Friday, August 26, 2016

Al Stewart - Flying Sorcery

When I was about eight or nine, I was really into airplanes. And one of my most treasured books was a book on the history of aviation, which to a nine-year old seemed utterly romantic and adventurous and exciting. Even the names, all difficult to pronounce, of the pioneers, communicated strangeness, a world inaccessible only in dreams by a little boy. I knew all of these names by heart: Icarus, Otto Lilienthal, Louis Bleriot, Amelia Earhart, Amy Johnson (shown left), Hugo Junkers, Samuel Langley, Alberto Santos-Dumont, Thomas Sopwith, and of course, Charles Lindbergh and the Wright Brothers. And the names of the early biplanes and airplanes were imprinted in my brain. I spent a lot of time drawing sketches of airplanes -- ones from the early 20th century -- flying in the sky. Pages and pages. I was fascinated by flight. Of course, I forgot all that and outgrew it soon after. Not sure what happened. I suppose there was puberty, girls and music and other things.

But so it was a strange surprise to hear this song, "Flying Sorcery" by Al Stewart from his classic album Year of the Cat (1976) which some consider a masterpiece of the mid-seventies singer-songwriter genre. "Flying Sorcery" is a song about those early years of aviation and it so perfectly captures my childhood fascination with flight that I almost feel like someone had talked to me when I was nine and wrote that song down. As the song, floating on a lilting melody, coasts along, we hear about Kitty Hawk (where the Wright Brothers flew), Amy Johnson (who flew from Britain to Australia, above), Tiger Moths, Faith, Hope, and Charity (a British biplane fighter), Leonardo da Vinci, and of course Icarus.

So here is a small part of my childhood, explained in 4 minutes and 23 seconds:

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