Flying Home

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"Flying Home"
Song by Benny Goodman Sextet
RecordedNovember 6, 1939
Composer(s)Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman
Lyricist(s)Sid Robin

"Flying Home" is a jazz and jump blues composition written by Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton with lyrics by Sid Robin.[1] It was reportedly developed around a tune Hampton whistled as he nervously waited for his first flight on an aircraft.[2]

It was first recorded by the Benny Goodman Sextet on November 6, 1939, featuring solos by Hampton and Charlie Christian. Several other groups recorded the tune. In 1942 Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra recorded the song with a tenor saxophone solo by nineteen-year-old Illinois Jacquet. The song became the climax for live shows, and Jacquet was exhausted from having to play it every night. Singer Chris Connor recorded the song for Atlantic Records and released it as a single in 1959. Harry James recorded a version in 1965 on his album New Versions of Down Beat Favorites (MGM).

Ella Fitzgerald recorded a seven-minute-plus version for the album Digital III at Montreux (1979). Lullabies of Birdland includes another version by Fitzgerald that The New York Times called "one of the most influential vocal jazz records of the decade...Where other singers, most notably Louis Armstrong, had tried similar improvisation, no one before Miss Fitzgerald employed the technique with such dazzling inventiveness."[3]

"Flying Home" is mentioned in The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965).[2] In 1996 it won a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. It is featured with a Lindy Hop dance arrangement in the film Malcolm X (1992).

Ralph Ellison named a short story (1944) after the song that became the title of a posthumous collection.[4] Flying Home (1978) is the title of a novel by Morris Lurie. Lurie uses references to jazz in his stories.[5]


  1. ^ "Original versions of Flying Home". Secondhand Songs. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  2. ^ a b Rickert, David (22 August 2005). "Lionel Hampton: "Flying Home"". All About Jazz. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  3. ^ Holden, Stephen (16 June 1996). "Ella Fitzgerald, the Voice of Jazz, Dies at 79". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  4. ^ Ellison (1998). Flying home and other stories (1st Vintage International ed.). New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 9780679776611.
  5. ^ Lurie, Morris (1978). Flying home. Victoria: Outback Press. ISBN 9780868880594.