Animals – Sky Pilot

I bought this song on a single along with San Franciscan Nights when I was getting into the Animals as a pre-teen.  This was not the same Animals of House of the Rising Sun and others…everyone but Eric Burdon and drummer Barry Jenkins had been replaced.

A Sky Pilot is a military chaplain, in the lyric he blesses the boys as they stand in line. The song finds the chaplain telling the soldiers that they are fighting for a greater cause, as they are soldiers of God. Eric Burdon tape-recorded The Royal Scot’s Dragoon Guards at a school and used the music during the middle of the song along with the war sound effects.

The song peaked at #14 in the Billboard 100, #7 in Canada, and #40 in the UK in 1968. The single was split into two parts to fit on the 45 so to hear the rest of the song… you had to flip the record over.

Eric Burdon received an angry letter from the British government for his use of pipe music. The song he used was “All The Bluebonnet’s Are Over The Border,” which is a classic Scottish war piece written as an anti-war epic during the Vietnam War.

Sky Pilot

He blesses the boys as they stand in line
The smell of gun grease and the 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… pilot
How high can you fly
You’ll never, never, never reach the sky
He smiles at the young soldiers

Tells them its 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… 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’s still 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 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 soldier so ill looks at the sky pilot
Remembers the words
“Thou shalt not kill”
Sky pilot… pilot

How high can you fly
You never, never, never reach the sky


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

30 thoughts on “Animals – Sky Pilot”

  1. A very potent tune in many ways. I had forgotten Eric Burdon sang Sky Pilot. His powerhouse voice is used as a beacon of truth here. God blessed him with it. I like the band lineup on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I told this to Dave the other day. The first time our band ever recorded… we had the date set to a low grade recording studio…our drummer was sick. He could not go but the guy there offered to play those hideous 80s electric drums…I flatly refused to go…the others were a little pissed but they got over it…we recorded a couple of weeks later with our drummer. Since it was my song…it was my rules lol.
        I didn’t like the fake sounding insturments in teh 80s…I hated it at the time. I wanted real or nothing. That is why I regret not finding a lot of these off the wall bands I found now back then…sometihng I really would have liked!

        I liked The Replacements and REM back then a lot….but top 40 I was more picky on…I was a bit of a snob

        Liked by 1 person

  2. a good one I’ve heard a few times on oldies shows in Canada, I thought it sounded pretty decent but never really paid any attention to the lyrics or thought through the meaning before…listening to it after reading this, I have more respect for it still. good choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was exposed to it as a kid becasue I was a huge Animals fan…I never paid attention either to the lyrics as much as the catchy chorus.


  3. My favorite Animals song. Bob Dearborn at WCFL in Chicago had a nightly feature called “Long Gold” where he’d play the full versions of songs that had been truncated or shortened to fit the 3-minute rule. This was one of the shorter ones, but I always liked when be played it, because I could never recall hearing it when it was a hit.

    Hey, has the TV Draft begun showing up? If so, where?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So mine should be tomorrow. We went with my “every other day” suggestion!

        The part of the long “Sky Pilot” that I really like is the part with the bagpipes playing “All The Bluebonnets Are O’er The Border.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That was the best thing to do….I’m glad he listened. Mine is coming on Monday night I believe.

        I do love the bagpipes also…the one time I saw them live was with Nazareth during Hair of the Dog


  4. Great song, Max, I love it! When I was in my pre-teens, I’m pretty sure the only tune I knew by The Animals was “House of the Rising Sun,” which I dug from the get-go – I still do.

    In fact, “House of the Rising Sun” for many years was the only Animals tune I knew. Then I got to listen to some additional songs from their original line-up. Everything else I know that came thereafter, including Eric Burdon & The Animals, Burdon’s album with War and some of his solo work I only explored within the last five years or so.

    Burdon is a great blues vocalist. Similar to Keith Richards, fortunately, he also somehow survived excessive drug use.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Christian. I bought House of the Rising Sun when I was young. It lead to more singles and then finally a greatest hit package. Then I started to read about Eric Burdon and the Animals.
      I bought this single along with Warm San Franciscan Nights.
      I really liked them. They were more aggressive than the Stones early on in their sound.

      Yes I’m glad he survived. I think him and Lennon were friends.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know…it came from reading about these bands and wanting to hear them. I was a time capsule…a generation behind lol.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: