Harlem Butterfly

Composer and Lyricist Johnny Mercer
Year Written 1956
About Harlem Butterfly
“Harlem Butterfly” is one of the few songs where Johnny Mercer wrote the music as well the lyrics (another instance is “I Wanna Be Around.”)


Harlem butterfly
The moon got in your eye
The night you were born

Harlem butterfly
You listened to the cry
Of some lonely horn

That combination
Left you a mark
That you’ll never, never lose

While you chase some will o’ the wisp
In the dark
Your heart keeps singing the blues

Oh, Harlem butterfly
The writing’s in the sky
You’ll come to no good

But I’m not blaming you
I’m certain I would do
The same if I could

But even though a candle
Burned at the ends
Can never last out the night

Harlem butterfly
It really makes a lovely light

Harlem butterfly

Session / Album Information


“Harlem Butterfly” was recorded on October 1, 1971 and released the following year on the album With Love. It was arranged by Robert Farnon.

Harlem Butterfly

Listen to Harlem Butterfly on Spotify. Tony Bennett · Song · 1972.

This recording released on:

  • 1972: Columbia LP 12″: KC 31460 — With Love
  • 1972: Columbia LP 12″: CBS-64849 — With Love (UK)
  • 2011: Disc #44 in The Tony Bennett Complete Collection (88697874602-JK43) With Love

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