Friday Five: Songs About Fireflies

Juli Thanki | January 29th, 2010

From Dolly’s “My Tennessee Mountain Home” to Miranda’s “Me and Charlie Talking,” fireflies are used as a signifier of country living and childlike innocence. Summer seems a long way off, but these five songs conjure up memories of countless July nights spent running around clutching a jar full of bugs.

  • The Believer5. “Fireflies” – Rhett Miller and Rachel Yamagata

    The Old 97’s frontman teams up with indie darling Yamagata on this vaguely Oedipal song about a failed relationship from The Believer. Miller sings “You look like my mother did when she was 19/Not afraid to die,” to which Rachel Yamagata responds “For the last time, I’m not your mother/And I was only 19, still a firefly.” Too bad fireflies only last for a night when you catch them. Less, if you forget to poke holes in the jar lid.

  • Dirt Track Date4. “Firefly” – Southern Culture on the Skids

    SCOTS’ Rick Miller sings about the need for fireflies to shine some light on a moonless night…and on the two gals he’s with. This is a song best heard in person, but keep an eye on the stage, lest you get pelted with some fried chicken.

  • My Sisters And Me3. “Chasing Lightning Bugs” – Gold Heart

    Virginia’s Gold sisters are a delightful up and coming teenage bluegrass act. This tune, from last year’s gem My Sisters and Me, has the girls reminiscing about an idyllic childhood spent barefoot in the backyard. Though they might be a little too young to be singing about life “twenty years ago,” this is a nice bluegrass song with sweet sisterly harmonies.

  • Bend In The Road2. “Fireflies” – Mark Stuart and the Bastard Sons

    Fireflies and corn liquor“: two fun uses for mason jars. As a bonus, Stuart throws a hard-luck, redneck woman into the mix on this rockin’ alt-country tune from 2009’s Bend in the Road.

  • Pieces Of Me1. “Fireflies” – Lori McKenna

    This folky ode to optimism is from McKenna’s 2001 album Pieces of Me. Four years later, Faith Hill recorded a version for her chart topping album Fireflies. Guess there’s something to that whole notion of believing in “fairytales and dreamers’ dreams like bedsheet sails,” especially if it earns you a giant wad of cash.

  1. David S
    January 29, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    There’s always “Me and Charlie Talkin”!

  2. David S
    January 29, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Oh wait, you mentioned that song in the introduction. Sorry.

  3. CMW
    January 29, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Hey, what about “My Tennessee Mountain Home”?!

    Oh. A typically wide-ranging list, Juli. Nice work.

  4. Brady Vercher
    January 29, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I can’t believe Faith Hill didn’t make the cut–she had an album titled Fireflies, for crying out loud!

  5. nm
    January 29, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Well, I was gonna mention Greg Trooper’s “Lightning Bug” but I see that’s not the direction the comments are going today.

  6. Mike K
    January 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    I enjoy hearing either of the Robison brothers sing, “Tonight.”

    “A kiss and a whisper in the back of my car,
    Collecting young girls just like fireflies in a jar…

  7. numberonecountryfan
    January 29, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Lightning bus ARE mentioned in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Fishin’ In The Dark!

  8. Sam G.
    January 29, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Best Firefly song? “The Ballad of Serenity.”

  9. Juli
    January 29, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Is that the first Joss Whedon reference we’ve had on the site? Well done, sir.

  10. Rick
    January 29, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Fireflies are a regional thing and references to them for folks that have never seen one are kind of meaningless. The closest I’ve come are the fake ones (LEDs suspended on a moving wire that flash) in the initial boat launch area of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride at Disneyland. When I think of summer time related insects its more like mosquitoes or gnats…

  11. nm
    January 29, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Where in the US are there no fireflies? (That’s a serious question.)

  12. stormy
    January 29, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Juli: If I haven’t referenced Buffy at some point I have been slacking.

    NM: I grew up in Eastern Oregon and did not see fireflies until I moved to Texas.

  13. nm
    January 29, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Stormy, that’s startling. I guess it shouldn’t be; I know the ecosystem’s different west of the Rockies. So you never got to see cats chasing fireflies? What an impoverished childhood!

  14. Chris N.
    January 29, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    ‘Serenity’ reference FTW.

  15. Trailer
    January 29, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    It’s from another genre, but I’m glad there’s been no mention of Owl City’s “Fireflies”… oops! There it was. Godawful song.

  16. Dan E.
    January 30, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Trailer: Now that you’ve mentioned the song, my favorite firefly song is “Fireflies” by Owl City. I was waiting for someone to talk about it, and you were the one Trailer. It’s a great song!

  17. TheBeachHead
    January 30, 2010 at 2:13 am

    I will always remember the song “Fireflies” as the song that moved a 40 something year old woman to tears next to me at a Tim and Faith concert about five years ago. Beautiful song…

  18. stormy
    January 30, 2010 at 9:29 am

    NM: What’s really weird is that mom remembers them from her chilhood in Idaho.

  19. Nicolas
    January 30, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Rick: “Fireflies are a regional thing and references to them for folks that have never seen one are kind of meaningless.”

    I don’t know about you, but never having been to a rodeo, doesn’t make for a wasted country song – I enjoy it all the same

    Anyways, I love “Me and Charlie Talking” =) Such a cute song

  20. nm
    January 30, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Yeah, but they just went to Idaho to be off the grid.

  21. Felipe
    January 30, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    First song that came to mind was McKenna’s ‘Fireflies’. Second was Sarah Buxton’s ‘Innocence’ for the line “There was butterflies in my stomach and fireflies in the air”

  22. Matt B.
    January 30, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Fireflies are indeed regional. Seems to me that they don’t really get west of the rocky mountain range.

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