THE WINGS THAT FLY US HOME - John Denver - YouTube

About the song

John Denver’s The Wings That Fly Us Home. Now that’s a song that takes you on a journey, both literal and metaphorical. Denver, a true titan of folk music, was known for his odes to nature, love, and the human spirit. The Wings That Fly Us Home, nestled amongst his vast catalogue of hits, stands out as a contemplative piece that explores themes of brotherhood, faith, and the enduring power of the human spirit.

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Released in 1971 on the album Poems, Prayers & Promises, the song arrived at a pivotal moment in American history. The Vietnam War raged on, the counterculture movement simmered with dissent, and a nation grappled with social and political upheaval. The Wings That Fly Us Home offered a poignant counterpoint, a beacon of hope amidst the turmoil.

The song opens with a seemingly simple image: “Just a pebble the found way to shine is a hero.” Denver, a master storyteller, uses this unassuming metaphor to introduce the concept of heroism residing in the most unexpected places.

This sets the stage for the narrative that unfolds – a tale of comradeship forged in hardship. The lyrics paint a picture of two brothers-in-arms, their bond strengthened by shared experiences, perhaps on a distant battlefield. The imagery of being “saved from an arrow” and laid “in a grave” evokes a sense of vulnerability and the ever-present threat of mortality.

However, the song quickly pivots from the darkness to the light. The line “Were we brothers on the journey?” underscores the enduring nature of their connection. The survivor remembers the lessons learned, the courage they found in each other, “did you teach me how to run?” This shared experience transcends the physical realm, becoming a source of strength “when you find yourself alone.”

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The second verse takes a more spiritual turn. Denver speaks of “the spirit” that “fills the darkness of the heavens” and “lives within a star too far to dream.” This celestial imagery evokes a sense of a higher power, a universal force that connects all living things. The concept of “brotherhood” expands beyond the two soldiers to encompass “creatures,” the “father,” and the “son.” It’s a beautiful reminder of our interconnectedness, a sentiment that resonates deeply in times of strife.

The Wings That Fly Us Home is not merely a nostalgic ballad; it’s a call to action. The soaring chorus, a hallmark of Denver’s music, urges the listener to “take my hand now, to remember when you find yourself alone you’re never ever alone.” This powerful message of unity and hope transcends generations. It’s a reminder that even in the darkest of times, the human spirit can find solace in connection, faith, and the enduring power of love.

So, as you settle in to listen to The Wings That Fly Us Home, take a moment to appreciate the layers woven into this seemingly simple song. It’s a testament to John Denver’s artistry, his ability to capture the complexities of the human experience with a melody that lingers long after the last note fades.

Video

Lyrics

“The Wings That Fly Us Home”

There are many ways of being in the circle we call life.
A wise man seeks an answer, burns his candle through the night.
Is a jewel just a pebble that found a way to shine?
Is a hero’s blood more righteous than a hobo’s sip of wine?

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Did I speak to you one morning on some distant world away?
Did you save me from an arrow? Did you lay me in a grave?
Were we brothers on a journey? Did you teach me how to run?
Were we broken by the waters? Did I lie you in the sun?I dreamed you were a prophet in a meadow, I dreamed I was a mountain in the wind.
I dreamed you knelt and touched me with a flower, I awoke with this: a flower in my hand.

I know that love is seeing all the infinite in one.
In the brotherhood of creatures, through the Father, through the Son.
The vision of your goodness will sustain me through the cold.
Take my hand now to remember when you find yourself alone: you are never alone.

And the spirit fills the darkness of the heavens. It fills the endless yearning of the soul.
It lives within a star too far to dream of. It lives within each part and is the whole:
it’s the fire and the wings that fly us home, fly us home, fly us home.