Writers and poets have always considered flying to be a mysterious and fascinating concept, but music may well be its most successful field. Let’s set aside for a moment Sinatra’s “Fly me to the Moon”, all of those songs about “your mind flying away”, “taking flight”, “soaring up in the air”, concepts dear to Italian singers Domenico Modugno or Lucio Battisti. Let’s also forget about the extra-terrestrial endeavours of David Bowie’s genius, who flew in space in the guise of Ziggy Stardust, sang about Major Tom in “Space Oddity” and asked whether there was “Life on Mars?” – true masterpieces that you’re bound to find on any given night as you flick through the TV channels.
Think instead about how many songs tell of aeroplanes.
Aeroplanes dividing and uniting.
The biggest hit in this department is “Leaving on a Jet Plane” written by John Denver in 1966, feeling desperate due to his imminent departure and making a romantic declaration of love to the partner waiting for him at home, while the taxi has just arrived.
What about Elton John’s plane, looking at the red tail lights heading for Spain, which “Daniel” says is the best place he’s ever seen? On the other end of the spectrum is “Flying to my Home”, in which Paul McCartney is coming back home to the woman of his life, just like Björk, who sings about her heart overcoming loneliness in the lovely “Aeroplane”.
Joni Mitchell flies at high altitude as well, with the folk hit “This Flight Tonight”, singing about shooting stars over Las Vegas through her unique guitar sound.
Led Zeppelin’s “Night Flight” goes down in history, not as one of the British band’s most famous songs, but full of pacifist meaning through lyrics that tell of a guy trying to escape military duty in every way possible.
More recently, music soars again towards the controversial with “Aeroplane Blues” by The Black Keys and the lighter “Flight #303” by Feist, a pop song that cheers you up with absurd rhymes about pilots, yellow hats and laundromats.