Lyrics

Into the distance, a ribbon of black
stretched to the point of no turning back
a flight of fancy on a windswept field
standing alone my senses reeled
a fatal attraction is holding me fast
how can I escape this irresistible grasp?

Can’t keep my eyes from the circling skies
tongue-tied and twisted
just an earth-bound misfit, I

Ice is forming on the tips of my wings
unheeded warnings, I thought
I thought of everything
no navigator to find my way home
unladened, empty and turned to stone
a soul in tension, that’s learning to fly
condition grounded but determined to try

Can’t keep my eyes from the circling skies
tongue-tied and twisted
just an earth-bound misfit, I

Above the planet on a wing and a prayer
my grubby halo, a vapour trail in the empty air
scross the clouds I see my shadow fly
out of the corner of my watering eye
a dream unthreatened by the morning light
could blow this soul right
through the roof of the night

There’s no sensation to compare with this
suspended animation, a state of bliss

Can’t keep my mind from the circling skies
tongue-tied and twisted
just an earth-bound misfit, I.

Writer/s: WATERS, ROGER/GILMOUR, DAVID JON
Publisher: Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., IMAGEM U.S. LLC

Learning to fly and the meaning of the song

 Into the distance, a ribbon of black
stretched to the point of no turning back
a flight of fancy on a wind swept field 

Talking with Only Music, in the 1987, David Gilmour say: “Learning to Fly is about breaking free and the actual mechanics of learning to fly an airplane.” And from here i start. With this dual way to read the lyrics of this song. Yes, you are in a plane, and staring down at the runways (Ribbon o black), and it’s streached to a point of no turning back because you will be flying after that. The experiences, you can’t turn back from them. The windswept field is the airport and you are in a plane (and make a fancy flight). The windswept field maybe can mean the reality of our life too.

The phrase, “into the distance, the ribbon (or river) of black” refers to the runway, obviously, but also it refers to time. The runway, like rivers in literature, refers to the inexorable advance of time.

 standing alone my senses reeled
a fatal attraction is holding me fast
how can I escape this irresistible grasp? 

Your own weaknesses holding you back, fatal, but still attractive, a fight with yourself. Maybe he talk only about the great passion for  the flight, that sometime make it later for record sessions of the album.

 Can’t keep my eyes from the circling skies
tongue-tied and twisted
just an earth-bound misfit, I 

You really need to keep your eyes on the sky as you fly. The feeling of your tongue that is tied and twisted with the rush of realising your dream. But you are only a man. An earth bound misfit. Simply one who cannot fly. But if we see deep inside ourself, we can see that our soul is free and that we are born to raise in the sky, to the sun.

 Ice is forming on the tips of my wings
unheeded warnings, I thought I thought of everything
no navigator to find my way home
unladened, empty and turned to stone 

As you fly, you see ice forming on the tips of your wings. There are so many flashing beeps on your dashboard. Now you are scared and you thought of everything. You don’t have a navigator that can help you. You are so scared, that you are turned in a stone. This is your first fly. You are learning to fly.

The dubbed over voice of pilots talking is actually a recording of drummer Nick Mason during a flying lesson. Mason and Gilmour were terrified of flying but eventually got their pilot Licenses.

 a soul in tension, that’s learning to fly
condition grounded but determined to try 

Your soul wanted to fly. And  wanted this so badly that now is in tension. So scared that your dream will have to end for now. Maybe not to death, but just that you have to land right now.  The deep worries and fears inside yourself are called in this way. Your soul wants to be free and something is holding you back.

 Above the planet on a wing and a prayer
my grubby halo, a vapour trail in the empty air 

I have finally raised in the sky, even above the planet and I need a prayer. A power of praying to the higher God or his energy, to keep there. But I am almost unseen, only the halo and vapour. I have ascended.

Only you and the vapour trail that your plain makes into the open skies.

 scross the clouds I see my shadow fly
out of the corner of my watering eye 

Through the corner of your eyes that are fill up with tears of happiness.

 a dream unthreatened by the morning light
could blow this soul right
through the roof of the night 

This is about the feeling of being afraid to wake up, because it will bring only pain.  And this sounds magic, as it is. Here you can go behind the night. Physically impossible but possible by your soul. So the night of depression and sadness what surrounds you, can be broken by your new free spirit.

 There’s no sensation to compare with this
suspended animation, a state of bliss 

The realization that you are now free from your problems. Forever. You have made it. Your soul, the force in you has made it.

In the next and last chorus, the word eyes, is changed in mind.  Your mind, not your eyes, is what “sees”, what creates reality. Your eyes only see, your ears only hear. You are there, in your head and your mind define, what the world is like for you.

Conclusion

Another great song written by David Gilmour, that had a great live impact.

Leave a comment or a different vision of the meaning of this song if you want.

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