Eric Burdon and The Animals Sky Pilot

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Eric Burdon and The Animals Sky Pilot

Eric Burdon and the Animals Sky Pilot

Acid Rock

This “slice of life” song by Eric Burdon and The Animals was released both as a single, split between the A-Side and B-Side in 1968. It was also released on their 1968 album The Twain Shall Meet.  The sky pilot of the song is a military chaplin. He blesses the boys as they go off on their mission, waits for them, and then observes their return. It is a long, thoughtful composition about war. The length of the song, which is more than 7 minutes, made it not a popular candidate for airplay. “Sky Pilot” is known for its montage of battle sounds, as well as the bagpipe music before the return home of the soldiers. Burdon covertly recorded at a school the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards performing “All the Bluebonnets Are Over the Border.” The British government was not amused. Was the mission worth it? The lyrics say, “Only time it will tell.” And a young soldier remembers the words, “Thou shalt not kill.”

On the track are Eric Burdon (vocals), John Weider (guitar, violin), Vic Briggs (guitar), Danny McCulloch (bass, vocals), and Barry Jenkins (drums.

Here are the lyrics to “Sky Pilot” by Eric Burdon & The Animals:

He blesses the boys as they stand in line
The smell of gun grease
And their 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 so  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 young 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…

For other songs by The Animals: “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” and “House of the Rising Sun.”

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