Butterfly On A Wheel

Album: Carved In Sand (1990)
Charted: 12
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Songfacts®:

  • The Mission UK frontman Wayne Hussey wrote this song about about the disintegration of the relationship between Julianne Regan of the band All About Eve and her boyfriend Tim Bricheno. All About Eve were The Mission's "sister" band and there was much cross-collaboration between its members on each others' records.

    Hussey felt helpless to see two people he knew well and liked emotionally tearing each other to pieces, but dared not interfere in case it made matters worse.

    In any case, The Mission had troubles of their own to concentrate his mind, with Simon Hinkler (ex-Pulp) becoming disillusioned with the band and starting to drink heavily, causing their US tour to be a headline maker for all the wrong reasons - he left after the Carved In Sand sessions. "Butterfly On A Wheel" was part of over disagreements regarding what songs were to go on the album - the budget priced Grains Of Sand album (1990) was a futile attempt at a peace offering.

    The song is Hussey reaching out to both, offering his sympathy and saying that time would heal their wounds as they went their separate ways.

    Ironically, time didn't.

    Inevitably Bricheno left AAE, but joined the Sisters Of Mercy - a huge slap in the face for The Mission due to the ruinous court case between Andrew Eldritch and Hussey/Craig Adams over the use of the name "The Sisters Of Mercy" and "The Sisterhood" and the acrimonious feuding between the bands in the music press (ironically Bricheno later became a "tours-only" guitarist for The Mission when his own musical career foundered post-SOM and options were limited).

    Regan meanwhile was forced to borrow members of the Australian band The Church (famous for "Under The Milky Way" used in the film Donnie Darko), Midnight Oil, and even David Gilmour of Pink Floyd to finish their next album, Touched By Jesus, as AAE quickly fell apart without Bricheno. The lyrics of all three singles from the album ("Strange Way," "Farewell Mr Sorrow," and "The Dreamer") were little more than Regan's venom at her ex-boyfriend.
  • The actual title of the song, "Butterfly On A Wheel," references the famous Times (of London) editorial of July 1, 1967, "Who Breaks A Butterfly On A Wheel?" (itself taken from a quote in Alexander Pope's "Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot" of January 1735) by William Rees Mogg, which condemned the unduly harsh court sentence on Mick Jagger and the aftermath of the court cases surrounding the Profumo scandal, which it blamed for the suicide of Stephen Ward, who was demonized by the emerging tabloid press in much the same manner as Jagger was over possession of a travel sickness pill which was legal in Italy (where he'd travelled from) but illegal in the UK at that time. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mark Boyle - Johnstone, for above 2

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