Saturday, March 6, 2010

Learning To Fly

Learning To Fly 4:51
     (written by Gilmour, Moore, Ezrin, Carin)

Into the distance, a ribbon of black
Stretched to the point of no turning back
A flight of fancy on a windswept field
Standing alone, my senses reeled
Fatal attraction is holding me fast
How can I escape this irresistible grasp?
Can't keep my eyes from the circling sky
Tongue tied and twisted
Just an earth-bound misfit, I

Ice is forming on the tips of my wings
Unheeded warnings
I thought I thought of everything
No navigator to find my way home
Unladen, empty and turned to stone

A soul in tension that's learning to fly
Condition grounded, but determined to try
Can't keep my eyes from the circling skies ...from the circling sky
Tongue tied and twisted
Just an earth-bound misfit, I

Mixture on, set.
Mixtures, rich.
Flaps, set, 10 degrees... gauges consumption, check.
Reset flaps
... recheck... altimeters, check those... altimeter on.
Strobes on.
... get ready for departure....for take off, winds blowing at 10 knots....break...

Above the planet on a wing and a prayer
My grubby halo, a vapor trail in the empty air
Across the clouds, I see my shadow fly
Out of the corner of my watering eye
A dream unthreatened by the morning light
Could blow this soul
Right through the roof of the night

There's no sensation to compare with this
Suspended animation, a state of bliss
Can't keep my mind from the circling sky
Tongue tied and twisted
Just an earth-bound misfit, I

Spoken words: Nick Mason and Control Tower

Probably the first song to be recorded for the album in 1986, the original ideas for it came from Jon Carin, keyboardist, in a jam session with Dave after Live Aid, which they both participated in.

Dave Gilmour: "This was right after Live Aid, to be exact... I got Jon round to my home studio... to do some stuff with me. I had to go down to the station to pick someone up. When I got back, he'd done this and so we pinched a bit of it. Simple." [TAP 60]

To be more exact, Jon had simply come up with the chord progression and was somewhat surprised to be given a credit for it — especially because he had forgotten he'd done it!
Jon Carin: "...just shows you what kind of a guy David is." [TAP 44]

As well as Jon, Bob Ezrin helped to write this song, and Anthony Moore lent a hand on the lyrical side. Moore had been asked to help out on the album because Dave didn't feel that lyrics were his strong point (although songs like Sorrow would, to some extent, prove him wrong). Dave talked about the inspiration that developed the lyrics and feel of the song.

Dave Gilmour: "[It was inspired] by the fact that several mornings Anthony would be there hard at work, and I wouldn't show up. I'd call up and tell someone and they'd say, 'Dave's not coming in today 'cause he's learning to fly.' [That was] the starting point [for] something a bit wider..." [Schaffner 289 and Shine On 97]

Nick Mason: "The first demo that Dave gave me had the Learning to Fly idea, it had the Dogs of War idea;everything was potentially a good track and that's what the album launched from. Learning to Fly actually started out more spiritually uplifting than it sounded when it was finished. I like it because every time I hear it, I hear my own voice doing this take-off." [TAP 44]

Nick refers to his pre-flight check and conversation with the control tower which had be heard in a garbled form in the middle section of the song.

Signs of Life
Learning to Fly
Dogs of War, The
One Slip
On the Turning Away
Yet Another Movie
Round and Around
New Machine Part 1, A
Terminal Frost
New Machine Part 2, A


  1. The phrase "tongue tied and twisted" may actually be the phrase "Turn, Time, and Twist It" or at least is a clear pun on this phrase, which is an instrument pilot's mnemonic used in a holding pattern, a maneuver which instrument rated pilots must demonstrate proficiency. Phrases such as "ice is forming on the tip of my wing", "across the clouds I see my shadow fly", and "can't keep my eyes from the circling sky" all refer to events that happen to experienced instrument pilots.

  2. tmbates316@gmail.comFebruary 25, 2017 at 4:46 AM

    Parts of this song WERE WRITTEN from watching, The Spirit of St. LOUIS with Jimmy Stewart, in the movie, he flys on a wing and a prayer... st. Christopher cross is with him,has no navigator,it broke,so he said no turning back now,, ,ice forming on the wings,plane is stuck circling in sky like a heavy stone,He said in the movie...I thought I'd thought of everything,he couldnt keep his eyes from watering as he was stuck in a circle,he followed his shadow on the ground, state of bliss refers to the people carrying him from the airfield once he landed in paris. At one point in the flight he said he was toungue tied and twisted. WATCH THE MOVIE AND SEE FOR YOURSELF, EVERYTHING IN THE SONG HAPPENS IN THIS MOVIE.