Song Lyric Sunday – Sky Pilot

The prompt from Jim:

This week we have the weather-related prompts of Breeze/Cloud/Sky/Wind and the song that you choose must contain one of these prompt words in either the title or the lyrics.

What a great week for prompts. I have great songs for every prompt word and if others do not write about them, perhaps I will later in the week. (I do hope they get selected with a good write-up,)

“Sky Pilot” was released in the UK in January of 1968. Written and recorded by Eric Burdon & the Animals. It was released in the US in May 1968.

The song is about a military chaplain (Sky Pilot) who blesses the troops then sends them off to war. The lyrics are up to interpretation. Some see it as an anti-war protest song (specifically the Vietnam war)while some see it as a man of faith wrestling with what he tells these young men versus the reality that awaits them.

The single covered both sides of the 45 due to its length which somewhat hampered it’s air time. Even so song reached #14 in the U.S.

Having lived during the Vietnam war and seeing my classmates drafted and ultimately losing one of the kindest people I have ever known to the war, has always gutted me. This song brings back all those chaotic emotions of the innocence lost in another needless war.

“Sky Pilot”
Lyrics from

He blesses the boys as they stand in line
The smell of gun grease and the bayonets they shine
He’s there to help them all that he can
To make them feel wanted he’s a good holy man

Sky pilot… pilot
How high can you fly
You’ll never, never, never reach the sky
He smiles at the young soldiers

Tells them its all right
He knows of their fear in the forthcoming fight
Soon there’ll be blood and many will die
Mothers and fathers back home they will cry

Sky pilot… pilot
How high can you fly
You’ll never, never, never reach the sky
He mumbles a prayer and it ends with a smile

The order is given
They move down the line
But he’s still behind and he’ll meditate
But it won’t stop the bleeding or ease the hate

As the young men move out into the battle zone
He feels good, with God you’re never alone
He feels tired and he lays on his bed
Hopes the men will find courage in the words that he said

Sky pilot… sky Pilot
How high can you fly
You’ll never, never, never reach the sky
You’re soldiers of God you must understand

The fate of your country is in your young hands
May God give you strength
Do your job real well
If it all was worth it

Only time it will tell
In the morning they return
With tears in their eyes
The stench of death drifts up to the skies

A soldier so ill looks at the sky pilot
Remembers the words
“Thou shalt not kill”
Sky pilot… pilot

How high can you fly
You never, never, never reach the sky

Song Lyric Sunday is hosted every Sunday by Jim Adams. If you would like to join in the fun, check out his blog for the rules and to take in all the other music posted by other bloggers.


32 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday – Sky Pilot”

  1. I always thought of this as an anti-war song at the time.
    I have to go with the obvious choice of the band Earth, Wind and Fire. One of my favourite American groups of all time.

    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This song was over seven minutes long with the A-side of the record being “Sky Pilot (Part One)” and B side Part Two so it did not get much radio airplay but I always liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. War is unfortunate but if it weren’t for all the brave men and women who serve, our world would have been overtaken a long time ago by tyrants and terrorists. Vietnam was needless, but the troops didn’t deserve the reception once they returned home, if they returned. I’m sorry you lost a friend. Thanks for sharing this today! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree on all points. I only wish we could come together globally, but we are so entrenched in power and hate I know it will not happen in my lifetime.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This comes from a time where I missed a lot of music as I was in the Middle East working ridiculous shift patterns and did little but work and sleep. Although I have heard it before it’s not one I know well. I note they bring in the pipes at about 4 minutes, probably familiar in battle for the British but not so much in Vietnam!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They used a lot of what they termed ‘borrowed sounds’ for this song. I would agree with your observation. Those who serve in wartime feel this song deeply. So many wars, and still we move following the same patterns. Hopefully there will be peace someday.

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  5. We had a DJ in Chicago that would play an extended oldie at 10 PM every night, and this came up on a regular basis. He mentioned that The Animals would do the whole song in concert, complete with the sound effects. I guess they had film of the air battles and of the pipe band playing (“All The Blue Bonnets Are Over The Border” is the tune), and it was quite a sight to see. Good to hear this one – all of it – again!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I seemed to have missed this one at the time though I can hear the music in my memory. I had never read the lyrics before and am moved by them. I also lost a very gentle soul to the trauma of that war. He made it through, came home and killed himself. I think of him still.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Elizabeth, it was such a sad time and so many young people forever changed. Our returning veterans were treated so badly. I am so sad to read you lost someone to the horrible trauma surrounding that war.

      Liked by 1 person

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