Now, the words had all been spoken
And somehow the feeling still wasn't right.
And still we continued on through the night.
Tracing our steps from the beginning
Until they vanished into the air
Trying to understand how our lives had led us there

Looking hard into your eyes
There was nobody I'd ever known
Such an empty surprise to feel so alone.

Now for me some words come easy
But I know that they don't mean that much
Compared with the things that are said when lovers touch
You never knew what I loved in you
I don't know what you loved in me
Maybe the picture of somebody you were hoping I might be

Awake again I can't pretend that I know I'm alone
And close to the end of the feeling we've known

How long have I been sleeping
How long have I been drifting alone through the night
How long have I been dreaming I could make it right
If I closed my eyes and tried with all my might
To be the one you'll need

Awake again I can't pretend and I know I'm alone
And close to the end of the feeling we've known

How long have I been sleeping
How long have I been drifting alone through the night
How long have I been running for that morning flight
Through the whispered promises and the changing light
Of the bed where we both lie
Late for the sky

Lyrics submitted by Irishred516, edited by DavidPintilie

Late for the Sky song meanings
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  • +8
    General Comment
    This is Jackson's masterpiece. It is one of the most beautifully and touchingly heartbroken songs ever written by anyone. This is an exquisitely crafted song. I love the juxtapositions of - night / morning - awake / sleeping - closed eyes / dreaming - drifting / running - spoken words / whispered promises - steps from the beginning / close to the end - hard into your eyes / some words come easy - whispered promises / where we both lie - still wasn't right / changing light - continued through the night / running for that morning flight - bed / sky - vanished into the air / late for the sky and I love the function of this progression: And still we continued on . . . Awake again . . . How long have I been sleeping? How long have I been drifting . . . How long have I been dreaming . . . How long have I been running . . . For all of its literary technique, it remains eternally fresh. I'll add an additional nod to David's slide guitar which is glorious.
    artmavenon July 02, 2006   Link
  • +5
    General Comment
    I have always loved the line "Of the bed where we both lie" where the word "lie", of course, has two meanings. That line reminds me of Dylan at his best.
    itjustmeon October 17, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General Comment
    For an interesting comparison, listen to the song by Jackson's good friend, the late great Warren Zevon, Hasten Down the Wind. Warren was a little more concise than Jackson was, but no less eloquent a songwriter, and Hasten Down the Wind is a great companion piece about the painful end of a relationship where the parties just drift apart and can't recapture what they had, but can't figure out why it isn't working any more. And if you really want to get the emotion in the song, go to and go to the Zevon archive and listen to the version in the 1976 WMMR radio show interview where he sits at a piano and plays solo.
    jswjron January 15, 2014   Link
  • +2
    General Comment
    I first heard Late for the Sky in 1974. 33 years and at least 6000 listenings later this piece still kicks my ass. However, despite hours and hours of disection and interpretation and consideration, I still have not gotten my head around the phrase, "Late for the Sky" What the heck? Sky Blue Sky Black Jesus in the Sky.... But Late for the Sky? Any ideas?
    BRUCErulzon February 24, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Comment
    I really love the title Late For The Sky. To me it has two meanings: 1) Late to take off to the sky (i.e. "for"= destination as in the plane for Rio) 2) Late FOR the sky- as in, the sky is late in its changing Both ways fit for the song. Pure brilliance.
    Detsub1494on June 14, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    This is such an incredible song, that I agree with the above poster who can't believe nobody else has placed a comment. Staying too long in a relationship, knowing it's essentially over, not knowing why when in your head you have the answers, but just can't bring yourself to leave. The song literally aches with the relaization that it's OVER and all that's left is to admit it out loud and get on with it. Sometimes the pain of ending a relationship is harder that staying in one that isn't working and feeling you failed at something you really tried at and wanted to work. You ask yourself, "how did this happen and how did it come to this" (How long have I been sleeping? - that i didn't notice the disintergration of my relationship...) That's what this song has always meant to me. It's a haunting tune as well. Fantastic. Jackson at his best.
    LolaBaton October 19, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    "Looking hard into your eyes There was nobody I'd ever known Such an empty suprise To feel so alone." "Awake again, I can't pretend That I know I'm alone, And close to the end" This is amazing song writing! This song is awe inspiring.
    Adored_Pumpkinheadon June 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    I too have loved this song since the 70's along with all of the other Jackson Browne offerings from that period, yes even "Lawyers in Love". The title has always conjured up an image of an airplane leaving, so I guess I have to agree with makebusy7 in this. What amazes me most is that although I savor Browne's double meanings, I never tumbled the double meaning of "in the bed where we both lie". What a great website this is for introspection.
    gregoriogalleryon January 12, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    This song was one of my best friend's favorite songs. Taxi Driver was also one of his favorite movies. He decided to take his own life on march 6th 2008. So what does this song mean to me?......Him, my best friend.
    diablo0072kon March 08, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    Rolling Stone's original review of the album says it all to me:…
    mmckeaneyon May 25, 2008   Link

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