Songfacts®: You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.
This is the title track of the fourteenth album by bluegrass-country singer-songwriter Alison Krauss and her backup band Union Station. In an interview with The Boot
, Krauss was asked about the record's theme. She replied: "I'll speak for myself because the guys [in Union Station] don't really want to hear about... they're like, 'Whatever, you like it, you don't like it.' [laughs] It's not something I've thought about until people ask me about it. To me, it's like being in the middle of a very trying time and knowing it will end, but at the moment you're in the middle of it."
American Country singer and songwriter Robert Lee Castleman, whose songs Krauss has recorded a number of times, penned this cut. Other Castleman tunes sung by Krauss include "Forget About It", "Let Me Touch You for Awhile" and "The Lucky One."
Krauss told the story of how she came to sing this Castleman song to The Boot: "We recorded in July and August and I said, 'We don't have it, we've got to stop and let me go look for some more things.' So we took a break, and I went looking for stuff. I called R.L. and said, 'Where are you?' I had known that he was in a place of being uninspired. I was lost. Sidney Cox [another frequent contributor to Alison's albums] was lost. We kept having these conversations of, 'I just can't find it. Nothing is sad enough. Nothing is resounding. I'm not able to connect with these things I'm singing about,' which is a very empty feeling. If you're not connecting with what you're singing, it doesn't mean the material is bad or that they aren't beautiful songs. They just weren't speaking to me yet.
When I called R.L., who's been a center of our recordings for the past 12 to 15 years, he said, 'I've been going to the ocean, going to the places I used to go when I was heartbroken and I just can't find it.' After a long conversation, he said, 'Just come over and sit here and talk to me.' So, I drove over there. When I walked in the door, he had a melody and it was 'Paper Airplane.' It was beautiful. I said, 'Well, what are you gonna do now?' He said, 'I'll wait.' I said, 'Wait for what?' [laughs] He said, 'It'll be here about midnight.' It's like a download for him. Completely inspired. He doesn't mess around with it, he just waits. And there it was, 'Paper Airplane.' I just loved it."
Paper Airplane topped the country album chart, the first #1 album of Krauss's career. In case you're thinking, What about Raising Sand?, the singer's best-selling collaboration with Robert Plant surprisingly only reached #2.