Saturday, May 13, 2006

Dog and Butterfly

People don't have to know me for very long to realize how much I loooooooove music. Most of what I love to hear is the kind of stuff I'd hopefully hear in heaven someday (especially good sacred choral stuff). The more I have participated in music, the more I have learned to appreciate beautifully written stuff.

At the same time, however, I have some favorites that probably don't waft through celestial Muzack, but they feel great to listen to. My personal theory is that well-written music in general is good for the brain, so I like to treat it with both the inspired stuff and the fun stuff.

I am a super-huge fan of the girlie rock duo, Heart. Only the Longflicks will ever top them, I think. (Only die-hard readers of my blog might know who the Longflicks are!) When I'm in a "let-out-some-steam" mood, I love to listen to "Barracuda", and sometimes I just love how awesomely clean the drums are in "Crazy on You". But from my early junior high years I fell in love with their ballad, "Dog and Butterfly". I would listen to it on the radio often as I fell asleep at night. There was something soothing about the guitar and Ann Wilson's voice. I had NO idea what this song was about, but for some reason I liked it a lot.

Now, 28 years after the song was released, I have it on CD, and I listened to it a bunch of times today. I still couldn't get what the song was about, so I studied the lyrics and found an article online about it. It turns out that Ann Wilson was inspired to write the song after watching her dog chase a butterfly around the yard. Her sister, Nancy, was quoted as saying that, "As Ann watched her dog it struck her as symbolic as to how life can be. When you're an earthbound creature we're always jumping and reaching for things we can never really catch, but you try anyway. And that's the point of the song, we're always trying to grab at something higher."

There I was with the old man,
Stranded again so off I'd ran.
A young world crashing around me;
No possibilities of getting what I need.
He looked at me and smiled,
Said "No, no, no, no, no child.

See the dog and butterfly; up in the air he like to fly."
Dog and butterfly; below she had to try.
She roll back down to the warm soft ground, laughing
She don't know why, she don't know why
Dog and butterfly

Well I stumbled upon your secret place
Safe in the trees you had tears on your face
Wrestling with your desires;
Frozen strangers stealing your fires.
The message hit my mind
Only words that I could find:
See the dog and butterfly; up in the air he like to fly.
Dog and butterfly; below she had to try.
She roll back down to the warm soft ground
Laughing to the sky, up to the sky
Dog and butterfly

We're getting older, the world's getting colder.
For the life of me, I don't know the reason why.
Maybe it's livin' making us give in.
Hearts rolling in, taken back on the tide;
We're balanced together, ocean upon the sky.

Another night in this strange town
Moonlight holding me light as down
Voice of confusion inside of me
No begging to go back where I'm free
Feels like I'm through,
Then the old man's words are true:
See the dog and butterfly; up in the air he like to fly.
Dog and butterfly; below she had to try.
She roll back down to the warm soft ground
With a little tear in her eye.
She had to try, she had to try.
Dog and butterfly

So I guess whether its fighting cancer or following any other challenging dream, we just have to try. "Maybe it's livin' making us give in", but we can't give in or give up. We have to try. And maybe we might be as silly or stupid-looking as a dog jumping around and chasing a butterfly. (My beagle is so tenacious, he can be funny to watch when he is going after something.) And maybe after trying and trying we fall back down with a little tear in our eye. But we still have to try.

No wonder I like that song! I mean, it's not exactly Handel or Bach or Mozart or Brahms (my favorite composers), but it's a feel-good song with a feel-good message.


ridgechick said...

Happy Mother's Day Krista! I hope you are enjoying this day with your beautiful children and sweetheart!

Kate (lurker with love and prayers)

Selwyn said...

Oooh - any "favourite sacred choral" suggestions for those of us still looking for extras to add to our collection of MoTab?=)

Marnie said...

Rock on, girl.

Long may we flick!

Anonymous said...

O.K......I may not belong to the longflicks, this is true, but I could be your manager! I, like Krista, still rock out to Heart. My kids actually like the Best of Heart CD. "I hear the ticking of the clock...I'm lying here, the rooms pitch dark.."

Have a great day!



Anonymous said...

I've been trying to figure out the meaning of that song,too. It is very soothing to hear, but it was driving me crazy to understand it. I hate it when you really like a song and find out it means something nasty or wierd. Glad to hear that song is neither.


Anonymous said...

This is 2 years after the fact, but when I heard the lyrics to this song years ago, I didn't understand the meaning. However, as I listened to it recently (I bought a Heart "Greatest Hits" CD, I was reminded of the innocence of childhood and the laughter children will emit when doing something as simple and idealistic as chasing butterflies. That brought tears to my eyes. It's nice to know that good songs transcend time.

Anonymous said...

I recently lost a friend, Jennifer, at the young age of 38. She had been the recipient of a kidney transplant- two we got to have her for a little longer because of someone else loss and brave "life" donation. She loved her dog, Smokey and she loved butterflies. When we were at her Memorial, I remember it all came together that this was the most perfect song for her. I ordered the Heart cd as a gift for her Mom. I ever understood the meaning- but you have elegantly captured what I hoped the meaning would be. Tonight- still in wonder- I googled the meaning of lyrics to Dog and Butterfly...and up came your blog. So nice to meet you and have you share your meaning...your personal self. I will pray for you and i also send special thanks for reaching out- but reaching out, you are teaching many. Love Debi

Anonymous said...

Hi there.

The song "Dog and Butterfly" was one of my adolescent favorites as well. Over the years I often wondered what it was about and formed my own theories over the years as my life experience grew. (I'm male, by the way - that will color my interpretation of the song.) Today I again am thinking of the song for some reason and found your blog.

Someday I am planning to write a line-by-line analysis of the song. But before I do that, I'd like to ask you a question to see if my interpretation lines up with yours. Who or what are the frozen strangers in the second verse?

Anonymous said...

Someone I knew back in the day told me with certainty that it was about a girl getting high with her father. I tend not to believe it, but there's something about the song that does fit that kind of interpretation.