Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Flying Sorcery

click to go to the Al Stewart webpage

Words and music by AL STEWART
From the album THE YEAR OF THE CAT (1976)

Like many of Al Stewart's works, this haunting piece works on several levels. The theme of unrequited love (the best kind, as a friend of mine says) runs through it, but I also like the references to flying. Especially tiger moths, which can be seen in the skies above Cantabrigia, and Faith, Hope and Charity, the three biplanes which kept Malta supplied during the German blockade of World War II. Again, as with much of Stewart's work, shades of presence and absence are deftly woven into the fabric of the song. The album was hardly off my turntable for years.

With your photographs of Kitty Hawk
And the biplanes on your wall
You were always Amy Johnson
From the time that you were small.

No schoolroom kept you grounded
While your thoughts could get away
You were taking off in Tiger Moths
Your wings against the brush-strokes of the day

Are you there?
On the tarmac with the winter in your hair
By the empty hangar doors you stop and stare
Leave the oil-drums behind you, they won't care
Oh, are you there?

Oh, you wrapped me up in a leather coat
And you took me for a ride
We were drifting with the tail-wind
When the runway came in sight
The clouds came up to gather us
And the cockpit turned to white
When I looked the sky was empty
I suppose you never saw the landing-lights

Are you there?
In your jacket with the grease-stain and the tear
Caught up in the slipstream of dare
The compass roads will guide you anywhere,
Oh, are you there?

The sun comes up on Icarus
As the night-birds sail away
And lights the maps and diagrams
That Leonardo makes
You can see Faith, Hope and Charity
As they bank above the fields
You can join the flying circus Y
ou can touch the morning air against your wheels

Are you there?
Do you have a thought for me that you can share?
Oh I never thought you'd take me unawares
Just call me if you ever need repairs
Oh, are you there?

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