Smashing Pumpkins: Bullet With Butterfly Wings Meaning
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Song Released: 1995
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Bullet With Butterfly Wings Lyrics
Secret destroyers, hold you up to the flames
And what do I get, for my pain?
Betrayed desires, and a piece of the game
Even though I know - I suppose I'll show
All my cool and cold - like old...
I feel this song is primarily about how Corgan is lost, and the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ was not enough to save him spiritually. I slightly feel that the song is also about how Corgan feels trapped by stardom.
While the punchy chorus of "despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage" obviously speaks of entrapment, it's the first and second verses that tell us that stardom has become a double edged sword, or like the title, the bullet with butterfly wings. And it is the third verse that makes it clear that Corgan "cannot be saved."
The "World is a vampire, sent to drain..." bit is about the fans that "drain" or suck the life out of Corgan. The following few lines sum up how he has traded his work or "pain" for a piece of the game and with it came his "betrayed desires."
The second verse is about how Corgan is now exposed through his work, and is now continually trying to fake it in the spotlight of prominence. It speaks strongly of how he is annoyed that his desires for stardom have become disappontment.
In the third verse Corgan goes on to mention that "Jesus was an only son," and since he constantly uses the phrase "can never/cannot be saved" throughout the song, I feel as though he is trying to make the connection that although Jesus has already sacrificed himself for man, Corgan is still lost and cannot be saved because there is no other son of God to save him.
I don't quite think the connections Corgan is trying to make between being spiritually lost and being betrayed by his dreams is clearly expressed enough, so that's why I feel the song is more so about his feeling of loss rather than "betrayed by stardom." Like most pumpkins songs, the lyrics are a little more difficult to crack, so I am not sure that these are right, it's just what I have come to think after a few years of listening :D
anonymous Jan 18th, 2018 1:08pm report
It is a song of personal hopelessness.
The music business and world at large will drain a person of everything if allowed to do so. The irony is that the artist pursues fame only to realise the mistake he's made after he's succeeded and become trapped.
Can there be salvation from this existential suffering?
The book of Job discusses the problem of a righteous god in the light of human suffering. If god loves us why is there so much pain?
With that question unanswered, he turns to Jesus but finds no solution there either.
With no clear way out, the overall conclusion is, despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage.
Obviously some deep dark stuff going on in Billy's brain while writing this one!
anonymous Apr 22nd, 2016 4:16pm report
This song is about the New World Order and the elite class that controls us all. The name "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" is a reference to all the comforts and conveniences that we indulge in everyday that are presented to us as butterfly wings but are in actuality a bullet that kills us and our humanity. Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars
anonymous Oct 16th, 2013 10:37pm report
It is about the music buisness...
anonymous Jul 26th, 2013 7:25am report
this song is about the pointlessness of life. At the beginning he's acknowledging the futility and then at the end he's hoping that he's the chosen one; like Jesus.
anonymous Mar 15th, 2013 3:35am report
SO, this is what I believe the song means. Of course, you are entitled to your own opinion. The Kurt Cobain comments are not worth the time it took to write them: don't confuse correlation with cause. I apologize in advance for the length of my interpretation, but then again, one only searches for lyric meanings when one has time to burn.
This song is about the lost feeling that you get when you realize that everything you've been working for is as pointless as "a rat in a cage" running the crap out of a wheel and getting nowhere. So, you toil away for fame, power or money, and then...? The whole thing is a vicious cycle.
The monetary system is flawed, built on debt. The masses are marginalized for the comfort of a few. You are reading this. That means you have access to a computer and the internet and the free time to look up rock lyrics. Did you earn these luxuries, or was it all some sick trick of chance?
Verse 1: You feel trapped because you hate what the cage does to you, how it drains your humanity,and no matter what you do, you tread on the fingers of the have-nots.
The Bridge is about cowardice. We are afraid to act out. Afraid we're wrong. /Maybe it will go away if we just sit this one out/, we think. Even though we can see so much evil, "even though I know", we feel we must be the better person by not getting involved. Patience "like old Job".
Verse 2 draws on Corgan's experience as a performer, but we can all relate to feeling empty and oh so tired; bargaining with yourself, "one more show". Just getting out of bed to start a day that has no meaning... you might as well be a naked animal, with no more meaning to your life than survival.
And that is the problem: we hate the system -- "I want to change" -- but we can do nothing. We feel isolated,and there is this creeping, restless thought crawling around in the back of our heads: what if we *all* feel trapped, and are just waiting for something to happen?
"Tell me I'm the only one
Tell me there's no other one
Jesus was the only son, yeah
Tell me I'm the chosen one
Jesus was the only son for you"
In Christian-Western society, we have been taught that subversive/anti-societal behavior is evil and should not be engaged in. At the same time, Jesus-figures keep popping up, snubbing authority and freeing the masses from their cages. The likes of George Washington,Winston Churchill, Martin Luther, Simon Bolivar, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela have risen against and above the opposition to lead their people into short eras of freedom and equality. Corgan is asking for a sign that it is his time to be the "chosen one". There is this constant conflict between these two trains of thought -- "Tell me I'm the chosen one" and "Jesus was the only son for you" -- and it results in a mire of frustration and anger, but "Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage".
Corgan feels the futility of inaction, and no matter how hard he tries, "what was lost can never be saved". Are we a lost cause? The song ends with Corgan singing "I still believe that I cannot be saved".
What can we do? Will we eventually achieve some sort of collective "class consciousness"? How long can we keep blowing off steam by listening to 20-year-old alt-rock? Put your ear to the ground and you can hear society ripping at the seams. Whether it be outright international war or genocide; or a more subtle revolution, we are in for a bumpy ride. Buckle up and Rock On. D
anonymous Nov 9th, 2011 11:32am report
Maybe the "Jesus was an only son for you" is directed at God. this would explain "i still believe that i cannot be saved." It also would explain the reference to Job. He's telling God that he's in pain and powerless and (prbly sarcastically) that maybe he'll endure it like Job. He says he wants a change but feels the same so maybe he's saying he doesnt believe God will "save" him or change his situation. Then the beginning of the song could be comparing an ordinary person's struggles with the suffering of Jesus Christ.
anonymous Sep 12th, 2011 9:23pm report
This song is about heroin addiction ..
anonymous Jun 11th, 2011 6:15am report
This song is about how Corrigan is suicidal and he doesn't feel wanted by any one, and all he feels is pain, but he's not capable of killing himself so he guesses he'll show, but he can never be saved. he also believes that no one else understands so jesus is the only one for you, the only one who can save you. My freind told me he was sucidal today and this song just popped into my head and everything he was feeling was explained through this song. This same freind also told me stories about Billy Corrigan in High School because one of his freinds step dads went to school with him and apparently he was a huge loser and he gave a speech for his basketball team at a pep rally and the crowd chanted Corrigan sucks. I could be wrong, but it seems right
anonymous Apr 13th, 2011 4:44pm report
I think this song is about how he is a controlled person and he is trapped by the Illuminati.
anonymous Mar 24th, 2011 3:14pm report
The title to me, means that somethings may just look pretty. They try to disguise it but it is what it is
anonymous Jan 26th, 2011 1:49pm report
This song has nothing to do with Kurt Cobain. He did not commit suicide he was murdered. And there is no reason to bring 3rd world people into this. You can go sell your computer and send the money over for some person and not bother us with your obsession with these people
lolbuttsex Jan 8th, 2009 1:26pm report
This song is about kurt cobain.
end of story.
In his suicide letter he says that going on stage was like a job for him, and that he had to fake the excitement he once actually felt.
Even though I know - I suppose I'll show
All my cool and cold - like old job
But can you fake it, for just one more show?
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