At 30,000 Ft

Album: American Soldier (2009)


  • 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.


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