He could've tuned in, tuned in
But he tuned out
A bad time nothing could save him
Alone in a corridor waiting locked out
He got up outta there ran for hundreds of miles
He made it to the ocean, had a smoke in a tree
The wind rose up set him down on his knee

A wave came crashing like a fist to the jaw
Delivered him wings "hey look at me now"
Arms wide open with the sea as his floor
Oh power oh

He's flying
Whole, high wide, oh

He floated back down 'cause he wanted to share
His key to the locks on the chains he saw everywhere
But first he was stripped and then he was stabbed
By faceless men, well, fuckers
He still stands

And he still gives his love, he just gives it away
The love he receives is the love that is saved
And sometimes is seen a strange spot in the sky
A human being that was given to fly

Oh, oh
High flying
Oh, oh
He's flying
Oh, oh
Oh, oh
Oh, oh

Lyrics submitted by Trent, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"Given to Fly" as written by Mike Mccready Eddie Vedder

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Given to Fly song meanings
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  • +9
    General CommentI think "Given To Fly" is about a man who feels either supressed or depressed. He is able to conquer whatever holds him down and frees himself from the chains that bound him. He is now able to fully live and appreciate life. Because of his good fortune the man feels an obligation to show others how to overcome obstacles in their lives. From here I think the story parallels that of Jesus. As he teaches others, he is betrayed by jealous skeptics too cowardly to even show their faces. He is stripped and stabbed just like Jesus but returns again to those that truely love and believe in him.
    Matzy94on January 10, 2002   Link
  • +9
    General Commentid say a majority of eddies lyrics are autobiographical or at least rooted in his actual experiences (like alive). so, with that in mind, i definitely see this song being about eddie. 1st stanza: hes in a bad mood and no one can cheer him up, so he goes off to be by himself.("couldve tuned in....nothing could save him") to relax, he goes surfing, and it puts him in a better mood because hes kind of a private, solitary guy and just spending some time on his own does him some good. ("a wave came crashing...delivered him wings") i think the flying on the wave is meant to be taken both literally and symbolically. going out and acting free makes him feel free.

    2nd stanza: except that hes famous now so that feeling cant last. he cant just be himself because hes being watched and it makes him uncomfortable. ("faceless men"=crowds of people/media) overall, he can still be himself, but he does it subtly (instead of "flying" right in front of everyone, hes a "strange spot in the sky" far away)

    i can see how the jesus intrepretation would work in this one case, but youve got to look at all his work. no offense to anyone who interpreted the song that way (or to jesus for that matter), but eddie just doesnt write songs about jesus. there are a lot that are spiritual or philosophical, but religious? i cant think of any. for the most part id describe them as introspective or highly emotional. if it being about jesus is your personal intrepretation, i think its a really intriguing idea, but if you think thats what eddie meant, im going to have to disagree with you.
    PJ10on June 21, 2002   Link
  • +5
    General CommentClearly it is about Eddie..

    Think about it.

    "Alone in a corridor, waiting, locked out.
    He got up outta there ran for hundreds of miles."

    coming from a bad family Eddie moved from chicago to seattle to join Pearl jam, thats hundreds of miles.

    "Arms wide open with the sea as his floor."

    Reference to his surfing

    "But first he was stripped, and then he was stabbed by faceless men.Well fuckers, he still stands."

    About his trouble with the media and how he overcame it.

    "And sometimes is seen a strange spot in the sky.
    A human being that was given to fly."

    As the sea and sky are both blue on real clear days it's sometimes hard to tell the horizon, this, I think is another reference to eddies love of surfing.
    Action Ralfon October 12, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentEddie said of this song:

    "...a 20-page cardboard (children's) book with a line on each page and a picture to go with it. It's a fable, that's all. The music almost gives you this feeling of flight, and I really love singing the part at the end, which is all about rising above anybody's comments about what you do and still giving your love away. You know? Not becoming bitter and reclusive, not condemning the whole world because of the actions of a few..."
    champiodion December 17, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAll of these interpretations are great. The one that I have stems from a PJ concert in Tampa, FL. in 2008. Before Eddie sung this song he talked about growing up in Chicago and going to see the Cubs with his uncle. He said his uncle pointed out an outfielder who played for the Cubs at the time who was going blind. Ed was amazed and that hispanic player became his favorite player. Ironically the former player was in the crowd that night and Ed pointed him out. The place went crazy and then Ed said, this next song is for you! His name was Jose Cardinel (sp.?). The guitars came in hard for the beginning of Given to Fly, and before the 1st verse, Ed screams THIS IS FOR MY HERO. So regardless of who this song may be in reference to, Eddie, Jesus, etc., the song I think is supposed to be a positive song, with a message of hope....overcoming obstacles in life. Ed had so much admiration for Jose and related it to this song. Cubs suck by the way.........
    Corduroyboyon January 08, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI don't think the song is necessarily about Jesus (or any God figure, for that matter). I think, symbolically, the song is just referring to someone who overcomes whatever obstacles he may be facing. The character in the song was being repressed by his life and he found a way to escape that. He was able to "fly" and be free. And then he was able to see the chains that were everywhere, and wanted people to be free like he was (he was enlightened to the fact that everyone goes through struggles). But people just kept putting him down and rejecting him (that would be the "faceless" people). And so now all that is seen of him is this "spot in the sky"... A figure that seems so high above them, so free. Something they can only admire from afar, because they aren't there with him. I'm not sure how to explain it. It's kind of like a legend, a thing that no one believes can really happen. Can they really break free like he did?

    I can see where people make the connection to a God-like figure... People often say that until they found Jesus, they had never really been happy. They had never been "free".
    AboveThePainon December 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo anyone who has read the book "Illusions" by Richard Bach this sounds very familliar. An enlightened individual who first rejects his knowledge, then trys to share it only to be shunned for it, but still teaches one person and so he has acomplished his goal in life. I have always loved this song.
    CeeJaion May 04, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentimho, i think this is about surfing, and how it's such a good stress reliever. you can see it "the key to the locks on his chains he saw everywhere" is akin to arriving at the beach and finding good waves, and the rest of the song is pretty graphic too, but maybe i'm oversimplifying
    kidcodeaon June 02, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPersonal enlightenment, leaving those that arent, behind. And no, that doesnt mean god. (Big G or little g)
    thecrossboneon February 06, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhen the boys performed with Robert Plant at the house of blues to pitch in for Katrina relief,

    Pearl Jam played this song and dedicated it to Plant, ( which was an obvious shout out to the similar progression as going to california)

    and then Plant took the Stage and played Going to California while winking and smiling at Mike McCready ( Pearl Jam's lead guitarist and the music writer of Given to Fly, Eddie wrote the lyrics)

    That sounds to me like nothing more than mutual artistic respect....

    Not to bash Zeppelin anyways, they were PIONEERS in the rock and roll world, but the rhythm for Going to California itself was actually inspired by an eastern Hindu Indian Hymn....or something along those lines.....

    Cool huh? this song has such a history,
    N0 C0DE 79on February 12, 2006   Link

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