Herbie Hancock wrote this song, along with Bennie Maupin who was a reeds master in Hancock’s bands–first the Mwandishi sextet and later in the more famous Headhunters aggregation. Butterfly became a standard of the seventies and then a jazz classic. The lyrics included the couplet: “and teach all our children not to lie / and maybe one day we’ll fly.”
Funky flying Negroes (the Garvey era capitalized the “N” in Negroes–get to that, if you can). Haven’t, at one time another, we all dreamed of flying. No plane, no jet, no balloon, nor any other kind of aerial apparatus, we were able to move through the skies based simply on our own will and desires to be in &/or experience another state of existence.
Here is the deep Jungian connection of our collective unconscious. More a subconscious feeling rather than a fully thought out (i.e. conscious) idea. After all, particularly in New Orleans (as well as in culturally related U.S. environs), we feel to believe, i.e. as mighty as the brain be, a body still needs feeling to fully be alive. Our ideas about living are not abstract. Real knowledge is not solely nor even predominately mental but rather also both a physical and spiritual way of being.
Nothing that “was” exists now. Whatever is coming is not yet here. We float and flow through life with all that being in the “now-time” implies. This is especially so for we African Americans, once called Negroes, the descendants of Africans forcibly introduced into new world Americas (north, central and south).
We brought African ways of knowing, exhibited aural and culinary cultures, during periods when reading and writing were prohibited for most of us and our innovative uses of the diverse plastic arts were both circumscribed and seldom allowed to fully flower. Moreover, don’t even get me started on dance, explicating the importance of kinetic bodily expressions.
For most of the years we have been here our culture was forced to remained mainly ephemeral or physically invisible, which is why our music is so powerful–damn near the whole of our American life experiences were put into and expressed through song.
I know, I know, this seems too philosophical for a brief popular look at music, but black music has always been deeper than well-tempered sound. Our soundz (with a “z”) have influenced the world to value internal feelings over obvious external hegemonies.
The master’s power could never match, nor curtail, nor completely extinguish the creativity of the nominally enslaved. Our life-affirming defiance/ignoring of authoritarian rules, regulations, restrictions, prohibitions and plain old bullshit, well, that’s the way we roll through square world constructions.
I’m going to stop here with just a little taste, but know there is much more than a mouthful waiting to be savored, eaten and digested.
Anyway, Butterfly is a slow, polyrhythm exercise with a beguiling melody floating atop. Here are two vocal versions and two instrumentals. Enjoy.