I’m going way back for this song. Off of his first album, Skyline Pigeon still reigns as one of my favorites. Can you believe this song is over 40 years old? The lyrics are still beautiful to this day, as is the melody.
Turn me loose from your hands
Let me fly to distant lands
Over green fields, trees and mountains
Flowers and forest fountains
Home along the lanes of the skyway
The theme of imprisonment and yearning for freedom is a recurring one for Bernie. And never was this theme portrayed with such poignancy and artistry. There’s an innocence and purity to the lyrics, vocals and instrumentation.
For just a Skyline Pigeon
Dreaming of the open
Waiting for the day
He can spread his wings
And fly away again
Fly away skyline pigeon fly
Towards the dreams
You’ve left so very far behind
I feel the need to include all of the lyrics, they are so beautiful, but I’ll refrain. Just one more stanza I want to mention:
But most of all please free me
From this aching metal ring
And open out this cage towards the sun
Literally, you can take the metal ring as the restraint that’s keeping the bird in its cage – but I’ve also thought of it as a metaphor for a broken marriage as well.
The song was originally recorded in 1969 and re-recorded in 1972. I prefer the original recording, because it is only Elton – vocals, organ and harpsichord. I think that lends to the poignancy.
Of course, I can’t hear this song without thinking about Ryan White, who Elton credits with saving his life. It’s hard to believe his funeral was in 1990. What a beautiful sentiment for a young man who should be an inspiration to all of us.
Skyline Pigeon (Empty Sky, 1969)