Sky Pilot was written and recorded by Eric Burdon and The Animals in 1967 and released the following year. Its lyrics are not concerned with aircrews or planes, as the title implies. Instead, Sky Pilot is about  military chaplains and the role they play in supporting and perpetuating war. In its lyrics, the chaplain, a “good holy man”, “blesses the boys” as they prepare for battle and assures them that they are “soldiers of God”.The sprawling single “Sky Pilot,” released at the dawn of that war-torn year, proved to be a game changer, one of rock’s first cinematic songs.While the song’s subtle anti-war message surely concerned the Vietnam War, its shadowing invoked the two world wars. The milieu reportedly was  ins pried by Burdon’s grandfather who was a British fighter pilot during WWI.

This is followed by a long interlude featuring heavy guitar, bagpipes and the sounds of an airplane dog-fight. Burdon’s vocals resume to remind us of the Sixth Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill”. Because of its considerable length (seven and a half minutes) Sky Pilot did not receive as much radio airplay as other anti-war songs. Shortened versions charted at number seven in Australia, number 14 in the US and number 40 in Britain. It was ingeniously produced by American producer Tom Wilson…known for his work with Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel…

Musically and conceptually, the song brings to mind the Doors’ “The Unknown Soldier”(recorded a month after “Sky Pilot’s” release).It twas Jim Morrison’s reaction to the Viet Nam War and the way the conflict was portrayed in American media at the time. Lines such as “Breakfast where the news is read/ Television children fed/ Unborn living, living dead/ Bullets strike the helmet’s head” concern the way news of the war was being presented in the living rooms of ordinary people. Urban legend claims that  long time  Door’s  producer, Paul Rothchild was so particular about how the song came out that it ultimately took over 130 takes to finish…The record stiffed at #39 on the Billboard 100.. well below “Sky Pilot”…