Butterfly

Album: Butterfly (1997)
Charted: 22
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • "Butterfly" is a song Mariah wrote, not about someone else but about herself. It is the song that she stated she wished Tommy Mottola (her recently divorced husband at the time) would sing to her. At the time she thought that they would get back together but later decided they never could. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kara - Lancaster, PA
  • Carey originally intended this to be a House record with dance producer David Morales titled "Fly Away (Butterfly Reprise)."
  • "Butterfly" was not released as a commercial single in the US. In the UK it was Mariah's first release not to reach the UK Top 20 in over 5 years.
  • In her 2020 memoir, The Meaning Of Mariah Carey, the singer recalled the moment the song first came to her. She was sitting in the master bathroom of her mansion trying to calm down after a threatening incident with her husband. Mottola had just tried to put her in her place in front of their guests by dragging a butter knife down her cheek (an act that inspired the song "Petals"). She wondered if she had the courage to leave for good when the lyrical idea popped into her head, confirming her decision: "Don't be afraid to fly. Spread your wings. Open up the door." She also started humming the melody as she was preparing to go.
  • Mariah performed this on the November 15, 1997 episode of Saturday Night Live.
  • The music video, shot in Savannah, Georgia, was partly inspired by the Tennessee Williams play Baby Doll, which details the dysfunctional marriage between a middle-aged man and a 19-year-old girl. The girl, nicknamed Baby Doll, sleeps in a crib and is spied on by her husband through a hole in the wall. Mariah recreates the scene in the video, where she lies on a crib-like daybed in the bedroom of a dilapidated house. At the beginning of the clip, a man leaves her home alone on a property surrounded by a barbed-wire fence. Her only source of comfort is a wild horse, which she realizes she needs to set free. In the end, they help each other escape. Mariah, who co-directed the video with Daniel Pearl, told Entertainment Weekly: "It's about finding the strength to let something go."
  • Butterfly, Carey's sixth studio album, debuted at #1 in the US - her fourth release to top the tally. She wouldn't land another chart-topping album until 2005 with The Emancipation Of Mimi.
  • This was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 1998 Grammy Awards but lost to Sarah McLachlan's "Building A Mystery."

Comments: 2

  • Gunnernkosa from Kampala, UgandaGreat song this!! Mariah is in my opinion, one of the greatest female vocalists of all time (if not the greatest), and only the likes of Aretha can compare. She has a vocal range wide enough to cover all the octaves between an alto and a soprano, and she has the ability to sing in the whistle register. I don't know of any other person with such vocal ability.
    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariah_Carey#Voice
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnHer last great ballad. About her ex-husband.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Barney Hoskyns Explores The Forgotten History Of Woodstock, New York

Barney Hoskyns Explores The Forgotten History Of Woodstock, New YorkSong Writing

Our chat with Barney Hoskyns, who covers the wild years of Woodstock - the town, not the festival - in his book Small Town Talk.

Grammar In Lyrics

Grammar In LyricsMusic Quiz

Lyrics don't always follow the rules of grammar. Can you spot the ones that don't?

David Paich of Toto

David Paich of TotoSongwriter Interviews

Toto's keyboard player explains the true meaning of "Africa" and talks about working on the Thriller album.

Def Leppard Quiz

Def Leppard QuizMusic Quiz

Can you name Def Leppard's only #1 hit in America? Get rocked with this adrenalized quiz.

Charlie Daniels

Charlie DanielsSongwriter Interviews

Charlie discusses the songs that made him a Southern Rock icon, and settles the Devil vs. Johnny argument once and for all.

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & PalmerSongwriter Interviews

Greg talks about writing songs of "universal truth" for King Crimson and ELP, and tells us about his most memorable stage moment (it involves fireworks).