Elusive Butterfly

Album: Don't Be Concerned (1966)
Charted: 5 5
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Songfacts®:

  • Bob Lind wrote this song, where he sees himself as a butterfly hunter. He is looking for romance, but he finds it as elusive as butterflies are to capture. It turned out to be the only hit for Lind, who did a lot of traveling as a kid and ended up playing folk music around Denver when he flunked out of Western State College. He wrote "Elusive Butterfly" as the sun was coming up after staying up all night. He says the song is about "The magic of the quest, the thrill of searching, even when that which is sought is hard to see."
  • After signing a deal with Metro Music, Sonny Bono was assigned to work with Lind, but got busy and passed him off to Jack Nitzsche, who was known for his work with The Rolling Stones. "Elusive Butterfly" was one of the first songs they recorded, and Nitzsche came up with an innovative string arrangement, making this one of the first folk-rock songs to feature a string section.
  • Los Angeles in the '60s was a great place to find talented session musicians, and some of the best appeared on this track, including Leon Russell on piano and Carol Kaye on bass. For Kaye, it was a very memorable session because a mistake she made turned into a signature sound. In a Songfacts interview with Kaye, she explained: "It was at Sunset Sound. It was kind of a boring tune. I think it was D-flat or something, and it stays a long time in that chord and then it moves in a funny way to the next chord, it's like a sidebar phrase or something like that. I missed it and I went to go up to the G-flat or whatever and I missed it and I came right back down. I did a slide up and down. And they stopped and I thought, 'Uh oh, he caught me.' He said, 'Do more of those!' (laughing) So the slide was born, then. I'd stick that slide in here and there on the records I cut."
  • This was originally the B-side in America of the 23-year-old Bob Lind's recording debut. The A-side was "Cheryl's Goin' Home," and when a DJ on the Florida station WQAM flipped the record and started playing "Elusive Butterfly," it kickstarted the song's success.
  • The Irish singer Val Doonican covered this in the UK. His version was released as the same time as Bob Lind's and it also reached #5, thus preventing the original from charting higher.
  • Bob Lind's debut album Don't Be Concerned borrows its title from a line in this song: "Don't be concerned, it will not harm you."
  • With this song, Bob Lind gave World Pacific Records its one and only big hit, however his solo career lost impetus as World Pacific's choices for follow-up singles squandered the momentum of "Elusive Butterfly," problems with drugs and alcohol only making matters worse. Lind continues performing and touring into the '00s and over 200 artists have covered his songs.

Comments: 17

  • Stevieboy from UkGreatest version of this song has to be
    The Four Tops Levi Stubbs beautiful voice makes it even more plaintiff.
  • Dee Giambattista from Dallas, Tx (suburb, Actually)Thank you Curt from Sarasota!! I knew Elusive Butterfly was either the sign-on or sign-off on WNEW right around 5pm if I recall correctly (and it could be hazy as I would have been quite young). My mom would make sure the station got changed over from WALK in time for dinner as she loved this song, she was cool like that.
  • Tammy Story from Knoxville,tnThe song sounds like to me a Spirit if a little horse or if a small child chasing after a butterfly and may have died chasing it and it's little spirit comes back to repeat the fun he or she had before they died because it could've been possible.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 27th, 1966 Bob Lind's "Elusive Butterfly" peaked at #5 {for 2 weeks} on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    And at one position lower at #6 was Irish singer Val Doonican's covered version of "Elusive Butterfly"...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FF0m-580B4
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 21st 1966, Bob Lind performed "Elusive Butterfly" on the NBC-TV program 'Hullabaloo!'...
    Two days earlier on February 19th he appeared on 'American Bandstand' (See the next post below).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 19th 1966, Bob Lind performed "Elusive Butterfly" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    One month earlier on January 16th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #83; and on March 6th it peaked at #5 (for 2 weeks) and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 5 of those 13 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    He had one other Top 100 record, "Remember the Rain", it reached #64 in 1966 (the record's B-side, "Truly Julie's Blues", also charted, it peaked at #65)...
    Mr. Lind, born Robert Neale Lind, celebrated his 71st birthday three months ago on November 25th (2013).
  • Matthew from Toronto, OnA woeful ode to love not realized. Bob Lind said in "Hit Parader" that he hates being depressed, but loves being sad. According to him, sadness triggers many feelings, but depression is the absence of feeling. No doubt, "Butterfly" is a sad song, but a beautiful one. The imagery in the lyrics suggests that he has been wasting his time, pursuing a relationship with someone not worthy of his efforts. Why else would he say, "Don't be concerned; it will not harm you; it's only me pursuing something I'm not sure of."
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaThe lyrics of this song were remarkable poetic. I'm really surprised that the talented writer did not have another hit. And it was the B side! Well, it says above that over 200 people have recorded his sonds, so maybe he's a better songwriter than recording artist. Nice strings, also. Really, a reamarkably good song!
  • Alan from Chesterfield, MiThe chords are C, Dm, G7 pretty much the whole song.
  • John from Va Beach, VaSounds like a song to a loved one left behind for the next world. In that state between conciousness and sleep you can almost hear and see signs of your loved one close by...but "don't be concerned..." To me, a very wistful song.
  • Curt from Sarasota, FlScott Muni of New York's famed WNEW (who died in 2004 at 74) used the song as a sign-off. Well-known song to his many listeners.
  • Timothy from Worcester, MaIt's one of my favorite songs from my childhood. Even today the words are so deep and poetic, and I love his voice. Kinda like Bobby Goldsboro, wouldn't you say?
  • Reed from New Ulm, MnLindsay----you can look online for the sheetmusic to it---i'm sure you'd be able to find it.
  • Daevid from Glendale, CaA great song from a truly memorable era in music.
  • Gary Phelps from Homewood, IlI would hear this song when my parents would turn on the radio in the morning to wake me for school.And at school I would pursue as the song describes.
  • Lindsay from Melbourne, AustraliaIs it possible to get a copy of the chords, so that I may learn to sing the song myself?
  • Lindsay from Melbourne, AustraliaSince the mid-sixties when I first heard Bob Lind's song 'Elusive Butterfly' I have been moved both by the lyrics & the very sensitive simple tune
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