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Posted by an unknown Rust List - The Neil Young Community member.
I look at it this way. Flying was meant to be successful in Love. A relationship. A feather is something that is light and cannot support much of anything besides being a part of a bird.
So, my interpretation is that the narrator is talking about someone who was standing on something very insubstantial and was about to hurl themselves out into the abyss into the unknown. So they are trying to leap into the unknown from a very unstable foundation.
But get the next verse:
"While I laughed I wondered whether
I could say goodbye
Knowing that you'd gone"
The next verse rather undermines the first verse, don't you think? The narrator laughs(bitter sweetly?) The individual in question has already left the relationship with the narrator. Thus the first verse is past tense? The narrator seems to have had a problem with the breakup of the relationship. This totally puts the narrator's description of an unstable(feather) launchpoint and leaping into the unknown(fly)in question.
So, did the person who left the relationship think it was an unstable platform to launch into the unknown?
Is the person who left in question now in a successful relationship?
Or is this just the narrator reading into his own interpretation of the failed relationship?
On a prima facie observation the first two verses of Neil's "Expecting To Fly" are totally ambigious and can be interpreted to mean many things. But that is good writing.
Trivia on "Expecting To Fly": The song was used in Hal Ashby's 1978 film Coming Home during a love scene between a disabled vietnam vet played by Jon Voight and actress Jane Fonda.
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