Airline Hits

Q: You mentioned your musical influences in last week’s column (seems an odd bit of background for a pilot). Give us five songs we can listen to through our annoying plastic headsets.

1. Credence Clearwater Revival, “Travelin’ Band”
“737 comin’ out of the sky…” Ahead of his time, John Fogerty pays tribute to the world’s best-selling jet, long before it was such.

3. The Clash, “Tommy Gun.”
“Waiting in the airport till kingdom come.” Something we can all relate to.

3. The Replacements, “Waitress in the Sky”
Young punks from Minnesota piss off the flight attendants. This is from the 1985 album Tim. Republic Airlines, at the time a hometown carrier based in Minneapolis, was changed to “Reunion” in the song.

4. Brian Eno “Burning Airlines”
“I guess Regina’s on a plane, a Newsweek on her knees.” What, she’s not ordering a couple of “Successories” pictures from SkyMall?

5. Hüsker Dü, “Turn on the News”
From 1984’s Zen Arcade album, Grant Hart sings, “Airplanes are fallin’ out of the sky…” As I’ve written, we should come to grips with the fallibility of our flying machines.

This list will easily be expanded to fifty or so by the dozens of submissions I’ll be hit with. There are obviously many others out there, but the above are some picks from the author’s own collection.

When it comes to the mention of specific models, it seems the Boeing family is the most musically inclined (I can think of at least two other songs mentioning 747s). As far as I know, no singer has given credit to any Airbus type. Somehow the Airbus brand just doesn’t lend itself lyrically.


This article is part of a collection that originally appeared on Salon.com. Patrick Smith, 38, is an erstwhile airline pilot, retired punk rocker and air travel columnist. His book, Ask the Pilot (Riverhead) was voted “Best Travel Book of 2004” by Amazon.com. Patrick has traveled to more than 55 countries and always asks for a window seat. He lives near Boston.