YouTunes: Pink Floyd and why don’t we pay for YouTube?


Today, after many years, I saw a video of a song which had a profound influence on my life.

This is probably my favourite video ever!

The song is Pink Floyd’s ‘Learning to fly’, and I saw it today on YouTube .

I spent (wasted!) most of the afternoon listening to this song.

On YouTube ..

For Free ..

The video of Learning to fly is deeply symbolic and metaphysical . It speaks of a young man leaving his secure existence and then ‘learning to fly’ at the risk of falling off a cliff.

I first heard that song when I was in a boring job in India and considered a job overseas – something which was a huge leap for me since I had never left India at that point.

I will talk more about why this video has deep symbolic meaning ..

However .. I must have viewed it at least 20 times this afternoon.

Why 20 times?

For one thing, I always found live performances of this song(and not the video which I was really looking for) – so even when I could see a DVD in store, there was no way of knowing if the DVD had the video(which I wanted) or the live performance(which I did not want). In case, you don’t know, Pink Floyd is actually more famous for its live performances (So, you get mostly live performances than video in DVDs)

Secondly, the search facility of finding video in YouTube is very useful(metadata is almost as useful as the data) as is a fundamental principle of Web 2.0 and we say in Mobile Web 2.0

Thirdly, the video had many other songs, which I may not like(although that’s not such a big issue in case of Pink Floyd!)

And finally of course, because I love the song and it has a deep meaning for me!

Let’s see where my allegiances lie: There are three players here: The producer(CBS/EMI), the artist(Pink Floyd) and the distributor(YouTube/Google)

Like many people, I am very much ‘pro’ Google.

I am a capitalist – hence I believe that CBS/EMI should get paid.

However, my biggest allegiance lies with Pink Floyd – who I definitely believe should be paid for my viewership!

Thus, most people, like me, are not opposed to paying and in fact, in this case, would be most happy to pay(for this particular song)

So, maybe what’s needed here is a iTunes like model for video (YouTunes!)

Maybe, micro pay for the song ‘third viewing onwards’?

This could well happen in my view

So, now coming back to why this song is so symbolic /metaphysical ..

There are other interpretations of this song – firstly it could be truly about ‘learning to fly’ since Dave Gilmour, who produced it, is a pilot . There is another explanation of ‘getting high’ on other things! But I prefer the metaphysical/transformational interpretation – which was so close to me when I first heard it.

Here is my interpretation ..

A young (possibly American Indian) man works on a mundane job(on a farm)

He is inspired by the hang glider and wants to fly

Cant keep my eyes from the circling skies; Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, i

But there is the sinister scarecrow in the background .. Doubts and the prophets of doom

At some point, the young man decides to fly

He is alone

No navigator to guide my way home

He goes to the cliff

He throws off his coat(his old persona)

He has almost flimsy instruments(feathers for wings) – the odds are against him

For one last time, the scarecrow appears – on the cliff!

And then he takes the leap ..

He flies ..

He soars above the scarecrow’s shack

And he transforms into a hawk .. And is thus metaphysically transformed

And he ends the song with

Theres no sensation to compare with this

Suspended animation, a state of bliss

Cant keep my eyes from the circling skies

Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, i

At the back of it all, there is a spirit who guides him .. as if to counter the evil scarecrow

Metaphorically.. The young man could be me (or you!).. Or for that matter anyone who has left home, embarked on a new venture, left a space of security and so on ..

Thus, it is an archetypal song

In fact, there was one comment on YouTube saying that it signified Dave Gilmour’s decision of managing Pink Floyd solo after Roger Waters left Pink Floyd!

So, I hope I see a (micro) PAID version of YouTube soon .. and that may not be such a bad thing for us all!

Lyrics from lyricsfreak

And here is the video! I hope you enjoy it. Its beautifully made with a wide angle lens(like Peter Jackson’s movies especially the Lord of the Rings)

Many thanks to my friend Claire Louise Hegarty – a Shaman .. for whom I was searching the song in the first place as an example of symbolic/metaphysical music videos.


  1. Ishan says:

    Hey ajit,
    what do you think about advertising for the songs, say when the video ends? This way, each time someone watches the song, the artist gets paid by the advertiser. The viewer dosent have to pay, and the artist gets paid. Its a all win win situation. Will you please be kind enough to mail me your comments, i dont come across this site often.
    Thank You
    [email protected]