"Sky Pilot" as written by Barry Jenkins, Danny Mcculloch, Eric Victor Burdon, Johnny Weider and Vic Briggs....
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,
Sky pilot,
How high can you fly?
You'll never, never, never reach the sky.

He smiles at the young soldiers
Tells them it's 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,
Sky 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'll stay 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,
Sky pilot,
How high can you fly?
You'll never, never, never reach the sky.


Lyrics submitted by magicnudiesuit

"Sky Pilot" as written by Barry Jenkins, Danny Mcculloch, Eric Victor Burdon, Johnny Weider, Vic Briggs

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., CARLIN AMERICA INC

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Sky Pilot song meanings
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11 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentNow in Sept. 2008, when I hear this song I can't help but think of Presidential Candidate John McCain (a former Vietnam War pilot)!!!

    I remember hearing this song on the radio when I was a kid and the Vietnam War was still on. Yes, I think it's an anti-war song, but it also pokes fun at those who feel that God leads America into battle. My only defense for those who may think that way is that the Bible (in the original Hebrew) clearly says "Thou shalt not MURDER". Killing to defend one's self, or to defend one's nation from attack is not only permitted, but is sometimes actually commanded by God in the Bible. So The Animals anti-war "bullet" has missed the mark! Oh, well... it's still a fun song to listen to!
    RayManon September 12, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnti-war song, surely!
    Oceanic Gazeon May 25, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentbtw the song is done in the first person form of the air force chaplain giving his blessings to the pilots.
    kfe2on February 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is one of my favorite songs of all time. As was mentioned before, a Sky Pilot is a chaplain. This is not only an anti-war song, but also sort of an anti-religion song. Or at least singing against the role of religion in wars. The sky pilot is evoking images of eternal reward and justice in the young soldier's minds so they will go out and kill. Then one of the soldiers sees the hypocrisy in this (remembers the words “thou shalt not kill”). Burdon is really taking a shot at either the chaplain or religion in general with the statement “you never reach the sky.” Basically saying your just a mortal person like the rest of us no matter holy/mighty you think you are.
    Nicodemus27on February 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentkfe2, all due respect, this is not an air force chaplain.
    Air force pilots do not carry bayonets.
    Nicodemus, are you sure it's anti-war?
    Seems that way to me, but i think the whole thing is an open ended question.
    I think sky pilot is God.
    That's who he (The metaphorical soldier) is asking about 'thou shalt not kill'.
    The whole thing is a question, a commentary.
    geistmoshon August 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe soilder realizes that God doesnt want us to murder, so the Sky Pilot is a hypocrite and mabeye by never reaching the sky, it could have a double meaning where he never actually has to do any of the dangerous work, and he will never reach heaven.
    BOBOBOon January 10, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe war in question is usually assumed to be the Vietnam War, though the bagpipes and apparent sounds of a dive bomber in the interlude, taken with the UK nationality of the artists, may suggest WWII.
    ohmson October 20, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe term “Sky Pilot” is what the slang name for the chaplain in all English speaking countries military services The song is about the hypocrisy of monotheistic religions like Christianity and their support for war and killing. It came out in 68 during the Vietnam war but was about religion in war in general. Christianly of course, in its modern form anyway, which was invented by the Romans in around the 3rd century, is about social control, and its main aim is to scare people into submission with fantasies about having the things in death that they cant have now, or suffering in a mythical place called hell if they do not tow the line in life. Its role is essentially to maintain systems of inequality and has been used very effectively in pre-capitalist agrarian societies and in our socio-economic system of capitalism today which works by having a very small amount of the population owning around 80-90 per cent of the capital. The role of the ‘right’ in politics is also to maintain these systems of inequality, which is of course why religion is associated with the political right in all Western countries. In pre-capitalist society, the Church was very closely associated with kings or Queens for the same reason and a new king would always go through a ceremony in which the church would make it clear that his word was God’s word.. The rulers of a particular society use religion to maintain order and stop the people rising up against unfair conditions, and yet when it suits the leaders of these societies and they want to go to war, they claim it to be something being done in the name of God. Read a few history books and see how the Sky Pilots on the Western Front in WW1 would bless the guns before sending their solders into battle. Rayman, I’m sorry, but I hardly think they “missed the bullet” with this song. If you analyse its lyrics, its pretty well spot on. Christian soldiers have, apparently, with their Gods blessing, made war on, and killed more innocent people throughout history than all the other religions combined. You can’t really argue that the Vietnam war was about American, Australian, NZ etc soldiers killing to protect their countries or themselves, considering it was a civil war which had absolutely nothing to do with them…
    9erPaulon October 31, 2008   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningPerhaps the song is not so anti-war, as anti UNNECESSARY wars.

    That fate of your country is in your young hands
    may god give you streangth
    do your job real well
    if it was all worth it

    only time will tell



    Thats not the lyrics of an 'all war is always bad all the time' song. To me its a song that speaks more of making sure the times you fight are worth it. Whether the war was necessary "only time will tell".
    rocknmetalon October 20, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs others have noted, a "Sky Pilot" is a chaplain. I was an infantryman in Vietnam but a bit later than when this song came out. I would characterize it as not so much anti-war as anti-chaplain. The lyrics are painting the chaplain as someone who blesses the boys as they stand in line and sends THEM out to fight the war, while he smugly feels good about what he has done for them and then STAYS BEHIND - (He'll stay behind and he'll meditate). So, the message is, "Don't worry, Boys. God is on your side and He will protect you - alive or dead... Me? Oh I won't be going out there with you..."

    Yeah, thanks, a LOT, Chaplain! Sure, why don't you just stay there, 'in the rear, with the gear?' WE'LL go take care of the war.

    If our chaplain behaved like that, I'd have resented him, too. But he didn't. He spent quite a bit of time with us, either up on the Firebase or out on patrol. I'm saying that he WASN'T generally back in Chi Lai, the big base camp by the South China Sea, aka "the rear." He was out where the war was going on. A big salute to Chaplain Davidson, Americal Division, 196 LIB up in I Corps, 1971.
    ralwolkon April 28, 2014   Link

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