What does Learning to Fly mean?

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Tom Petty: Learning to Fly Meaning

Song Released: 1991

Learning to Fly Lyrics

Well I started out down a dirty r oad
Started out all alone
And the sun went down as I crossed the hill
The town lit up the world got still

I’m learning to fly but I ain’t got wings
Comin’ down is the hardest thing

Well the good old...


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    Apr 18th, 2005 4:04am report

    This song is about achieving a huge goal. The learning to fly without wings means learning to do something you\'ve never done before and you\'re not sure if you\'re even prepared to do.

    As with anything great, coming back down is always the hardest part.

    Great song.


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    Oct 6th, 10:01pm report

    I've always thought it's about growing older. "Coming down is the hardest thing."


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    Oct 3rd, 10:20pm report

    May TOM PETTY always [R.I.P] I know that I've heard that this song isn't about drugs, and I agree. But you can interpret this song from personal experience, being high on drugs that's ''almost like'' getting on a one way plane trip to the higher plain. All the while getting way to high on those certain drugs to experience the God Expierience of ''Learning To Fly'' there. Without thinking or worrying that you may lose everything, if you try to come down. Asking yourself ''when and how'' to land, 'cause you learned to fly much more Mentally without having the experience of any Wings to guide you back, and if you ever do, that's the hardest thing to do, 'cause you are usually pulled down from your escape trip by the earth's gravity to crash land back into yourself.


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    Dec 28th, 2015 12:00pm report

    Not every single song is about Drugs. Tom Petty said it wasn't about drugs and since he wrote it, let's give him credit for knowing what his own song was about.

    One interview says he saw a pilot on TV talking about how when you learn to fly that landing is the most difficult part. I think the song is both talking about the difficult things in life and relating them to the actual experience of learning to fly.


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    Jul 5th, 2014 7:08pm report

    Earth to humans................ The song is about chicks!!!!


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    Aug 11th, 2012 8:09pm report

    No, your all wrong. When tom was asked if the song was about drugs, he simply said no. He once talked to a pilot, who in fact, was learning to fly. He told Tom that coming down was the hardest thing. Simple as that


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    Apr 25th, 2012 4:39am report

    Never having done drugs... I got into the song because... i just dont' know why.
    I think there is a meaning here for anyone who connects with it and needs to find it.


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    Jan 20th, 2010 1:26pm report

    This song is about the epidemic of crack cocaine, how it came out of nowhere and before you knew it it was everywhere. The part about the sun went down across the hill, the town lit up the world stood still, is about Capital Hill in D.C., The rocks may melt, the C will burn, that is crack cocaine, It will break your heart, steal your crown...... How can anyone think this song is about achieving dreams?


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    Sep 10th, 2009 9:00am report

    I recently heard this song on the radio and have always associated it with suicidal ideations. The musical background seems both 'grounded' and lofty, the thoughts of one who can't "fly".
    The narrator is trapped in circumstances or a life from which they cannot escape, but they see the road out: suicide ("a ribbon of black/stretched to the point of no turning back"). "A flight of fancy on a windswept field" brings to mind the fields near my residence: they're windswept and desolate. The narrator is desperate for a way out, and receives an 'answer' from the sky: "standing below/ my senses reeled". The "fatal attraction" holding them fast would be the romantic notions of suicide that many people seem to hold, and he cannot "escape/this irresistible grasp", pulling all his thoughts into this final act.
    The sky would represent everything he wished to accomplish but, for whatever reason, could not. He cannot stop thinking of his regrets and failures, the "circling sky".
    "Ice is forming/ on the tips of my wings" means that his ability to function is weakening with his depression. He thought he thought of everything that could go wrong with his plan, not heeding the warnings of what could happen. He has no navigator to bring him 'home', where his happiness once was.
    Here, I heard the lyrics not as "a soul in tension/ is learning to fly" but "my sole intention/ was learning to fly", in that the narrator failed at his attempt to die. His condition is grounded (perhaps in a mental hospital) but he's determined to try again. His only hope is “flying” away from his life or failures; however, the “circling sky” makes him feel guilty about leaving, too. He is still just a tongue-tied, twisted earth-bound misfit.
    The background speech, if not heard correctly as flying jargon, could be the blur of the psychiatric hospital around him as he succeeds in his attempt. Lack of oxygen causes the weightless sensation the next verse describes (and it just sounds beautiful).
    “Above the planet/ on a wing and a prayer” represents his feeling that he has succeeded, that everything is going to be much better. He is hallucinating (though I don’t know if this can happen or not) and experiences a sensation of floating above the clouds. This is “a dream unthreatened/ by the morning light”, because nothing can happen to him now. “There’s no sensation to compare with this/ suspended animation, a state of bliss.” He no longer has to see the ‘circling sky’ in his life.
    This sounds dark, but it makes sense to me. I know that it was written about flying, but like all good songs, it can be taken different ways. I can see the metaphors for love, sex, new beginnings, and actually flying a plane as well, but this is my take on it. I love everything about this beautiful song: the lyrics, the music, and the final verse especially.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Jun 1st, 2009 6:21pm report

    My interpretation of this song , because we never knows what's in the mind of the writer at the moment... is that he's making a song about how we run before to learn to walk... like Tom Petty he got amazing songs and that gave him a huge popularity but he knows that Life give ups and downs... and no one knows where we will be tomorrow today you are a star and tomorrow you can be a mr. nobody ... and that will be worst than never been a star.

    but is a song that you can set it to your life, maybe you are having a ggod time (drugs, parties, having your parents alive with you, the born of a son) an this should end someday the drugs will get you down, the party will end, your parents will die and even your son can die before you... so you got to understand that nothing last forever, if you are learning day after day and lives as usual enjoying the moment knowing that it wont last forever, you'll have no regrets when all of it gets over...

    i'm learning to fly but i don't have wings .... we don't have the certaintly of being flying all the time (we don't have the life purchased)....we are not inmortals, not even the rocks, not even the sea...

    think about it is a reflexive song.


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    May 25th, 2009 5:52pm report

    This song has nothing to do with drugs. its all about growing up and experiencing things that you aren't ready for, like learning to fly without wings


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    Apr 20th, 2009 4:08am report

    I believe it can be intetpreted two main ways. One, as many have previously stated, it relates to drug abuse and recovering from this false high. I wont go into detail, as its already been done.

    Secondly, it is about a young man,or girl, coming of age. He or she must leave behind the conveniences of childhood and the "wings" of others bearing his burden. The person is learning carry his own weight and confront the hardships of life, or "fly without wings". Especially after i first saw the music video, this notion was sure set inside of me that this was what the song was written about.


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    Mar 13th, 2007 3:23pm report

    It's about being on a high whether drug induced or not, and knowing the whole time that it will indeed come crashing down and it will suck.


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    Feb 10th, 2007 2:28am report

    yeah, kinda. I think its more along the lines of
    learning to fly, when you aint got wings.
    coming down is the hardest thing.
    What he means by learning to fly when you aint got wings is first being introduced to drugs. Because later on it says
    well the good ol days will not return,
    thats just it see he doesn't have wings but he's got the dope. That's why coming down is so hard.


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    Jan 15th, 2006 1:26pm report

    It's a song about coming off drugs becuse learning to fly without your wings (drugs) is the hardest thing.

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