#ThrowbackThursday: “Learning To Fly”

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This #TBT is perhaps a little more abstract than just posting an old/silly/embarrassing picture of myself from my first Halloween/kindergarten concert/High school prom/Cancun club rager.

The Throwback part still very much applies though, since the song in question came out in 1991.

So, s’okay, right?

“Learning To Fly” by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

I’ve always loved this song, something about the way it opens with the sustained tinniness of the guitars, the purposeful yet gentle drums, and how Tom’s voice then wavers in, “Well I started out, down a dirty road”… it gives me chills.  It did even when it was first released.

When I was eleven.  Yes, I’ve aged myself there, haven’t I.

Sigh.

The music video is all sorts of random early-early 90’s black-and-white weirdness, which I’ve never too much cared for.


The lyrics, though.  It wasn’t until lately that I feel like I’ve really heard the lyrics…

According to Songfacts.com, Tom Petty wrote this song after seeing a pilot being interviewed on TV who said, the hardest part about his job wasn’t learning how to fly, but how to come down.

Some people think though, that he wrote it about heroin.  Others think it’s a general portrait of his life as an artist, how he struggled to get where he is/was, and how he’s aware that it an all be taken away.

I, however, have interpreted it on an entirely different level.

If you listen to the words, and close your eyes… in my opinion, maybe without knowing it, Tom wrote a beautiful and simple song, about Parenthood.

Well I started out down a dirty road
Started out all alone
And the sun went down as I crossed the hill
And the town lit up, the world got still

I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

Well the good ol’ days may not return
And the rocks might melt and the sea may burn

I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

Well some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I’ve started out for God knows where
I guess I’ll know when I get there

I’m learning to fly, around the clouds
But what goes up must come down

I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

That’s the beautiful thing about music, every song is open to so much interpretation.  So I know you might not hear what I’m hearing.

But…

All I know is, since the day I found out I was pregnant with Bee, life has been nothing but ups and downs.  The wind has changed, tossing me around and far, far away from the life I once knew.  Yet all the while, I’ve felt like I was flying, somehow.  Like this new me, this Mama Me, could take the knocks and fall from the sky, and though it hurts to come down, against all odds I continue to soar.

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