Bob Lind

Elusive Butterfly

Song Review by

"Elusive Butterfly" was a landmark in early folk-rock, as one of the first -- if not the first -- folk-rock song to prominently use strings in the arrangement. It was songwriter Bob Lind's only hit single, too, reaching #5 in early 1966. It was, to say the least, an unusually wordy single for the time, and that gorgeous string arrangement, created by the famed Jack Nitzsche, was the ingredient most responsible for its commercial success. "Elusive Butterfly" is constructed around gently jangling folky guitars with shades of country and easy listening pop, rather in the way exploited by Glen Campbell later in the decade, or by Harry Nilsson in his hit cover of Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'." The melody of the verse is a little bland, but fluid in how it's drawled-sung by Lind, who jams a lot of syllables into little time. More memorable, and perhaps more key to getting it onto the radio, is the more sweeping, expansive chorus. The folk roots of Lind's sounds were evident in the lyrics, which were romantic sort of ruminations that used fleeting images to convey its emotions, rather than specific events or situations. Lind cast himself as something of a butterfly hunter, looking for romance, and finding it as elusive as butterflies are to capture. Oddly, when asked which of the first four songs he recorded should be issued as a single, Lind pooh-poohed "Elusive Butterfly," saying that he didn't care which one was selected as long as it wasn't "Elusive Butterfly." It was originally put on the B-side of "Cheryl's Goin' Home" when, as would sometimes happen in the early days of rock, a DJ (on the Florida station WQAM) flipped it over and started playing it, kicking off its nationwide rise. In Britain, Lind had to compete with a cover by MOR pop singer Val Doonican; both versions reached #5 there. "Elusive Butterfly" gathered its share of other covers too, including ones by Cher, Glen Campbell, Petula Clark, the Four Tops, and Dolly Parton. The best-known cover, though, is probably the one by Aretha Franklin, who put it on her Soul '69 album.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
21 Golden Gate Greats (Vol 2) 1969
Various Artists
Take 6 Inc.
AM Gold: 1966 1990
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:51
Classic Rock: 1966 - Blowin' Your Mind 1990
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:51
Golden Years: 1966 1990
Various Artists
Dominion 2:51
Flower Power Hits of the 60's 1992
Various Artists
Capitol 2:50
The Best of Bob Lind: You Might Have Heard My Footsteps 1993 EMI Music Distribution 2:46
Rock & Roll Years: 1966 1993
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:51
Rock Is Dead But It Won't Lie Down: 24 Greatest Hits of All Time, Vol. 2 1993
Various Artists
Gold Rush 2:49
Car Trax: Taking It Easy 1995
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:46
Sunny Afternoons [Polygram] 1995
Various Artists
Polygram 2:48
Super Box of Rock, Vol. 3 1995
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:46
Time-Life's Treasury of Folk Music, V. 2 1996
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:50
20th Century Rocks, Vol. 8: '60s Pop - Those Were the Days 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:49
Rock -N- Roll's Greatest Hits of All Time, Vol. 3: The 60s 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 3:05
Rock -N- Roll's Greatest Hits of All Time, Vol. 5 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 2:46
Jukebox Hits of 1966, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Jukebox Records 2:47
Chartbusters USA, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Ace 2:05
Spirit of the 60's: Folk Rock, Vol. 1 2000
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:50
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Disky 2:51
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:50
Beat Boom 2001
Various Artists
Disky / Disky Communications 2:51
Complete Collection 2001
Various Artists
Disky 2:50
Jukebox Hits 1966 [Madacy Single Disc] 2001
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:50
Jukebox Hits 1966 [Madacy 2 CD] 2002
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:50
The Folk Years: Yesterday's Gone 2002
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:50
The Folk Years [Box Set] 2003
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:50
The Sunshine Collection 2003
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:49
It Happened in the Sixties 2005
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:50
Flower Power [Disky] 2005
Various Artists
Disky Communications
Greatest Hits of the 60's 2006
Various Artists
Disky 2:50
101 60's Hits [EMI] 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:48
Elusive Butterfly: The Complete Jack Nitzsche Sessions 2007 Black Tulips 2:48
Top of the Pops: 1966 2007
Various Artists
BBC Music / EMI 2:49
Dont Be Concerned/Photographs of Feeling 2007 Blue Note / Zonophone 2:51
This Is 1966 2008
Various Artists
EMD Int'l 2:49
Original Hits: Love 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:48
101 Pirate Radio Hits 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:48
Romancing the '60s [Time] 2013
Various Artists
StarVista / Time / Life Music 2:50
Hard to Find 45's on CD, Vol. 17: Late Sixties Classics 2017
Various Artists
Eric Records 2:49
Lost Hits of the 60's [All Original Artists & Versions]
Various Artists
Capitol 2:52
Romancing the '60s: This Magic Moment
Various Artists
StarVista 2:50