Leaving On A Jet Plane

Album: Album 1700 (1969)
Charted: 2 1
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  • 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.
  • On one of his BBC radio specials, John Denver said: "This is a very personal and very special song for me. It doesn't conjure up Boeing 707s or 747s for me as much as it does the simple scenes of leaving. Bags packed and standing by the front door, taxi pulling up in the early morning hours, the sound of a door closing behind you, and the thought of leaving someone that you care for very much. I was fortunate to have Peter, Paul and Mary record it and have it become a hit, but it still strikes a lonely and anguished chord in me, because the separation still continues, although not so long and not so often nowadays."
  • 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.
  • In The Office episode "Launch Party" (2007), Michael Scott sings this before he and Jim hit the road for New York City. Instead of a jet plane, he changes the lyrics to "I'm leaving inside Jim's car."

    It was also used on these TV shows:

    Barry ("Chapter Seven: Loud, Fast, And Keep Going" - 2018)
    Masters Of Sex ("Freefall" - 2016)
    The Last Man On Earth ("Screw The Moon" - 2015)
    The Neighbors ("There Goes The Neighbors' Hood" - 2014)
    Chuck ("Chuck Versus The Honeymooners" - 2010)
    Glee ("Pilot" - 2009)

    And in these movies:

    Catch Me If You Can (2002)
    Superstar (1999)
    Armageddon (1998)
    Girls' Night (1998)
    The Rock (1996)

Comments: 43

  • Rusty Russell from NcI know many hit songs may take years to write the lyrics though I think penning the tune can take even longer. It is ironic that some of the bigger hits are not a struggle to write and for me seem to be channeled from above. I search desperately for lyrics but tunes and melodies never seem to be a struggle. It is interesting to find how the author of a hit song or a popular song gets worked out by it's author. I am glad that we know have the internet because facts about songs are not hidden anymore. Maybe if we had been more astute back when a single was recorded ( look at the record) we would have easily found the author. But a name maybe obscure unless we learn who that individual was and the influences that shaped the song.
  • K.c. Hortop from MichiganMany comments here about whether the song was sung by a soldier going off to war or a musician going on tour. Doesn't matter. Anyone who has had to fly and leave someone, without knowing when they'll be home, can relate to this song. For me, it was flying to Army Boot Camp in 1971 and leaving my wife behind.
  • Joseph from Brooklyn Chantal Kreviazuk sang a lovely cover in 1998, which might be one of the only covers of this song by a woman. I find that makes it especially poignant. She only changed one lyric: Instead of "When I come back, I'll bring your wedding ring" she sings "When I come back, I'll wear your wedding ring." The cover was her only international hit. https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=5eAhKg3K1t4&list=RDAMVM5eAhKg3K1t4
  • Michael from Vienna (austria)Although the version of Peter, Paul & Mary is beautiful, I prefer the version where John Denvers sings himself. Strangely enough with Denver's vocals it is clear that is a musician leaving on a plane, whereas with Mary Travers singing it is left to your phantasy how to understand it.
  • Bob from Helena Montana John Denver was probably the best singer

  • Dt from Perdido BeachVery lovely and haunting song that I appreciate more in my older years, as we begin to lose more family and friends and realize that our time is shorter and we will be saying goodbyes to our loved ones forever.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyExactly fifty years today on December 14th, 1969 "Leaving On A Jet Plane"* by Peter, Paul, and Mary peaked at #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Top 100 chart...
    The rest of the Top 10 on December 14th, 1969:
    At #2. "Someday We'll Be Together" by Diana Ross and the Supremes
    #3. "Down On The Corner/Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
    #4. "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" by Steam {Last week's #1 record}
    #5. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" by B.J. Thomas
    #6. "Come Together/Something" by The Beatles
    #7. "Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday" by Stevie Wonder
    #8. "Take A Letter Maria" by R.B. Greaves
    #9. "Holly Holy" by Neil Diamond
    #10. "And When I Die" by Blood, Sweat and Tears
    * And from the 'For What It's Worth' department, "Leaving On A Jet Plane" peaked at #2 {for 1 week} on the United Kingdom's Singles chart in February of 1970, the week it was at #2, the #1 record for that week was "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" by Edison Lighthouse...
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaJeff I was blessed to have seen John in concert down in San Diego. Sounded great, even if he never did my fav song, Looking For Space
  • Susan from Atlanta, GeorgiaJohn sang a duet of this with Mama Cass Elliott ("Mamas & Papas") on the Midnight Special.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 28th 1970, Peter, Paul, and Mary were one of the twelve acts* to perform at 'The Winter Concert for Peace' at Madison Square Garden in New York City...
    At the time the trio's "Leaving On A Jet Plane" was at #10 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; a little over six weeks earlier on December 14th, 1969 it had peaked at #1 {for 1 week}...
    {See the next post below}...
    * Some of the twelve others acts to appear at the concert were Judy Collins, Harry Belafonte, the Rascals, Richie Havens, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, and Blood, Sweat, & Tears...
    Sadly, Mary Allin Travers passed away on September 16th, 2009 at the age of 72…
    May she R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 18th 1969, "Leaving On A Jet Plane"* by Peter, Paul, and Mary entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #76; and eight weeks later on December 14th, 1969 it peaked at #1 {for 1 week} and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100...
    On November 16th, 1969 it reached #1 {for 3 weeks} on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Between 1962 and 1969 the trio had nineteen Top 100 records; six made the Top 10 with this one being their biggest and only # 1 hit...
    They just missed having three #1 records when "Puff the Magic Dragon" and "Blowin' in the Wind" both peaked at #2...
    R.I.P. Mary Travers {1936 - 2009}...
    * "Leaving On A Jet Plane" was the trio's 19th and last record to make the Top 100 chart.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhI 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.
  • Mac from Winterville , GaThis 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.
  • Kris from Destin, FlSorry 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 from Destin, FlMichael 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.".
  • Michael from Tidewater, NcOriginally 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.
  • John from Auckland, New ZealandSara, 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.
  • Rick from Belfast, MeJamie........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.......
  • Corinne from Center Conway, NhI 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!
  • Brian from Boston, MaJohn 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.
  • Jeff from Toronto, OnSuch 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.
  • Sara from Eckerty, InThis song is about a guy going off to war, he stops off to say goodbye to his girlfriend.
  • Brittany from Lakehaven, Australiathe song is just so amazeing i lovve it ever so much the person who made it was a genuous
  • Rajab from Benghazi, EgyptIt'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
  • Rob from Vancouver, Canadahow about Ben Afflecks version?....
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrOne of the MOST emotional songs ever.
  • Tom from Tulsa, OkNV, 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
  • Kyle from King George, Vathis song was also covered by me first and the gimme gimmes
  • Jamie from San Diego, CaThis 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.
  • Murph from Peoria, IlYes -- John Denver was piloting an experimental aircraft when it crashed.

    He was indeed a plane down to earth kind of guy.
  • Patrick from San Diego, Cathis song is also covered by a nad called Slightly Stoopid outa Ocean Beach,California.Its really good
  • Ariana from Lima, Perumxpx n frank sinatra have done covers of this song..my favourite line is "hold me like u'll never let me go"
  • Gino from Burbank, Cai 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!!!
  • Art from Sparks, Nvthis 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
  • Beckie from Atwater, CaI 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.
  • Rob Mccormick from Sydney, AustraliaI think he actually died in an ultra-light crash (not a jet plane).
  • Kim from Derby Uk, United Stateshey 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
  • Walter from Antwerp, BelgiumDidn't John Denver actually die in a plane crash ?
    It seems he has indeed left us on a jet plane.
  • Stew from Geelong, Australiathe Barron Knights also done a version..... Heaving on a jet plane
  • Brentley from Gibbon, Nemy 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
  • Karan from Bangalore, Indiawas this song also covered by simon and garfunkel??
  • Christy from Nashville, TnA reworked version of this song is the theme to A&E's "Airline".
  • Bon from Dallas, TxJohn Denver wrote this at the Lubbock, TX airport where he was a student at Texas Tech.
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