“Butterfly Kisses”

I didn’t have a care in the world for the lyrics or their meaning

Bob Carlisle, the Christian country singer, wrote this song in 1997 and was part of his album, Shades of Grace. Butterfly Kisses” climbed to #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart that year, and snatched a Grammy for best country song.[i]

I first heard this song when I was 9 years old and back then, I didn’t have a care in the world for the lyrics or the meaning. I clearly remember though how many radio stations overplayed this single. In later years, I understood the sappy and overly sentimental lyrics. I was also annoyed with how people deemed it ‘the song’ for occasions like sweet 16 parties and weddings.

“Butterfly Kisses” is composed with an overriding sentiment. Carlisle sounds like he is going to die once his daughter is finally married, especially with lyrics like I can’t believe I’m losing my baby girl or I know I gotta let her go but I’ll always remember ev’ry hug in the morning and butterfly kisses.[ii]  So, when I heard my best friend, Emily, was going to dance with her father to “Butterfly Kisses,” at her wedding I thought, “How trite!” To my surprise though, I changed my mind.

The disc jockey called the bride and her father to the dance floor

My best friend, Emily, married her fiancé of 2 years last Saturday, and it was a ceremony to remember.

The ceremony and reception took place at the Venetian Yacht Club on Bay Shore, Long Island. When 3 pm rolled around, everybody, including some of the bridal party, already shed a few tears and devoured several drinks and mediocre food. Everybody who partook in frantic and zealous dancing – which is normal at weddings nowadays – rested at their tables at this time. Then the disc jockey called Emily and her father to the floor for their dance. “Butterfly Kisses” started.

This wedding was the last experience I would share with her

When Carlisle sang, she’s looking like her mama a little more ev’ry day/ One part woman the other part girl/ …/Trying her wings out in a great big world,[iii] I had a flashback of Emily and me growing up.

As she grew up, Emily did look like her mother more and more every day. Emily was also always happy to try new things and use her talents in new ways. Discovering new talents and taking on different challenges like becoming a second language teacher in Harlem, volunteering as an EMT and playing college rugby is how she spread her wings.

Aside from her talents and development as a young woman, I recalled our laughs and happy memories volunteering in the Appalachia Service Projects and making fun of Baywatch and other series starring David Hasselhoff. Emily and I always had fun constructing our own world of comedy. We grew up creating funny stories through amateur films; song writing; and short stories so we could share them with our close friends and siblings. Even when others didn’t understand our humor or our personalities or relationship, we always understood each other.

Then, it was clear to me this wedding was the last experience I would share with Emily as her best friend. That’s when I started tearing. I cried more as the song continued, you know how much I love you Daddy, but if you don’t mind/ I’m only gonna kiss you on the cheek this time/ With all that I’ve done wrong/ I must’ ave done somethin’ right/ To deserve her love every morning and butterfly kisses at night.[iv]

Emily in her wedding gown

A new place in my heart

Knowing “Butterfly Kisses” the way I have throughout my life, I never saw it more than an unnecessarily sentimental ballad. Yet, that didn’t stop me from crying during Emily’s dance with her father at her wedding. Call me conventional and unoriginal, but I now have a soft and heartwarming memory of Carlisle’s “Butterfly Kisses,” one that will stay with me for a long time.

[i] Butterfly Kisses (The Song). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_Kisses_%28song%29. Accessed 2011, Jul 24.

[ii] Butterfly Kisses Chords by Bob Carlil @ Ultimate-Guitar.com. <http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/b/bob_carliles/butterfly_kisses_crd.htm&gt; Accessed 2011, Jul 24.

[iii] Butterfly Kisses Chords by Bob Carlil @ Ultimate-Guitar.com. <http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/b/bob_carliles/butterfly_kisses_crd.htm&gt; Accessed 2011, Jul 24.

[iv] Butterfly Kisses Chords by Bob Carlil @ Ultimate-Guitar.com. <http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/b/bob_carliles/butterfly_kisses_crd.htm&gt; Accessed 2011, Jul 24.


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