the song
title : Butterfly jar
written by : Boo Hewerdine and Calum MacColl
song copyright : © 1996 Warner Music UK Ltd

the performance
musicians
Eddi Reader lead vocal
Teddy Borowiecki piano, music box with leslie effect, glockenspiel, accordion
Boo Hewerdine acoustic rhythm guitar
Calum MacColl electric, nylon and acoustic guitars
David Piltch electric bass
Roy Dodds drums and percussion
with :
Martin Green soprano saxophone
music
key : G sharp minor (!)
time-signature : 4/4
tempo : MM 104
form : V V C V C v C V N
lyrics

provided for research and private study only (see above for copyright details):

Butterfly jar

prettiest thing he ever saw
he’d been looking near and far
but he didn’t want the world to share
so he kept her in a butterfly jar

all the time his beauty slept
while he was watching in the dark
no one saw and no one knew
that he kept her in a butterfly jar

life goes on, around you everywhere now, life goes on
it’s buzzing everywhere now, life goes on
no matter who you are, you’ll never stop it jumping like a
spark into a heart

wouldn’t it be the strangest thing
as we spin around this weary star
if all the time we never knew
we were living in a butterfly jar

life goes on, around you everywhere now, life goes on
it’s buzzing everywhere now, life goes on
no matter who you are, you’ll never stop it jumping like a
spark into a heart

– congas solo

life goes on, around you everywhere now, life goes on
it’s buzzing everywhere now, life goes on
no matter who you are, you’ll never stop it jumping like a
spark into a heart

oh, heart

prettiest thing he ever saw
he’d been looking near and far
but he didn’t want the world to share
so he kept her in a butterfly jar {butterfly jar}
kept her in a butterfly jar
kept her in a butterfly… jar

– vocalise

explanations
dictionaries don’t seem to have a specific definition of a butterfly jar, but one visualises a large Victorian-looking glass thing (no, not “Victorian looking-glass”!) with a few ferns and a butterfly-net for decoration, housing a couple of sad specimens

the recording
personnel
produced by : Eddi Reader and Teddy Borowiecki
recorded by : Gerry O’Riordan assisted by Dan Gilliland, Mark Chambers and Ron Warshow at The Snake Ranch, Lots Road, Chelsea, London and David Bottrill assisted by Adrian Scarff and Simon Wall at Eden Studios, Acton, London (vocals)
mixed by : David Bottrill at Eden Studios, Acton, London
mastered by : Tim Young at Metropolis
technical
track timing : 5:33
song timing : m:ss
released on
album : Candyfloss and medicine (UK, Japan) track 8
album : Candyfloss and medicine (US) track 10

commentary
Eddi said
“This is obviously about possession and petty thought. The guys I work with play like angels on this.”
Candyfloss and medicine press release
additional notes
A song with a strong but eerie narrative and a rather depressing philosophical centre. Note how the reference to “this weary star” provides a subtle link to the “greying granite planet” of the ‘Town without pity’ lyric, thus tying that cover somewhat into the European version of the Candyfloss and medicine album.
Adrian Dover