Favorite version: Jimmy Webb, Twilight Of The Renegades, 2005
(excerpt from Jimmy & Me album notes):
A friend helped me discover this song, for I had somehow missed it when it was first released. I love how the rootless, restless lyrics float over the rootless, restless harmonies. Just how a song about skywriting should be. And as far as the flying genre goes, this song is right up there with Joni’s “Amelia” (a judgment I don’t pronounce lightly).
We did a promo poster about the time my Singer album came out that said, “People can’t fly. But sometimes they do.” Flying’s always been a big concept for me, as it is for everyone who wants to run away. It figures prominently in my music and in my dreams—both night and day varieties. Like “Shattered,” this song explores a single concept from start to finish, through and through, in all its glory and shame. Who among us hasn’t dreamed of flying, and then thought he was flying, only to realize that there was never going to be a happy landing, just two heartbreaking choices: either stay up there forever, or crash. You can fly away from reality, but then you’re doomed to spend your life writing your evaporating message across the sky: “I can’t forget you yet, for whatever that is worth.”