Few things go together like drugs and rock-and-roll, and because of that, there is no shortage of material when selecting the ten best flying rock songs of all time. Not that all of these songs are drug-related—most of them seen to innocently tell of actual air flight. Or do they?
- "Back in the USSR" by The Beatles. “Flew in from Miami Beach, BOAC, didn’t get to bed last night.” So opens the top entry on our list of ten best flying rock songs. The opening track of the “White Album” is a rousing parody of the Beach Boys style of all-American music that dominated the pop charts of the early-to-mid-‘60s.
- "Leaving on a Jet Plane" by Peter, Paul and Mary. Penned by John Denver, this one made number one for folk group Peter, Paul and Mary. One of the best flying songs of all time, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” describes the sadness of having to leave that special someone: “Already I’m so lonesome I could cry,” “Oh babe, I hate to go.”
- "The Letter" by The Box Tops. A number one hit for the Box Tops and later covered by Joe Cocker, “The Letter” is next on our list of the ten best flying rock songs of all time. Opening with the line “Gimme a ticket for an airplane,” the song tells of a man’s desperate desire to return home “’cause my baby just wrote me a letter.”
- "Jet Airliner" by The Steve Miller Band. Written by Paul Pena, The Steve Miller Band flew this one to the top of the charts and never looked back. In “Jet Airliner,” Miller tells of the pain of having to leave home and go out on the road to try to make something of himself—something he has to do because “you got to go through hell before you get to heaven.”
- "Time for Me to Fly" by REO Speedwagon. Next on our list of great flying songs is a tune written and sung by Kevin Cronin. A big hit for REO Speedwagon, “Time for Me to Fly” tells of the frustration of being in a one-sided relationship: “I make you laugh and you make me cry, I believe it’s time for me to fly.”
- "Learning to Fly" by Pink Floyd. Is it about flying an airplane? Is it about drugs? If you’ve ever been “tongue-tied and twisted, just an Earth-bound misfit,” you probably know what this Pink Floyd tune means. Whatever its meaning, “Learning to Fly” earns a spot on our list of the ten best flying rock songs of all time.
- "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The one everyone waits for at Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts, “Freebird” is next on our list of the best flying rock songs of all time. Not literally about flying, this song is an anthem for anyone who has ever had the urge to escape the ties that bind and fly free.
- "Up, Up and Away" by The 5th Dimension. Written by Jimmy Webb, the next tune on our list of flying songs is about taking a ride in a “beautiful balloon.” The 5th Dimension climbed on board and rode “Up, Up and Away” right up the charts. By the way, the beautiful balloon? Probably drugs.
- "Black Bird" by The Beatles. Another one from the “White Album,” the black bird Paul McCartney implores to “take these broken wings and learn to fly” represents America’s black community. Crazy Charles Manson used this song—among other “White Album” cuts—to encourage his followers to commit murder in attempts to start a race war.
- "Space Oddity" by David Bowie. What is a list of the best flying rock songs without one about spaceflight? This David Bowie classic follows the exploits of astronaut Major Tom who is “sitting in a tin can.” Sadly, Ground Control loses contact with Tom while he’s walking in space and we are left wondering about his fate.
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