Bullet With Butterfly Wings

Album: Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (1995)
Charted: 20 22

Songfacts®:

  • Lead singer Billy Corgan wrote this about pain that comes from being a rock star. The lyrics are exceptionally dramatic, and Corgan has said they are a bit of a joke.
  • This was the first single off Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness and Smashing Pumpkins' second biggest US hit - "1979" hit #12.
  • This won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance. The next year, they won the same award for "The End Is The Beginning Is The End."
  • In the video, Corgan still has hair. However, when it was released, he had cut all of his hair off. Ever since, Billy has been bald. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    SJ - skalj, Denmark, for above 3
  • Possibly shedding some light on what to read into the lyrics, Corgan once said: "If people were interested in my own personal story and they knew every thing that had happened too me in my childhood, I think they would look at me differently because I was raised in a family that set me up to fail." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    sid - waynesvile, NC
  • "The weird nihilism that permeates Mellon Collie is extremely relevant to what's going on right now. So many kids are intelligent and articulate, but they don't know what to do with themselves," Corgan said of the album. He's saying that the anger and feeling of having no one to trust is a reflection of youth in particular and society in general. He also once said this song was a strong personal representation of how he felt at the time, particularly with his growing fame - "the world is a vampire" basically means he feels like everyone wants to latch on and take something from him. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Diana - Buffalo, NY
  • The video shows a large group of dirty diamond miners working as the band plays. They gradually descend to the pit where Smashing Pumpkins are playing, forming a mosh pit of sorts.

    Billy Corgan worked on the video with Samuel Bayer, whose striking imagery is on display in the videos for The Cranberries' "Zombie" and Blind Melon's "No Rain." Bayer came up with the concept, which is based on photos Sebastiao Salgado took of Brazilian laborers.
  • Karen O covered this for the Amazon series Hanna in 2019; Smashing Pumpkins called it a "beautiful cover" in a tweet. She also contributed an original song, "Anti-Lullaby," to the soundtrack.
  • Billy Corgan wrote the song's chorus the same day that the band recorded their cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" at the BBC. He recalled to Kerrang:

    "I was sitting there bored out of my mind (the producers) were dicking around with some microphone, and I had this line in my head, 'Despite all my rage. I'm still just a rat in a cage.' I was just sitting there, bored, and I picked up the guitar and I started singing. But what if the guy had been like, 'Ooh we're ready!'? People don't appreciate that there's a thing that needs to happen. The stars need to align."

Comments: 42

  • Kurt from Worldi was too young to understand this song. hated it for years. i was always like this guy is so depressed. then i grew up and had my notions of the world shattered. I love the song and its cathartic when I feel sad. However, my inner child still says dont confuse deep for depressed. the world is sucks in a lot of ways. we have to learn to accept that. be less idealistic and get onto something good and worthwhile but not grandiose.
  • Maiko from Brazil"The world is a vampire, sent to drain... our energy and lifetime". Until we put and end in these f--king bankers, corporations and governments to free the human kind.
  • Paul from ClevelandThe 2nd Verse now reminds me of Stevie Nicks when she and her lover Lindsey Buckingham posed for their album "Buckingham-Nicks" (Now I'm naked, nothing but an animal
    But can you fake it, for just one more show?
    And what do you want? I want to change
    And what have you got?
    When you feel the same)
    ...and Stevie Nicks hated the cover because Lindsey Buckingham insisted she'd be nude like he was on the cover...and Nicks even said "I thought, 'Who are you? Don't you know me?' . . . I couldn't breathe. But I did it because I felt like a rat in a trap."

    The Chorus even says that...and Billy Corgan covered a Stevie Nicks song "Landslide". Hmm...
  • Robin from Mountreux, Switzerland"About pain that comes from being a rock star" Wow... I was strongly convinced this song talked about how powerless we are about the injustices of the government and society...
  • Phil from Neenah, WiI notice a big deal of influence from the Rolling Stones in the sound of this song. I don't know how much influence the Stones had with the Smashing Pumpkins sound as a whole, but there's definitely a Stones sound with this track within the guitar and as well with the vocals sounding much like Jagger's workings.
  • Debo from Ibadan, NigeriaMoody and introspective, yet with enough angst. Corgan's no rat in a cage, he's an effing genius.
  • Mike from Toronto, OnThis song was used to promote the video game 'Dead Space 2' by EA and Visceral Games. It was used as the soundtrack for Dead Space 2's Launch/Smashing Pumpkins trailer.
  • Carine from Middle Village, NyDespite all my rage I'm still just a rat in a cage
    Wow, it reminds me all the people in my class act eight years younger and I will have to deal with them.
  • Ryan from Anahola, HiThis song is the theme song of the TV show, Whale Wars.
  • Indigo from Adelaide, AustraliaBilly Corgan is a genius. Despite all my rage i am still just a rat in a cage: this line perfectly sums up the feeling of being so frustrated because no matter what you do you are still so inferior and unpowerful.
    Favourite Lines: "The world is a vampire", "And i still believe that i cannot be saved..." They are so true.
    Also, "Indre from Aus" wrote that Billy said Nirvana were the Beatles of their time and the Pumpkins were the Doors, i agree. Love you Smashing Pumpkins
  • Matt from Houston, Txoh,how I miss these angsty days of rebelling.

    no i don't
  • Alexa from Cs, NyThis song is awesome. And very addicting.
  • Rob from Chicago, IlThe title is derived from the classic Ray Bradbury short story, "The Sound of Thunder." Describing why would be a spoiler. The story deals with a close brush with the kind of government you would never want in America -- and a typical Ray Bradbury twist.
  • Sarah from Madison, Wi"The world is a vampire, sent to drain". So true. This song along with zero really gets my anger out.
  • D from Chicago, IlFirst Time I heard this song was in London in a basement pub (which was probably lacking a liquor license) I was there to meet my wife's parents, they'd hated me so I wandered around for a few hours and landed in the bottom of a bottle. There was this brit kid sitting on the bar with a boombox on the stool between his feet pumping a bootleg at max vol. This song came on and everyone in the bar who was just as pissed and depressed and annoyed with banality as I lost it and the ensuing riot lead to my first ever drunk and disorderly overseas.

    It's an amazing song, and I still have that bootleg cassette, I've since bought a few copies of the cd but I'll be taking that tape to the grave.
  • Rehash from Lancaster, NcI feel like psycho. Nobody else has suggested it ... "Fahrenheit 451" ... read the book, read the lyrics.

    (*thinks of a song like "Soma" and a book like "A Brave New World", or the song & the play "Rhinoceros")
  • The Nerd from Florida, FlI love these interpretations, it just shows how well-written a song is when you can read so many great opinions about it.

    The first time I heard the song, I was in Chicago, listening to radio and waiting for my wife to come out of a nail salon. It was dark and cold, the cars idling, I'm bored out of my mind, and the DJ says we just got the advance copy of the new Smashing Pumpkins cd, check it out... so I turned it up and I couldn't believe how good it was. Who would of thought they could follow up Siamese Dream with THAT flamethrower? Wife entered the car just as that last little guitar lick was playing, and I said, "Holy #$%&, you have to here the new 'Pumpkins."

    I'll always remember it. Corgan writes great songs.
  • Kuzma from Moscow, EuropeHardly about government or politics this song is really about commecial spy technologies in miusic industry an dirty PR affairs in publicity (as adopted by Smashing Pumpkins members). Seems to reveal real Smashing Pumpkins attitude to whats going on in mainstream those days.
  • Marco from Brownsville , TxThis song is awesome. For corgan to say "despite all my rage, im still just a rat in the cage" is just genius! Its like he's accepting that he's inferior.
  • Terry from Houston, TxFor the record, Billy Corgan really is a lyrical genius!!!!!!
  • Terry from Houston, TxSomeone told me once that Corgan had said that this song was somehow connected to government, and how government acted and ran things. I won't go into it, though, because we all know how the government tells you that you have the freedom of speech,(among other things), then holds you accountable by law for simply excercising your rights. did I just prove my point.....cool.
  • H from R, NcThis song started my music infatuation... I remember praying that this song would some on the radio when I was little. It reflects how I felt and still feel about my life as an adolescent. "Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage" is too accurate. Its awsome and makes everything seem like its ok.
  • Nathan from Manchester, EnglandGrungy brilliance. Billy Corgan and Co. really WERE some of the best musicians of the 90's.
  • Stacey from St.petersburg, FlI think this song is about how you can never escape fate and the butterfly wings protect you but the bullet destroys you their goes "I believe that I still can't be saved".
  • Rick from Humboldt, Iaon U2's live in chicago dvd bono starts singing this at the end of a song.
  • Ben from Chinatown, Kythe world is a vampire, amen...
  • Mutiny From You from Atlanta, Gaomfg this song is so mainstream... I cant believe you all this isnt smashing pumpkins... If you really want to here good smashing pumpkins listen to siamese dream...
  • Peter from Buenos Aires, ArgentinaThis song just lets me get my anger out, I dont really give a damn thing about the lyrics, but hearing "The world is a vampire" at the beginning just makes me say "hey, thats right, it really is". And i start hurling things across the room, its cheaper than a therapist!
  • Jer from London, CanadaRight on! Randi,Linton,ME. The world IS a vampier and this is so true because everything must feed off of one another in order to survive. Its sad but its true
  • Tim from Kilkenny, IrelandWow . . . Never heard that thing about The Pumpkins being The Doors of their time. Quite cool. I'm new to this thing. My first ever comment!
  • Indre from Wollongong, AustraliaI adore the Pumpkins and always will...as billy once put it, if Nirvana were the Beatles of their era, then the Pumpkins were the Doors. Couldn't have put it better myself...and this song is awesome.
  • Neal from New Lenox, IlI think this song is about the sleasyness of the music industry. when billy changes his voice "But can you fake it? fer jest one more show? its like hes assuming another character, while he himself says "I want to change" my theory is maybe its talking about the anger felt when a band makes it big and sometimes they end up with more problems.
  • Randi from Linton, Me"the world is a vampire" -enough said. this is possibly the most true line ever written. all hail the pumpkins
  • Adrienne from Santa Barbara, CaI love this song! Does anyone else think the vocals sound alot like Mick Jagger? I agree with Ben and Meredith. This song is about being so full of rage and frustration with life, government, the world, and feeling that you're powerless to do anything, that no one hears you and your ideas to try to make things better. Sums up my feelings after the US pres. election in 2000. AD
  • Rob from Auckland, New ZealandI first herd this song so many years ago when I was working at a Bar Manager in Auckland. I brought the album that day and then when ever I opened up in the mornings it was the first song I put on, brillant to pump yourself up for a day of drunken losers
  • Mariah from Miami, FlI'll put this song on to help me vent when I'm angry.
  • Kaylene from Moore, OrHey Lacy, what radio station is it that u say is a poser station? J/W... ya im from okla but im stupid n accidentally put OR lol
  • Ben from Beaverton, Orok. ill set you all straight, the song is about being full of emotion and angry and frustrated, but not being able to do anything about it. Much like life, you try and try and try as hard as you can, but you will still fail. there is no way to win and it makes you mad, but you cant do anything about it.
  • Meredith from Toronto, CanadaDespite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage.
    That lyric beautifully puts into words the frustration that so many youth feel every day. You have passion and anger and still barely any control. Cool
  • Lacy from Yukon, OkWhere I live we have a poser of a rock radio station. They didn't play this song until it got put in the trailer for that remake of "Willard" about a year ago.
  • Kurt from Downers Grove, IlThe video is incredible, I love the behind the scenes look of it on their greatest hits DVD.
  • Curtis from Colorado Springs, CoIt really depicts the bands way to put anger and mellowness into perspective
see more comments

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