Nov 03

ANDY WILLIAMS – “Butterfly”

Popular36 comments • 2,841 views

#59, 25th May 1957

To someone like me who’s never much listened to Elvis, it’s once again remarkable how obvious and immediate his vocal influence was. Those short “-uh” breath-stops at the end of each line are all over “Butterfly”, little tongue-shrugs made to mimic pelvic flicks. And it’s worth emphasising how mannered they seem: if you’ve been brought up on the received history that rock’n’roll brought something rawer and more natural to pop performance it’s intriguing to hear how theatrical and odd all those “uh-huh-huh”s sound at a distance. Here the new vocal armoury is deployed on a slight and rather unpleasant song – Andy loves his girl but she keeps hanging around other guys. After oiling around for a verse or two he hits on a solution – “I love you so much / I know what I’ll do / I’m clipping your wings / Your flying is through.” Ah, romance.



  1. 1
    wichita lineman on 20 Jan 2009 #

    Once Andy became the Earl of Cardigans with his easy image TV show, he was keen to erase this Elvis imitation from his catalogue, even though it had been a UK and US no.1. So he bought the rights to his Cadence recordings very early on. I don’t think they were ever re-issued on vinyl, and Butterfly appeared on cd for the first time a couple of years back when Ace put out his first couple of albums. Possibly explains the Spotify hole.

    His revisionism worked, though, cos Butterfly is now an obscure no.1 unless, like my parents, you remember it from the time: almost no airplay from the seventies onwards. So without any nostalgic bent, this sounds like pretty mediocre work.

    Still, I recommend Andy’s saucily eager lite-rock follow-up, I Like Your Kind Of Love.

  2. 2
    Anthony Henning on 15 Apr 2009 #

    I love this song, it makes me smile whenever I hear it. It too is a cover version, original by Charlie Gracie, which is probably a source of much of the vocal style imitated by Andy as Elvis.

  3. 3
    Billy Smart on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Light entertainment watch: Only a couple of Andy Williams’ infrequent appearances on UK television didn’t survive;

    SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MILL: with Andy Williams, Norman Vaughan (1978)

    WEDNESDAY AT 8: with The Mike Sammes Singers, Lionel Blair Dancers, Andy Williams, Ted Rogers, Bernie Clifton, Lips (1976)

    All of these still exist;

    CILLA: with Bill Simpson, The Brothers Lee, Andy Williams (1976)

    AN EVENING WITH…: Andy Williams (1978)

    FRIDAY NIGHT… SATURDAY MORNING: with Andy Williams, William Rushton, Sponooch, Barry Cryer, Peter Glaze, Seid Saeid, The Alberts (1979)

    HARTY: with Joan Collins, Andy Williams (1984)

    THE MUPPET SHOW: with Andy Williams (1980)

    PARKINSON: with The Harry Stoneham Five, Andy Williams (1973)

    PARKINSON: with Andy Williams (1974)

    PARKINSON: with Walter McCorrisken, Norman Mailer, Andy Williams (1979)

    RONNIE CORBETT’S THURSDAY SPECIAL: with Andy Williams, Sacha Distel (1978)

    THE ROYAL VARIETY PERFORMANCE: with Herman’s Hermits, Leslie Crowther, Andy Williams, Sandy Powell, Marty Feldman, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Freddie Starr, Dionne Warwick (1970)

    RUSSELL HARTY: with Bob Guccione, Andy Williams (1976)

    RUSSELL HARTY: with Joanna Lumley, Andy Williams (1976)

    SHOW OF THE WEEK: Andy Williams (1968)

    SUNDAY, SUNDAY: with Andy Williams, Paul Shane (1984)

    SUNDAY, SUNDAY: with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Andy Williams, David Frost, Andrew O’Connor, Julie Walters (1986)

    THE VAL DOONICAN MUSIC SHOW: with Andy Williams, Bothy Band (1978)

    WOGAN: with Richard Branson, Bucks Fizz, Jessye Norman, Daniel J. Travanti, Andy Williams (1985)

  4. 4
    betweenweathers on 21 Aug 2009 #

    Does this mean that there may be video files of the time Walter McCorrisken appeared on Parkinson?

    I would welcome any help anyone can give me in finding this clip if it does exist. I am friendly with Walter’s surviving family members.

    ron mcmillan – ronmcmillanATgmailDOTcom

  5. 5
    Ronnie McCorrisken on 1 Sep 2009 #

    Walter McCorrisken: The family would greatly appreciate any links or clips of footage of Walter’s 2 appearances on Parkinson , TVAM or other footage such as BBC news etc if known. Many thanks to Ron McMillan for keeping this in the public eye.

    Ronnie McCorrisken. rory905@hotmail.com

  6. 6
    Lena on 31 May 2011 #

    Another Williams song to discuss (if you wish!) http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2011/05/holding-on-for-life-andy-williams-cant-html

  7. 7
    punctum on 31 May 2011 #

    That link oddly didn’t work so let’s try it again:


  8. 8
    Lena on 31 May 2011 #

    Thanks! :-)

  9. 9
    R McCorrisken on 25 Jan 2012 #

    Any sign of the Parkinson show with Walter McCorrisken?

    if anyone can help please contact me via rory905@hotmail.com

    Many thanks.

    R McCorrisken

  10. 10
    Paulito on 26 Jan 2012 #

    The song is just a lame rehash of “Singing the Blues”; of more interest is Tom’s suggestion that the highly mannered vocals in this and other Elvis-influenced recordings of the era bely the received wisdom that rock’n’roll injected some much-needed rawness and naturalism into the popular music scene. I have some points I’d like to make in response:

    Firstly, rock’n’roll is not defined by a few Elvisesque vocal mannerisms. Luckily, the r&r ‘scene’ had plenty of other influential performers who sang in very differing and distinctive styles. Secondly, Tom, would you describe the early work of Presley, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis or Bo Diddley as lacking in sufficient rawness, natural feel or spontaneity? And how would you compare it to what dominated the pop charts before they came along?

    Thirdly, can you name me one “raw” and “natural” musical scene that *hasn’t* involved a lot of stylised vocalising? Such mannerisms are integral to nearly all popular music; they’re part of what distinguishes a particular sound and makes it fun and memorable. Yes, there will always be some singers who overdo or overrely on them, but so what?

    “Received history”, my foot.

    PS one final point: This ain’t rock’n’roll….this is ANDY WILLIAMS!

  11. 11

    Secondly, Tom, would you actually describe the early recordings of Presley, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lew Lewis or Bo Diddley as lacking in rawness, natural feel or spontaneity?

    Tom’s point is compressed but you have it topsyturvy — it’s that the influence of rock’n’roll on pop tended (at this stage) to manifest not as raw naturalism in pop, but as mannerism. Your third point combined with the PS pretty much exactly restates his.

  12. 12
    Paulito on 26 Jan 2012 #

    If that was indeed Tom’s point, then I think it was he who got it topsy-turvy. If he intended to say that rock’n’roll was initially a breath of fresh air before its impact became diluted by inferior and increasingly mannered copyists, then fine. But that isn’t what he’s saying.

  13. 13

    No, nor did I say it was. He’s saying something quite interesting and subtle, which you keep rewriting into the mere exact opposite of your preferred (received) cliche, and then bleating about. But I’ll let him expand on it.

  14. 14
    Paulito on 26 Jan 2012 #

    *Sigh*….No need to condescend. I understand the point that you think Tom is making. But I happen to think that, whatever his intentions, the actual words of his post convey a different and altogether less subtle point.

  15. 15
    punctum on 26 Jan 2012 #

    I’m with Mark on this one. It’s not at all what Tom is saying and unfortunately anyone who purposely misreads his piece or reads it only in a way that confirms what he wants it to say is rather sad and autistic.

    No offence.

  16. 16
    Paulito on 27 Jan 2012 #

    Given that insulting others is your stock in trade, it would be silly of me to take any offence. How refreshing to see to see that your recent misfortune hasn’t altered your outlook on life.

  17. 17
    admin on 27 Jan 2012 #

    FWIW, I think it’s quite easy to make the misreading, Paulito. Largely based on the tone of irony usually invoked by the negative connotations that come along with the phrase ‘received history’

  18. 18

    Ach, I was really not at my generous best yesterday morning, I fear. No sleep and vile all-day pressure headache: in which short-tempered state I felt I could sense a lot of dismissive scorn in Paulito’s second reply up there and decided to redirect some of it back at him. Apologies if I rather overdid this, Paulito. As I said above, I think Tom’s post is quite compressed (and hence easy to misread), but I really still do think you’re misreading it. (He also wrote it nine years go, so his attitudes may well have shifted a little: doubtless he can tell us when he is out of work-related hell…) (in nine years time…)

  19. 19
    Mutley on 27 Jan 2012 #

    I think we need to distinguish between those short “uh” breath-stops and those “uh-huh-huh”s. The former was a mannerism adopted by many male pop or rock’n’roll singers at that time and is very sexual (at least, for 1957). In the few years before 1956/7 it became acceptable for major male stars (Brando, James Dean) to show a more “feminine” side (compared with more established film stars) – e.g. crying on screen and, as we know, Johnnie Ray, Nabob of Sob and a big influence on Elvis, shed a few tears and groaned a little. I see the short “uh” breath-stops as part of this development. This more feminine approach by male singers opened the way for much subsequent pop, even if the specifics changed. In my view those short “uhs” deserve more credit.

    On the other hand, “uh-huh-huh” was a mannerism used by Elvis to great success in All Shook Up which came after Butterfly as a hit. It set the formula for many subsequent hits, although not Elvis’ next hit – Jailhouse Rock. His first post-army single Stuck on You is All Shook Up revisited. Other than because this mannerism was such a success for Elvis, I’m not sure why he used it so often – it’s a bit like a nonsense word such as fol-de-rol in traditional folk music. I don’t think it was used by anyone else other than as pastiche? In the view of many, Elvis was coasting with “uh-huh-huh”.

    Votes? short “uh” breathstops 10; “Uh-huh-huh” 3.

    By the way, in 1957 I’m not sure there was any real difference between the two categories called pop and rock’n’roll. Is Charlie Gracie who did the original of Butterfly pop or rock’n’roll? – judge for yourselves on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSpPxmx6GSg

    Further by the way, what’s wrong with pop being mannered?

  20. 20

    The O/P doesn’t say in fact anywhere say that “mannered” and “theatrical” are bad things in pop — and I would be astonished if this was Tom’s position. What it says is that “raw” and “natural” are extremely bad descriptions of the effects of rock’n’roll as they manifested in the charts — as others (new to rock’n’roll) picked them up and deployed them* — whether or not they happen to be unproblematic descriptions of the effects as they originally manifested in rock’n’roll (which goes undiscussed). As metaphors they ARE in fact quite problematic — and as descriptors they’re a bit shopworn — but the OP doesn’t anywhere explore this (separate) aspect of the issue: the post is not about the rights and wrongs of describing rock’n’roll itself, it’s entirely focused (for all of its very short length) on the thoughtless habit of tagging rock’n’roll’s effects on the charts, assumed good, with adjectives that signal approval, despite these adjectives actually being quite unfit to purpose — if only from the perspective of someone arriving new to the whole territory from the 21st century, and unused to the conventionalised way these adjectives get deployed, as a kind of transferred epiphet that exactly misses that the descriptive element of the epiphet fails to transfer into the new context. Something outsiders are likely to notice, and sometimes react against.

    *It’s true that this entails making a slightly artificial distinction between rock’n’roll as it affected the charts and rock’n’roll as it actually appeared in the charts. (And yes, I’m using “the charts” instead of what Tom’s calling pop, because the latter too complex a word not to be misunderstood in such a concentrated context.)

  21. 21

    Adding that the fact that THIS record is a crappy specimen of whatever it’s an example of doesn’t signal that Tom dislikes all or any other examples — I think he makes this distinction clear enough, but perhaps you need to know stuff not in the post pick up on this.

  22. 22
    Paulito on 27 Jan 2012 #

    Well I’m pleased to see I sparked off a bit of debate, at least. I’ve no difficulty in acknowleding that I misinterpreted Tom’s point, if that’s the case. What initially set the alarm bells off for me was when he kicked off his post by remarking that he hadn’t listened to much Elvis. Given that statement, I think it was reasonable for me to infer that Tom may not (at least, not at the time he wrote the post) have been too familiar with early Elvis or, indeed, with a lot of the other pure, unadulterated rock’n’roll from the era. From his subsequent comments I extrapolated a thesis that rock’n’roll (as personified by Elvis, it appeared) was, in retrospect, as stylised and ersatz as the stuff it superseded in the charts. My attempted rebuttal was essentially that (a) while this was true of Presley’s many watered-down imitators and, a bit later on, the King himself, there were many other important strands of rock’n’roll which bore none of the same mannerisms; and (b) Presley’s recordings between ’54 and ’56 were (with the exception of a couple of rather timid country ballads) utterly raw, primal and lacking in contrivance. This is his most important work – the stuff that has had the deepest and most abiding influence – and there’s not an “uh-huh-huh” to be heard. As Mutley says, Elvis never used that infamous device until “All Shook Up” in early ’57.

    But, as I say, I’ll happily accept that Tom knew all of this and hadn’t really intended to reduce rock’n’roll to a rather quaint and stagey phenomenon emblemised by a few vocal tics (though I note he can’t stand Buddy Holly’s hiccupping either!). Indeed, I was surprised to think that this was what he was suggesting, because I’m fully aware how incisive and erudite he normally is. Maybe I misread the OP, or maybe (which I did kind of suspect) Tom was just being a bit flippant. Anyway, hopefully the man himself will enlighten us before too long….

    PS @ #18: Thanks p*nk s lord, I appreciate that.

  23. 23
    punctum on 27 Jan 2012 #

    “pure,” “unadulterated,” “contrivance” – using such words here can only lead to DAVID SOUL HORSE NIGHTMARE

  24. 24
    flahr on 28 Jan 2012 #

    I certainly look forward to Steven Spielberg’s inevitable sequel David Soul Horse sweeping the board at the Oscars.

  25. 25
    Mark G on 26 Sep 2012 #

    Singer Andy Williams has died at his home in Branson, Missouri, after a year-long battle with bladder cancer, aged 84.

    He had many hit singles including his Oscar-winning rendition of Moon River, featured in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

    In 1962 he started The Andy Williams Show on NBC.

    He also ran the Andy Williams Moon River Theater in his home town since the 1990s.

    Williams is survived by his wife, Debbie, and his three children, Robert, Noelle and Christian.


  26. 26
    enitharmon on 26 Sep 2012 #

    Just in case erithian and the swede sent me the usual potted obits, I should point out that my mobile blew up two days ago (just when I felt it might be needed to call the Kendal Mountain Rescue Team to rescue me from the ever-rising River Kent, although I escaped unscathed).

    Today the clouds parted, the sun shone, and the twice-postponed Ethel & John Gardner Ladies Open Memorial Shield for crown-green bowls finally went ahead. And, er, I won it.

  27. 27
    wichita lineman on 27 Sep 2012 #

    Having wondered yesterday how odd it is that Frankie Vaughan’s sig tune was the relatively late, total flop Give Me The Moonlight, I noticed how C4 News’ coverage of Andy Williams’ passing today was very heavy on Moon River. I’m intrigued to know how it became Andy’s default tune – again, it wasn’t any kind of hit in Britain, or even America (where Jerry Butler’s gorgeous version got to #11 in ’61), even though he had countless massive hits in both countries.

    Is it generational? I associate him with Almost There (a Family Favourites regular in the late 60s and a would-be 9 for me on Popular, if only it had gone one place higher) and the algebraic oddness of Can’t Get Used To Losing You (another UK no.2). But I’m no young pup. Does anyone under 45 think of Moon River when they hear Andy Williams’ name?

    Butterfly is a weak song to remember him by, but there are are fine tributes to Andy Williams’ better work on Lena and Marcello’s blogs.

    I’m going to give Home Lovin’ Man a spin before I turn in. N’night.

    EDIT: So a quick google brought this up, which explains a lot… Moon River was the Stairway To Heaven/Thank You For The Music/Teenage Riot of its day:

    Andy W: “Mancini and Mercer played this song for me, which I thought was great. But my record company was really into singles then, and they said: ‘I don’t think phrases like ‘my Huckleberry friend’ will make it with the kids — they won’t know what it means.'”

    Then four weeks before the 1962 Academy Awards… “I was invited to sing ‘Moon River’ on the Oscars show, and Columbia Records decided we ought to rush a ‘Moon River’ album into the stores, because that tune looked like a shoo-in for the ‘best song’ Oscar. So they quickly put out an album, had it in the stores on the day of the Oscars, and the next morning it sold 500,000 copies.”

  28. 28
    swanstep on 27 Sep 2012 #

    The real misfortune about talking up Andy Williams’s Moon River so much is that it’s not nearly as good as the version in the film. Mancini wrote the tune especially for Hepburn and her limited range, her particular good notes and breathiness. But the slenderness of the song and the voice (just 83 seconds of singing!) go well together and the delicacy of the basic arrangement sells it, allowing the context and character to stand forth.

    Without all of that context,and with the constraints of a normal pop record Williams drags out the song to nearly double the length and generally pumps up both the vocal and the arrangement. Shouldn’t work
    and it doesn’t. Williams and others just got lucky with the hit because Mancini’s score album for the film (which apparently spent 12 weeks at #1 in the US) didn’t include Hepburn’s version of the song from the film (which wasn’t officially released on any record until the ’90s IIRC) nor any other non-instrumental version.

  29. 29
    Mark G on 27 Sep 2012 #

    OK, I’ve heard “Butterfly” now. It’s a ‘less-good’ copy of “Singing the Blues”.

    Anyways, without re-raising the ‘storm’ from above, the “Presleyism” that got taken up by the ‘in-danger-of-being-left-behind’ singers, a good example seems to be Chris Morris (pka Lance Fortune) “Be Mine (alles machen wollen kussen)” which seems to me like someone suddenly said “sing it like this, try” and they took one go at it.


    The alternate/original title (german) translates as “All girls want kissing”, which is a little disconcerting, even in those days, yeah?

    (and I was going to keep it short..)

  30. 30
    wichita lineman on 27 Sep 2012 #

    “Sing it like Adam Faith” to be more specific.

  31. 31
    enitharmon on 27 Sep 2012 #

    I await with bated breath Tom’s take on Andy’s “huckleberry”.

  32. 32
    Jimmy the Swede on 29 Sep 2012 #

    Rosie – Congrats on winning the Shield. Roll away, ball! And will your new mobile have the same number?

    Big fan of the Andy show back in the day. I loved the running sketch he had with the “bear”, who used to cold-call Williams in search of cookies. It always ended the same way with the usually golden-hearted Andy sceaming “Not now, not ever, NEVER!!” and slamming the door only for the bear to try again next week.

    I’m with Lino on “Almost There” (which it was), “Can’t get used…” and “Home Lovin’ Man”. I also liked “It’s So Easy”. Happy memories of Andy Williams, one of the industry’s nice guys. RIP.

  33. 33
    enitharmon on 5 Apr 2017 #

    Reports of the demise of Brian Matthew appear to have been premature, although he is said to be “critically ill” as I write. Why mention it here? Because it was on 1 June 1957 during the reign of Andy’s song that Brian first presented Saturday Skiffle Club, or Saturday Club as it later became, on the BBC Light Programme. For so many of us over a certain age, Saturday Club gave us our first taste of pop on a Saturday morning. One of the great radio voices too.

  34. 34
    Jimmy the Swede on 8 Apr 2017 #

    A terrible cock-up by the BBC in reporting this. I would suggest that when “our old mate” Brian Matthew does finally glove one, our tributes would be better served on the “Foot Tapper” blog, as this (as is mentioned by both Punctum and Pilgrim) served as Brian’s “Sounds of the Sixties” theme which exited his show. I sincerely hope this won’t be for some time yet.

  35. 35
    slideyfoot on 30 May 2020 #

    That Spotify hole looks to have been closed, as Butterfly pops up here: https://open.spotify.com/track/7dqSnbweoewZnyRTEvgfCZ?si=pZ0vaK_mTW24YcKUIh1pHw

    On a whole album of number 1s from 1956-1957, which is handy for the Spotify playlist I’ve been building as I read through Popular. :)

  36. 36
    Gareth Parker on 9 Jun 2021 #

    I would go up to a 6/10 for Andy.

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