Lyric Breakdown: Butterflies by Lana Del Rey

We’re sippin’ cocktails, looking down upon the riot

  • By being chilled out “looking down upon the riot”, they are on the fringe of society, most likely linking to Lana’s frequently mentioned couple who are seeking the American Dream; the cocktails indicate they are mature adults who have probably been with each other for a long time, which the high school yard lyric indicates

You whisper “Baby, love the way you look tonight

I wanna save you, save you from the world outside.“

  • He wants to protect her and genuinely cares for her, particularly when there’s “riot(s)” (general life chaos)

I know it seems you’re all I wanted and much more

But then, to tell the truth, I’ve been through this before

  • Lana undeniably has fallen hard for men before, and has had experiences where she has been in relationships that she feels will last forever but they never work out; she is doubtful about this person

They say “I’ll save you, save you”, but they never do

  • From past experiences she knows she may be let down; this guy is saying the same things she’s heard before and she mistrusts the promises; her concern throughout the song comes from trying to protect herself

I think you know I want to believe you

But in my heart, I know that I’ll leave you

  • She genuinely cares for him but she knows she will eventually fall into the pattern again; the heart is where our desires are, and deep down she cares for herself more than any man, thus protecting herself

It’s sort of sad how instincts deceive you, or does it please you?

  • It could be the other way round but I understand it as her instincts telling her she loves him and wants to be with him, yet it’s a deception (a response to her subconscious attractions); she is confused and isn’t sure if the “instinct(s)” of wanting him are deceptive or something to let herself feel good about (”please you”)

Everything you say makes me wanna stay

But everything you done makes me wanna run, run, run

  • He knows how to win her over with promises and words but he has done things that she can’t ignore; it opposes the dreamy “I wanna run, run, run away” from Prom Song Gone Wrong and has a darker element of desperation for escape; she is saying that actions speak louder than words

I made the decision that I can’t be with you

  • She’s using her head now as well as her heart, doing the right thing to protect herself

Walking out the door but I already miss you

Thinking about how I used to kiss you

  • As soon as she’s away from him she wants him once again; she still has the memories

I-I’m getting butterflies, I-I’m getting butterflies

  • Usually the first signs of a crush are butterflies in the stomach, so she either still has the same feelings as when she first met him, hence it’s still intense to her, or it’s a fresh relationship that she is already wanting to end

I made the decision that I’m too good for you

  • Lana knows that she deserves better (based on “everything [he’s] done)

Then I see you’re calling, it’s hard to ignore you

Try to be strong, but babe, I adore you

  • She can’t resist him and goes dreamy just thinking of him (hence the pet name being used and her breathless voice)

I-I’m getting butterflies, I-I’m getting butterflies

  • The stuttering once again indicates the intense feelings that comes from a serious attraction/romance or a new, exciting relationship

Well back in high school, in the yard, we used to fight

  • She’s remembering all the times they had together and the frequent arguments – not a good sign, yet could show it’s a petty teenage romance and the song is about her confused feelings at such a young age

But you would sneak in through my window every night

  • The typical move of the guy coming to the girl like a modern day Romeo

“I wanna take you, take you to the world outside.”

Well, I assume it’s what I wanted at the time

  • Lana wasn’t sure if she really wanted to sneak out to “the world outside” with him or even if she wanted to be with him, but she ended up doing it anyway because she was interested in him

But your eyes were like a constant warning sign

  • Eyes are the windows of the soul; she could tell he wasn’t a good guy really; warning signs are usually bright in colour too so perhaps it’s a comment on his burning gaze

“I wanna take you, take you,” and I didn’t mind

  • He’s still feeding her lines and tempting her, but Lana didn’t really mind it even if she wasn’t sure

And even though I didn’t believe you

You had a smile so easy to see through

  • She had her doubts but she could tell he genuinely liked her through his “easy to see through” smile which made her mind up for her

I know a little part of me will always needs you

Try to reach you, try to please you

  • She is dependent on him, in a way, or will always need him in her life, and seems to want to try to “please him” all the time to make him happy

PRE – CHORUS AND CHORUS

I know, I know, I know, we aren’t good together

  • Lana is aware that the relationship doesn’t work and isn’t perfect, and she sounds like she has told people a million times that she knows so – she is repeating the “I know” tiredly

I can’t let go, I’m sure that we should be forever

I look around, there’s no one above you

  • No one is as great as him and no matter what else she finds it won’t be the same

I think you know that I’ll always love you

And baby, I’m bad too, it’s not just you

  • They “aren’t good together” because neither side is doing the best they can for either of them; she has her own flaws too; it possibly started off all the “fights” in high school

But I can’t wait forever to trust you

  • Lana can’t wait for him to change, as it sounds like he doesn’t make any positive differences for her; he most likely tells her he will but never goes through with it; Lana needs to feel secure

CHORUS

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