Not because it’s terribly sad, but because it sets a powerfully pensive scene, a space for dreaming and reflection. This song asks for that with its honest exploration of the unseen challenges of music and fame.
I am taken back to the alternative rock era with this song, to when every song in this genre made me feel it was fall. Think 2000s Alternative Rock: GooGoo Dolls, Counting Crows, Howie Day. Yet, it also reminds me of Tom Petty with its anthemic message. A welcome nostalgia sets in with Dave Tamkin’s steady voice and pleasant twang.
But from the beginning, the reminiscent quality of his tone is contrasted by the unique production of this song. It starts with a boosted synth and a repetitious strum of the guitar. He sets a fast pace with the addition of a soft beat, recorded to imitate the beat of a butterfly wing. Then, he enters, honestly and powerfully,
I was given wings as young as I can imagine,
crossing streets, running down alleys,
building dreams on broken strings and napkins,
driving through the night to find my love.
His storytelling abilities are already highlighted with these lines. I see a young boy with an early start to achieve his aspirations. It is fast paced and incredible. The song reflects this with the snare and cymbal hits. He has found his stride.
The song grows as he does. There is the expression of the unforeseen difficulties of being on the road, always performing, trying to be authentic and successful. I can hear it in the joy and ache of his voice. The instruments unify to present the chorus:
Butterflies, Butterflies, I can hear them scream.
Windshield, crime scene, running down this dream.
Wildflowers growing, bleeding orange.
I learned to fly just to find my way home.
To be honest, it’s kind of a horrifying image, but I am sure Tamkin meant to do that. Not to horrify, but to shock with the tragedy, to explain with only an image. He feels the hurt of these butterflies migrating home. He understands that in his reaching for his dreams he has crushed others. The peak is high, but there is always a downside.
The roadtrip of “Bleeding Orange” concludes with some harmonies, a final chorus, and the tick of a clock. I am left reflecting on this song’s beautiful discovery of the pain of dreams. The honest lyrics, intricate production, and organically harmonious sound of Tamkin’s voice make the song resonate and rock.
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