This Flight Tonight - Which direction is the plane flying?

I’ve always though Joni was flying to the singee.

She’s meeting up with him but she’s not completely sold on the decision. She is is looking forward to some fun, but on the whole she knows it’s a mistake and she shouldn’t have gotten on that flight tonight. Thus the song is a bitter-sweet portrayal of love that you know is bad but you keep it feeding it nonetheless.

But today I read Wikipedia’s description, that Joni is flying away from the singee. She want to go back to him but for some unstated reason has to leave. This leaves the song a well crafted, beautifully sung, yet somehow insipid.

In your mind, which way is the plane flying?

Away from the singee. And in California, Coming Home (don’t remember the real title) she is flying back to him.

She’s excited because she’s flying to a gig that will advance her career, but has misgivings because she’s leaving her man behind, it could be a big mistake, because LA !

That’s what I always imagined anyway.

I knew Joni wrote the song, but have only ever heard the Nazareth cover. Just heard the Joni version on YouTube for the first time.

Blue is my favorite Joni Album, but I haven’t played if in years. A quick look at the lyrics makes it seem like she’ll be landing in Vegas and that she’s leaving a hot but not extremely compatible lover. And considering his problems – broken car and no heat (presumably furnace) – he’s probably less wealthy than Joni. And the furnace issue makes me think he doesn’t live in LA.

It seems pretty similar in theme to Carey, except that she’s already left and the relationship seems to be domestic rather than foreign.

The gossipy answer is that she was leaving James Taylor at the Two-Lane Blacktop shoot, where purportedly a crappy time was had by all. Forgot where I read this, so no cite.

I am clearly in the minority - and on re-reviewing the lyrics, yes I am mistaken.

What convinced me I was wrong is that the opening of the song, up to and including the first instance of the refrain, is nothing but positive commentary on the singee. This sets up any negativity later as merely reflecting on the less that perfect relationship she is leaving.

I argue, though, the song is more interesting the way I originally thought - i.e. she is rekindling a sub-par relationship against her better judgement.

If you accept this premise, the beginning of the song is ironic and the refrain is a delightful conflict between “you’ve got the lovin’ that I like, sure - but I still really shouldn’t have got on this flight…”

There’s a thematic tie to “Case of You” later on the album (stretch with me here):

Clearly in “Case of You” she’s not buying this star metaphor nonsense. Maybe the star he gave her between the trailers was also lame.

She’s landing and her thoughts turn to things that are relevant to the visit. If he’s supposed to pick her up then later get snuggly - functioning heat and automobiles are important. Throw onto that the “I hope it’s better” i.e. “Last time sucked. Why am I here? I shouldn’t have got on this flight.”

Whichever direction the plane is flying, the relationship has problems “you’ve got that look so cynical”, "sometimes I think love is just mythical.

But if she’s landing to meet him, that makes the “blackness, blackness dragging me down / come on light a candle in this poor heart of mine” reinforce the “this is a mistake, but hope springs eternal - please let it be okay this time”

Is this song a Necker cube - you can view it either way and switch back and forth at will?

Or (more likely) am I trying too hard?

It never entered my mind, to coin a phrase. The guys come and go and she is the more talented and fascinating in each case. If she was coming or going it was only going to be temporary and so it doesn’t matter. When I hear it I’m always just with her on a plane in the conflicted feeling. Think she wasn’t going to be able to replace JT?

But she does say “You got the lovin that I like (implying : so you should) turn this crazy bird around…I shouldn’t have got on…” (Because it’s taking me away from him)