"Butterfly" as written by and Craig/mullen Young....
Yesterday I went outside
With my momma's mason jar
Caught a lovely Butterfly

When I woke up today
And looked in on my fairy pet
She had withered all away
No more sighing in her breast
I'm sorry for what I did
I did what my body told me to
I didn't mean to do you harm
But everytime I pin down what I think I want
It slips away - the ghost slips away

I smell you on my hand for days
I can't wash away your scent
If I'm a dog then you're a bitch

I guess you're as real as me
Maybe I can live with that
Maybe I need fantasy
A life of chasing Butterfly
I told you I would return
When the robin makes his nest
But I ain't never comin' back
I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry


Lyrics submitted by eddie7sf

"Butterfly" as written by Craig/mullen Young

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Butterfly song meanings
Add your thoughts

94 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +7
    General CommentThis song has very blatant references to Madama butterfly the opera by Puccini. "caught a lovely butterfly" probably refers to Pinkerton choosing to marry butterfly, a 15 year old geisha. He fell in love, or lust with her when he first saw her and paid so she could be his wife.
    "She had withered all away" and "i'm sorry for what i did" refer to when Pinkerton leaves butterfly soon after they consummate their marriage and does not return for 3 years. In this time Butterfly waits for him in complete devotion. She took their marriage very seriously whereas he was using her and careless about the commitment. The "i'm sorry for what i did" refers to when Pinkerton does finally return but with his new american wife. He sees how devoted Butterfly has been and realizes his cruelty. His ultimate remorse comes when Butterfly commits suicide when she realizes that he no longer loves her and is taking away her child with him.
    "Everytime i pin down what i want it slips away" also refers to a line in the opera where butterfly tells pinkerton that she heard that in america they pin butterflys to boards and it scares her.He replies that they only do this to hold onto the butterflys beauty.
    Finally, "I told you I would return, when the robin makes his nest, but i ain't never comin' back, i'm sorry , im sorry im sorry." Is the most direct reference to Madama Butterfly in the song. Before Pinkerton leaves, he tells butterfly that he will return when robins make their nest. She has hoped for that day for years but the time has come and gone. She even asks Sharpless(an american consul) if robins make their nest at a different time in america because she refuses to give up hope.
    In conclusion, I would say that this song has to do with taking advantage of something beautiful and pure. He uses her body for his pleasure and then leaves her to wither and die. He didn't realize how much she loved him and when he makes this realization it is too late. The harm has been done and he can only say he's sorry.
    emsko30on April 12, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General CommentSigh.

    This song is not remotely about rape or coerced sex. It's about a relationship where the girl is truly in love with the guy, and the guy really only wanted a physical relationship, but comes to feel bad about it afterwards. As is mentioned a million times throughout these comments, this song and most of the album Pinkerton contain references to Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly: the main character is named B.F. Pinkerton, and the leading female is Cio-Cio San (i.e. "listening to Cio-Cio San, fall in love all over again" from "El Scorcho").

    In Madame Butterfly, Pinkerton is a Naval officer stationed in Japan who is infatuated with Cio-Cio San (a.k.a. Butterfly) and marries her, claiming that "throughout the world, the Yankee wanderer is not satisfied until he captures the flowers of every shore and the love of every beautiful woman." Cio-Cio San truly falls in love with Pinkerton who, after marrying her and sleeping with her, has to leave her to continue his Naval expeditions, but promises to "return with the roses, when the earth is full of joy, when the robin makes his nest" (recognize that last line?) i.e. spring.

    Cio-Cio San has Pinkerton's child and waits 3 years for him to return, becoming impoverished but always hopeful that Pinkerton will return, despite being told that foreign husbands never return to their wives and only marry them to have someone to have sex with while they are in Japan. Cio-Cio San does not believe this until the American consul shows her a letter in which Pinkerton reveals that he assumes that Cio-Cio San would not even remember him, meaning his view of the relationship was extremely casual while hers was so intimate. She has Pinkerton informed by letter that she has his child, thinking he will return when he hears this news.

    Pinkerton does return, but he returns with his American wife to take his child, and though he feels extreme remorse and even affection towards Cio-Cio San, he does not love her in the way she loves him. She gives up her child to him and commits suicide at the end of the play while Pinkerton weeps her name.

    When Rivers saw this opera for the first time, he wept uncontrollably--presumably because he related very deeply to the story, although it is extremely sad and beautiful and I wept the first time I saw it even though I cannot relate to it in that way. This song is about sleeping with someone because you are infatuated with them ("I did what my body told me to") and hurting them very deeply when you leave them because they love you in a way you do not love them and you took advantage of that, perhaps even unintentionally.

    It's not about rape. Give it up.
    pieceustogetheron November 02, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Commentmy love for this song goes like this....
    you are the most innocent beautiful creature, so elegant that if you stay with me you'll be losing part of yourself to me. now that wouldn't be fair to you or me.

    don't let me hold you back, i need to let you go.
    i just did this with my girlfriend, who is/was my best friend. one year gone, but im better off alone
    SonnetSurferHBon September 21, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentQutie possibly one of the best weezer songs ever. he goes out to find a girl to love and the fates give him a chance, and he finds the most beautiful, perfect woman for him. he "does what his body tells him to" and try to keep the girl in his clutches, to hold on to her forever, but by doing this he "smothers" her and her spirit dies. this is definately one of their most heartfelt songs.
    silverstaron March 08, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song is based around the play/movie Madame Butterfly, which i believe some mentioned earlier. riveres wept uncontrollably when he watched it for the first time. its about a sailor that made false promises to a young girl young girl for sex. rivers sees this relating to himself. i suppose that he was over in japan once and slept with a young girl who loved him and mad promises to return and so on. he promised her that it wasn't a one night stand even though he knew that it was and he realized how much he hurt her. the butterfly in this song is that naive girl. "maybe you're as real as me" says that he is realizing that she has feelings too. he says that he would return but he isn't going to and he's sorry repeats at the end of the song.

    has to be rivers's best written song...
    weez0268on June 23, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI always thought this was where Pinkerton can full circle. In the first song he is tired of sex and can't find love. In Butterfly, he finally found his one true love, and he blows her off for the casual sex he was tired of in the beginning.
    khogon November 04, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAbsolutely beautiful song, whether its true or not, i think this song is an analogy of falling in love and like that it's gone. The magic of love can disapear at the drop of a dime and i guess he's attributing that to catching a butterfly and watching it die on him. I dunno i could be wrong its happened before.
    LiveUrLifeon September 06, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust like "Only in dreams" rounds off the blue album, this beautiful song ends pinkerton- a truely stroming record- off brilliantly. This songs brings a tear to my eye with just the lyrics, but in many other ways because Rivers is yet to strike such form again.

    Long live Pinkerton :(
    propheton October 16, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentone of my favorite weezer songs.

    weezer is plainly good music.
    awaitworthwhileon March 05, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentif you really listen to these lyrics... it seems like he forced himself on some girl... "I'm sorry for what I did, I did what my body told me to, I didn't mean to do you harm..." see? and then she called him a dog... anyway, i love WEEZER!
    JustChutUpon March 15, 2003   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain