Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Leaving On A Jet Plane

by

Peter, Paul and Mary



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was written by a very young John Denver, who was then a member of the Chad Mitchell Trio before beginning his solo career in the 1970s. Denver wrote this in 1967 during a layover at Washington airport, "Not so much from feeling that way for someone, but from the longing of having someone to love." The Chad Mitchell Trio recorded the song that year, as did Spanky & Our Gang and Peter, Paul and Mary. It only became a hit when the latter act covered the song again two years later.
The 1969 hit version by Peter, Paul and Mary came at a great time for Denver, who had just disbanded the Chad Mitchell Trio. Denver became the senior member of the group when Joe Frazier and Mike Kobluk left (Denver replaced Chad Mitchell, chosen in an audition that drew about 300 singers), but had no name recognition. Some of his first solo appearances were billed as "John Denver, writer of 'Leaving On A Jet Plane'." Known for this song, Denver got some club appearances and TV gigs, which helped launch his career as one of the biggest-selling artists of the '70s.
Denver claimed that he wasn't a prolific or systematic songwriter - he wrote songs when they came to him. Some of his popular songs took months to complete, but this one took him just a few hours to finish.
This became the biggest hit for Peter, Paul and Mary, and also their last. The trio charted 12 times on the Top-40 from 1962-1969, scoring with their renditions of "Puff The Magic Dragon" and "Blowin' In The Wind."
John Denver successfully took legal action against New Order, claiming that the guitar break on New Order's third single from their Technique album, "Run 2," too closely resembled "Leaving on a Jet Plane." The case was settled out of court, and as a result the single can never be re-released in its original form.
Peter, Paul and Mary
Peter, Paul and Mary Artistfacts
More Peter, Paul and Mary songs
More songs with methods of transportation in the title
More songs involved in lawsuits
More songs that became hits long after they were first released
More songs for singing around a campfire

Comments (32):

I was an eleven year old girl when this song came out by Peter, Paul & Mary. At my young age, I thought the woman in the song was pregnant and had to fly on a jet plane somewhere to get an abortion. The way Mary Travers sings the song is so rife with emotion, I felt all the melancholy, longing and regret in her voice, even tho I was so young. I realize the lyrics could be about a traveling musician, however, let's not negate the woman's perspective here as Mary's vocals are the most popular. When she sings, it is from her point of view.
- Camille, Toronto, OH
This song was written as a love song to his girlfriend, telling her how much he hated to leave her when he went on tour, and how he planned to commit to the relationship when he returned--"when I come back, I'll wear your wedding ring". The song also contains an apology for all the unfaithful things he's done on the road--"So many times I've let you down, so many times I've played around, I tell you now, they don't mean a thing." It is a very emotional song that conjures up a lot of memories for a lot of
people, me included. I'm not sure if the girl in the song is Annie, who later became his wife, but it could have been. Regardless, the song is a classic. John Denver was one of our most talented performers and was really in touch with his own spirit and our environ-
ment. RIP, brother.
- MAC, WINTERVILLE , GA
Sorry for butchering John's name, that is actualy Henry John Deutschendorf and I am a terrible speller. Anyways the cool thing about this is that the man who actually wrote these lyrics for his girlfriend has remained silent all these years. But there are Cellar Door staff still living who remember 1965, the Chad Mitchel Trio that John got his break when Chad left and John began performing at the Door. They remember what happened when he came back from pilot school to and came to the Door and met again with the new John Denver, flush from the sale of this song to Peter Paul and Mary. They also recorded it on the debut Trio album with John Denver.
- Kris, destin, FL
Michael from Tidewater, NC has his facts most correct. Actually the lyrics for Babe I Hate To Go were written by the lights and sound guy at the Cellar Door after he graduated from Georgetown and just before he went off to train as a fighter pilot at the end of 1965. He is a great guy and a personal friend of mine. It was written for the woman who would eventually become his wife. He gave the lyrics to John Douseldorf and said "John, your the music man, can you put these words to music? I really do hate to go.".
- Kris, destin, FL
Originally named "Babe I Hate To Go", "Jet Plane" was written for a lady in Washington, D.C. named Andi (last name private). She is still a friend of mine, as was John from 1966 until his death. After work one night in the summer of 1967, myself and several other staff at the Cellar Door in Georgetown were sitting around when John excitedly rushed in with his Guild Sunburst 12 string to play for us the song he had just finished. He was a frequent visitor even when not playing there because of his relationship with her which ended amicably later that year.
- Michael, Tidewater, NC
Sara, this is NOT a song about a guy going off to war. The lyrics make it clear it is a touring musician - as John Denver was at the time.
- John, Auckland, New Zealand
Jamie........I can relate.....I was in the Marines and back in'76 my wife and I got married...7-24-76...and got to spend 30 days together before I had to go to Okinawa and spend a year away from her....I almost missed my flight and the last thing that I saw from her was a "smile' and her waving good-bye with her eyes misting up.......
- Rick, Belfast, ME
I was in 4th grade flying from Logan airport to Centereach (sp?) New York...My birthday present. I was scared and excited all at the same time. This song was in my head the whole trip!
- Corinne, Center Conway, NH
John Denver is one of those artist that is not "cool" to listen to but I have to disagree with those that say such things.Many of those that say this are the ones listing to pop stars and wrappers that can't play a musical instument and need to to lip synch on stage. Leaving on a jet plane is a sad song.Like it or not however it is an extremely well written song.When a song conjures up emotions be it sad or happy the songwriter has done his or her job. Denver is not one my favorite artist but I certainly respect his talent.He was as good an acoustic guitar player as anyone you will hear today. When John died I knew the world had lost one of the greats.Of course only as I am writing this do I realize the irony of his death in regards to the title of this song.
- brian, boston, MA
Such a lovely forlorn song and to hear it was from a single man it exudes the profound lonliness a travelling musician goes through. It is all the more touching to read that it is about no one. He wished he had some one to love like that, and THAT is truly a beautiful statement about John Denver. I never got a chance to see him perform and am still upset about the real circumstances of his death and what the record companiy did to this man with the golden voice.
- Jeff, Toronto, ON
This song is about a guy going off to war, he stops off to say goodbye to his girlfriend.
- sara, eckerty, IN
the song is just so amazeing i lovve it ever so much the person who made it was a genuous
- brittany, lakehaven, Australia
It's so beautiful. I've downloaded the song by mistake and I was going to delete it, however I decided to listen to the song, and suddenly mixed emotions started flooding and they do everytime I listen to this song.

It's just so beautiful
- Rajab, Benghazi, Egypt
how about Ben Afflecks version?....
- rob, vancouver, Canada
One of the MOST emotional songs ever.
- Jon, Oakridge, OR
NV, I was one of those "kids" who flew off to Vietnam in the sixties. Yes, that is also how I feel about it. At airports all over the country, parents, friends, and sweethearts could be seen hugging the departing uniformed "kids", and some "not so kids". Older military people were among all the departing. They had been there before,..but that didn't make there departure any easier. Tom
- Tom, Tulsa, OK
this song was also covered by me first and the gimme gimmes
- kyle, king george, VA
This song means so much to me because my husband and i are in the navy and i am pregnant and he is leaving to go to japan for a year without me and he wont be here for the birth of our child. He sang this song to me in our baby's room and held me and we cried.
- jamie, san diego, CA
Yes -- John Denver was piloting an experimental aircraft when it crashed.

He was indeed a plane down to earth kind of guy.
- Murph, Peoria, IL
this song is also covered by a nad called Slightly Stoopid outa Ocean Beach,California.Its really good
- patrick, san diego, CA
mxpx n frank sinatra have done covers of this song..my favourite line is "hold me like u'll never let me go"
- ariana, lima, Peru
i like this song because make me tihink the day whenmy ex girlfriend left from california ti her country on a jet plane tellling me the she will be waiting for me and i hold her like i never let her go... now we broke up for some reason and i still miss her...sad!!!
- gino, burbank, CA
this song always made me think of all those boys who flew off to RVN, many of whom never lived to come home...it always chokes me up to hear this
- art, sparks, NV
I really like this song because I think of my father the day he left-- on a jet plane... It's sad but I have grown from it.
- Beckie, Atwater, CA
I think he actually died in an ultra-light crash (not a jet plane).
- Rob McCormick, Sydney, Australia
hey btw there is also a band who have covered this song.... they are called me first and the gimme gimmes.... they cover alot of old songs you shud check em out ah the memories.... i dotn have any cuz im 15 lol
- Kim, Derby UK, United States
Didn't John Denver actually die in a plane crash ?
It seems he has indeed left us on a jet plane.
- Walter, Antwerp, Belgium
the Barron Knights also done a version..... Heaving on a jet plane
- stew, geelong, Australia
my history teacher thought for years that the lyrics where i'm leaving on a frieght train, he thought that all throughout college and didn't find out till he was married that it was on a jet plane
- Brentley, gibbon, NE
was this song also covered by simon and garfunkel??
- karan, Bangalore, India
A reworked version of this song is the theme to A&E's "Airline".
- Christy, Nashville, TN
John Denver wrote this at the Lubbock, TX airport where he was a student at Texas Tech.
- Bon, Dallas, TX
You have to to post comments.
Mark Arm of MudhoneyMark Arm of Mudhoney
When he was asked to write a song for the Singles soundtrack, Mark thought the Seattle grunge scene was already overblown, so that's what he wrote about.
Shaun Morgan of SeetherShaun Morgan of Seether
Shaun breaks down the Seether songs, including the one about his brother, the one about Ozzy, and the one that may or may not be about his ex-girlfriend Amy Lee.
John Lee HookerJohn Lee Hooker
Into the vaults for Bruce Pollock's 1984 conversation with the esteemed Bluesman. Hooker talks about transforming a Tony Bennett classic and why you don't have to be sad and lonely to write The Blues.
Penny Ford of Snap!Penny Ford of Snap!
The original voice of Snap!, this story is filled with angry drag queens, video impersonators and Chaka Khan.