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 Lyrics as written by Barry Jenkins Barrie Ernest Jenkins

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Sky Pilot song meanings
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13 Comments

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  • +3
    General Comment

    Now 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 13, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Anti-war song, surely!

    Oceanic Gazeon May 25, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This 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 24, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    The 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 Comment

    btw 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 Comment

    kfe2, 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
    Song Meaning

    Perhaps 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 Comment

    This song was an indictment of Timothy Leary's Alternatives to Violence was published in August, 1968 anti-war essay that implied the violent anti-war groups like the SDS, Yippies, SLA, Weather Underground and other violent factions were really no different from Robert McNamara, General Westmorland and the entire US US defense induxtry. The psychedelic musical effects in the song as the words about a spiritual leader (as Timothy Leary was, in spades at that point in history) implied that his LSD usage and suggestion the national youth movement should just drop acid and drop out of the fight was a taunt at non-violent means to alter the behavior of a government that was supposed to listen to We The People...

    dustup224on March 23, 2020   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    As 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
  • 0
    General Comment

    This song is a great. I remember it being uplifting even though it about death and war. It is about a Sky Pilot or chaplain that has preach the word of God to men about to go into battle. It has the background sounds of air battle, but it could be any combat where one could die. Soldiers are about to go into battle for their country and may not return. Thus, the Sky Pilot gives them his blessings, encouragement, and prays that they return. However, many will not. All he can do is encourage them and tell them God is with them. However, this does not stop the people from experiencing the horrors of war. It's anti-war, surely. Thus, what does it mean? With war, we and the Sky Pilot never reach the sky or God. This is not what God meant for heaven and peace to be. It is the opposite and we have to live through the experience of sin and the fallen world.

    harrycallahanon August 20, 2019   Link

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