Alan Eisenstock’s Playlist: Come Fly with Me

(Editor’s note: Palisadian Alan Eisenstock’s 20th book, will come out on May 3. He wrote it with Sonya Curry, Stephen’s mom.

When Eisenstock is not writing, he pursues what he calls “a crazy labor of love side project” that he started in March 2020: sending a weekly Covid-themed playlist of songs to his family and friends. These playlists, which can be downloaded on Spotify click here. span rock ‘n’ roll and pop music from the 1950s to 2020, and Eisenstock adds one or two lines of commentary about each song that is clever, amusing and informative.)

Hi, Everyone,

First, an announcement. My latest book, FIERCE LOVE, written with the extraordinary Sonya Curry (mother of Steph, Seth, & Sydel), comes out this coming TUESDAY, MAY 3, just in time for Mother’s Day.

Kirkus Reviews called it: “A memoir from the resolute matriarch of a tight knit, dynamic family… strength and candor mark this brisk, heartfelt story of faith, resilience, and of course, basketball.”

Thank you, Kirkus. If you want to purchase the book, here’s the Amazon link:

Fierce Love: A Memoir of Family, Faith, and Purpose: Curry, Sonya: click here.

And now to the playlist.

Last week, a federal judge in Florida reversed the federal mandate requiring masks on airplanes. Wow. What a big win–for COVID! What to do? Idea. Here are 18 “flying” and “plane” songs. Listen up!

  1. “Come Fly with Me” Frank Sinatra. “The Chairman of the Board” is in top form with the title song from his 14th studio album, this one from 1958. Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen wrote our leadoff “flying” song. Snapping my fingers, donning a fedora.
  2. “The Letter” The Box Tops. Blue-eyed soul band formed in Memphis, led by gruff-voiced lead singer Alex Chilton. This 1967 song written by Wayne Carson was their biggest hit. Opens with the perfect lyric for our playlist: “Give me a ticket for an airplane.”
  3. “Jet” Wings. Paul McCartney formed Wings with, among others, his wife Linda on keyboards and former Moody Blues member Denny Laine on guitar. This cool 1973 hit song comes from Band on the Run.
  4. “Eight Miles High” The Byrds. An original song written by Byrds David Crosby, Roger McGuinn, and Gene Clark. Rock critics called this 1966 hit the first bona fide psychedelic rock song.
  5. “Leaving on A Jet Plane” Peter, Paul & Mary. Folksingers extraordinaire and my favorites. The trio recorded this song in 1969, written by their friend John Denver. The song became their only #1 hit. LOVE.
  6. “Jet Airliner” Steve Miller Band. Formed in San Francisco, early members included Boz Scaggs. This bluesy/rocker was written by Paul Pena, recorded in 1973. Steve, born in Milwaukee, is 78 and still going strong.
  7. “Learning to Fly” Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Love these guys. Tom and Jeff Lynne, formerly of ELO, co-wrote this song in 1991. Jeff sings and plays on the song. Not one of the more famous Petty songs, but the man could really write.
  8. “Rocket Man” Elton John. One of two Elton songs on the playlist. This big 1972 hit, co-written with Bernie Taupin, comes from Elton’s fantastic album, Honky Chateau. Several artists have covered the song, most notoriously William Shatner in a spoken-word, unintentionally hilarious version.
  9. “In the Aeroplane Over The Sea” Neutral Milk Hotel. Jeff Mangum formed this band in Ruston, LA. The band, one of the darlings of the indie movement of the nineties, attracted a cult following. This 1998 song from the album of the same name is perhaps the band’s most famous song. The group disbanded in 2015 and Jeff has sort of disappeared.
  10. “To Live Is to Fly” Townes Van Zandt. Born in Fort Worth, TX, Townes is considered a country legend. Critics call several of his songs masterpieces, including this one from the early 1970s. Born into a wealthy family, Townes suffered a lifetime of alcohol and drug addiction. He claimed that he wrote this song “entirely in his sleep.”
  11. “Fly Away” Lenny Kravitz. Funk, rock, soul, Lenny covers it all. He wrote this big hit in 1998, from his fifth studio album, which he named, subtly, 5. Apropos of nothing, Lenny’s middle name is Albert.
  12. “Big Jet Plane” Angus & Julia Stone. Brother and sister folk duo from Australia. This is one of their biggest hits, from 2009. I’ve been trying to find a playlist that fits them for two years. Finally. LOVE.
  13. “Learning to Fly” Pink Floyd. Roger Waters and Syd Barrett had left the group, but David Gilmour remained and wrote this great 1987 song about flying.Apparently, Gilmour loved flying, had his pilot’s license. This is a favorite song from this British progressive rock group. LOVE.
  14. “Paper Airplane” Alison Krauss & Union Station. Bluegrass queen and fiddler, Krauss and her band Union Station recorded this 2011 song from the album of the same name. She and Robert Plant have become partners both musically, and then romantically, for a short time.
  15. “Hold That Plane” Buddy Guy. Louisiana blues stud, George “Buddy” Guy recorded this song, again from the album of the same name. Buddy had poor luck with record companies. He recorded this album in 1969 but it wasn’t released until three years later. Sneaking in a blues song for sil.
  16. “Oviedo” Blind Pilot. Alt-folk band from Oregon that began as a duo. The main guy, Israel Nebeker, wrote this song from their 2008 album 3 Rounds and A Sound. Oviedo is a town in Spain and in Florida. I’ve never been.
  17. “(Ghost) Riders in The Sky” Johnny Cash. Not exactly a “flying” song–the lyric tells of ghostly cattle–but close enough. I love “The Man in Black’s” cover best. I was tempted to go with Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, or, gulp, Lawrence Welk’s instrumental version.
  18. “Take Me to The Pilot” Elton John. Lord Elton again, ends the flying playlist with this 1970 hit, the B-side of “Your Song.” For those of you missing “Sky Pilot” by Eric Burdon & The Animals, sorry.

And that concludes this week’s high flying playlist… a favorite. Some advice:

Don’t Forget to Disinfect and… PLAY IT LOUD! 

The link again: click here.

Fact Check

William Shatner did cover “Rocket Man.” It’s hilarious, though not on purpose.

Townes Van Zandt did say that he wrote “To Live Is To Fly” in his sleep.

I cannot imagine “Ghost Riders in The Sky” by Lawrence Welk, but he recorded it.


“Norwegian Wood” flew past “Blackbird” and the other “Bird” song by The Beatles that got zero votes.


Elton versus Elton: “Rocket Man” or “Take Me To The Pilot.” Who you got?


Until next week,

Thanks for listening, reading, and supporting my book writing habit.

Alan Eisenstock



This entry was posted in Music. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *