At 30,000 Ft

Album: American Soldier (2009)
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • According to Queensrÿche's official website, American Soldier tells the story of war "from a firsthand perspective." Vocalist Geoff Tate explained on Queensryche's discussion forum that, "this song is about a pilot and his experience, which is very different from ground personnel. Pilots have a very different perspective on things, a very different job." He added: "The song deals with this particular soldier's feelings of being separate from the devastation he is inflicting. He's above it all, flying 30,000 feet in the air, dropping bombs on targets. He's not involved in hand-to-hand ground combat. He said that it's a strange feeling to know that you've just wiped out an entire city with a touch of a button, and then you're back at the base, watching reruns of a TV show. It's just another day at the office. There's no emotional attachment to it like a guy who was in a platoon and may have lost buddies. The pilot is dealing with a whole different set of issues that are a lot harder to define...
    I wrote this song, and then months later I got a chance to play it for Lynn, the pilot whom I wrote it about. We have it on camera. He was reading it, and tears were running down his face. I asked him what moved him, and he said the line, 'The tortured, painful cries will never fall upon my ears, and never stain my elder years. My heartbeat is all I'll feel.' He was disconnected from it all at the time, but now he thinks about it regularly.
    There is a very effective musical section during the solo where Michael used the guitar to be representative of an airplane flying over the city dropping missiles and bombs, very chaotic."
  • This song is typical of Geoff Tate's late-era Queensrÿche songwriting. Tate has a penchant for narrative-driven songs, often exploring a more universal idea or theme through a very specific and narrow lens. In this case, it's the dispassion left in the wake of depersonalized killing, and how the guilty party (in this case the bomber) reconciles with it.
Please sign in or register to post comments.


Be the first to comment...

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"They're Playing My Song

Dean's saga began with "Ariel," a song about falling in love with a Jewish girl from New Jersey.

Booker T. JonesSongwriter Interviews

The Stax legend on how he cooked up "Green Onions," the first time he and Otis Redding saw hippies, and if he'll ever play a digital organ.

Did They Really Sing In That Movie?Fact or Fiction

Michael J. Fox, Colin Farrell, Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow and George Clooney: Which actors really sang in their movies?

Band NamesFact or Fiction

Was "Pearl" Eddie Vedder's grandmother, and did she really make a hallucinogenic jam? Did Journey have a contest to name the group? And what does KISS stand for anyway?

Rickie Lee JonesSongwriter Interviews

Rickie Lee Jones on songwriting, social media, and how she's handling Trump.

Tim Butler of The Psychedelic FursSongwriter Interviews

Tim and his brother Richard are the Furs' foundation; Tim explains how they write and tells the story of "Pretty In Pink."