from a familiar source — namely, Walt Disney. “The idea was a song like “Whistle While You Work,” from Snow White, you know?” Pecknold said. “So it started with that very beginning thing, the first kind of like, melody. And then once the verse was done, it just seemed like it lent itself to the repetition, you know?”

Song Stories Main Next

Song Stories


The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

More Song Stories entries »