Heart – Dog and Butterfly


There are so many great songs about dogs, or at least songs with the word dog in the title, that I struggled to choose one for today. I went with this classic ballad from Heart, partly because it’s one of those songs that whenever I come across it, on the radio, in a public space, I always stop and pay attention. Ann Wilson’s voice has a way of winding its way into your….yes, I’m gonna say it….heart. But it passes through all the other organs first, giving the listener a full-body experience.

It’s just the two of them, Nancy on acoustic guitar and Ann on lead vocals and there’s a simple joy to the song, a sweetness and an innocence. Kind of like a dog, no?

The song apparently came to be one day when Ann was watching her sheepdog running around in the backyard and noticed that it was chasing a butterfly. It made her think about all the things people chase in life, things they never catch up to and then end up feeling like failures. But her dog never exhibited frustration, he seemed to simply enjoy the company, the challenge, the playing.

I’ve read the lyrics to the song a few times, and if I squint carefully I sorta see parallels to Anne’s inspiration story, but it’s a bit of a stretch. To me, I take it more literally. Dogs don’t wallow in failure, they don’t give up before they’ve tried everything. And when I’m around a dog I move through periods of depression and sadness, I don’t get stuck in them. Dogs are guides; we might be the one holding the leash, but they’re the ones leading the way.

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 likes 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



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