Bessie Coleman by Fire Dog on Tuneful Tuesday

Today’s Tuneful Tuesday comes from member Mark Pagano’s Missouri based band, Fire Dog.

Fire Dog

This song has it’s roots in the summer of 2007. My friend’s little boys were running around the swimming pool at their parents’ house near Lambert International Airport. As planes flew overhead, Charlie, who was 4 years old at the time, said “sing airplane.”  Something about the summery scene inspired the surfer riff, and so the chorus for this song spontaneously came to be … “airplane flying high!”

This past summer when FIRE DOG was drumming up material for our first family album, “For the Kids,” I presented this piece of a song which I had enjoyed singing with kiddos over the years.  We agreed that it needed something and I began exploring what kind of “airplane” story FIRE DOG might tell through this song.  

In the wake of the racial tensions that erupted in our city that summer – the events that have since become simply known as Ferguson, though as people involved in the movement will remind you, Ferguson is everywhere – I began reading articles and having a lot of conversations about race with people in my community. One idea that continued to surface is that we as a culture to need to rediscover our history.  We need to tell new stories. Children in particular need new cultural heros now more than ever.  After more research, my bass player, Celia, learned about Bessie Coleman. I thought hers was an amazing story with a great message of perseverance in the face of adversity. Why had I never heard this story before? 

So we decided to tell it.  We worked out the verses and “Bessie Coleman” the song came to be. I am proud of this song, because it honors the story of a brave and incredible woman – an all but forgotten American hero. I hope that her story might inspire young people to overcome their obstacles and never give up their dream.  

Bessie Coleman, a black woman in the 1920’s

Had a dream to be a pilot and fly planes to make some money

But black women weren’t allowed in the flight schools of her day

So she learned some French, packed her bags, and left the U.S.A.

Airplane, Airplane, Airplane

Airplane flying high

Airplane, Airplane, Airplane

Airplane In the sky

Travelled to Paris, the earn a license

Studied with an ace

Daredevil maneuvers, loop de loops, dips, and figure eights

In time Bessie Coleman learned the art of aviation

Went back to New York City, became a media sensation

She blew away the audiences back in the U.S.A.

Bessie Coleman was a hero in the barnstorms of her day

People loved her everywhere, so much they called queen

She overcame the obstacles and never gave up her dream

Airplane, Airplane, Airplane

Airplane flying high

Airplane, Airplane, Airplane,

Airplane in the sky

1 comment

  1. Great. Love the stormy guitars, the great chorus, and that clarity of the lyrics!
    Thank you!

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