Learn to Fly

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"Learn to Fly"
Single by Foo Fighters
from the album
There Is Nothing Left to Lose
Released September 18, 1999
Format CD
Genre Post-grunge
Length 3:55
Label Roswell/RCA
Writer(s) Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel and Taylor Hawkins
Certification Gold (RIAA)[1]
Gold (CRIA)[2]
Foo Fighters singles chronology
"Walking After You"
"Learn to Fly"
"Stacked Actors"
Alternative cover

"Learn to Fly" is the first single from the Foo Fighters' third album There Is Nothing Left to Lose, released in 1999.

Release and reception[edit]

The "Learn to Fly" single was released as a two disc CD set in the UK and Australia, as well as in Europe, and promotional singles were also released in other countries such as the US for radio play.[3] In the US it was the band's first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 charting at number 19,[4] and was the band's first #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.[5] It is also their highest charting on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart along with the 1996 hit "Big Me", reaching #13.[6]

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song was directed by Jesse Peretz and won the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video.[7]

The music video for the song takes place on an commercial airliner, parodying the movie Airplane!, and by extension, the films Airport 1975 and its sequel Airport '77. Two airline mechanics (played by Jack Black and Kyle Gass from Tenacious D) smuggle and hide their narcotic known as "World Domination brand 'Erotic' Sleeping Powder"[8] in the coffee-maker. This ends up incapacitating everyone who drinks the coffee. The take off sequence, in addition to the crew members hiding ulterior criminal motives, are a near shot-by-shot homage to the film Airport '77. The band, having avoided the coffee (choosing liquor instead), mirroring Karen Black's role in Airport 1975, find themselves forced to land the plane. For the video, each band member (Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel, and Taylor Hawkins) portrays himself as well as several other roles, including an FBI agent who arrests the two mechanics.

2015 tribute video[edit]

On July 30, 2015 a video was published on YouTube of 1,000 Italian musicians in Cesena, Italy all playing and singing the song in unison, followed by a plea for the Foo Fighters to come play a concert in Cesena.[9][10][11] By August 16 it had gained more than 22 million views.[12]

On July 31 Dave Grohl responded, in Italian, thanking the makers for "the beautiful video" and adding "Thank you so much. We're coming, I swear. We'll see each other soon."[13][14] On November 3, 2015, in response, Foo Fighters performed 27-song concert in Cesena for approximately 3,000 people, starting their set with Learn to Fly.[15]

In August 2015, nearly 16 years after its initial release, the single entered the Austrian Singles Chart at number 69 and the Swiss Singles Chart at number 41.[16]

Other versions[edit]

A live version recorded in Sydney Australia on January 24, 2000 was released on the Australian "Generator" single and CD 1 of Breakout.

Track listing[edit]

Disc 1
  1. "Learn to Fly"
  2. "Iron and Stone" (The Obsessed cover)
  3. "Have a Cigar" (Pink Floyd cover)
Disc 2
  1. "Learn to Fly"
  2. "Make a Bet"
  3. "Have a Cigar" (Pink Floyd cover)
  1. "Learn to Fly"

7in Vinyl

1. "Learn to Fly

2. "Have a Cigar" (Pink Floyd cover)


Charts and certifications[edit]

Preceded by
"The Chemicals Between Us" by Bush
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks number-one single
November 6, 1999
Succeeded by
"The Chemicals Between Us" by Bush
Preceded by
Enemy by Days of the New
Canadian RPM Rock/Alternative 30 number-one single
November 15, 1999 – December 20, 1999
Succeeded by
"Take a Picture" by Filter


  1. ^ RIAA Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - Foo Fighters singles. RIAA.com.
  2. ^ "Gold & Platinum Certification – January 2010". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved February 22, 2011. 
  3. ^ Foo Fighters - Learn to Fly discogs.com. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  4. ^ Foo Fighters - Billboard Hot 100 Chart History billboard.com. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  5. ^ Foo Fighters - Billboard Alternative Songs Chart History billboard.com. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  6. ^ Foo Fighters - Billboard Radio Songs History billboard.com. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  7. ^ http://www.grammy.com/nominees/search?artist=Foo+Fighters&field_nominee_work_value=Learn+to+fly&year=All&genre=All
  8. ^ Foo Fighters FAQ. Accessed December 27, 2006
  9. ^ Rudgard, Olivia. "Video: 1,000 musicians play Foo Fighters song". Telegraph. Retrieved July 31, 2015. 
  10. ^ Nme.Com. "NME News Foo Fighters to play Italy gig after video of 1,000 fans covering 'Learn To Fly' goes viral". Nme.Com. Retrieved July 31, 2015. 
  11. ^ "1,000 musicians play Foo Fighters song to persuade concert - Videos". CBS News. Retrieved July 31, 2015. 
  12. ^ Video on YouTube
  13. ^ Video on YouTube
  14. ^ Dave Grohl. "We've translated Dave Grohl's Italian message to fans in Cesena - BBC Newsbeat". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved August 9, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Foo Fighters, Recruited by Viral Video, Play Unplanned Concert in Italy". NY Times. November 4, 2015. 
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Foo Fighters – Learn to Fly". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  18. ^ Brazil Hot 100 - 1999 - 2013 ivetesangalonews.files.wordpress.com. Retrieved April 18, 2016.
  19. ^ Canadian RPM Singles Chart Archive - Top Singles - Volume 70, No. 11, January 17 2000 collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  20. ^ Canadian RPM Alternative Chart Archive - Rock/Alternative - Volume 70, No. 11, January 17 2000 collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  21. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Foo Fighters search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  22. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Foo Fighters – Learn to Fly" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  23. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Foo Fighters – Learn to Fly". Top 40 Singles.
  24. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Foo Fighters – Learn to Fly". Singles Top 100.
  25. ^ "Foo Fighters: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company.
  26. ^ "Foo Fighters – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Foo Fighters.
  27. ^ "Foo Fighters – Chart history" Billboard Alternative Songs for Foo Fighters.
  28. ^ "Foo Fighters – Chart history" Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs for Foo Fighters.
  29. ^ "Foo Fighters – Chart history" Billboard Adult Pop Songs for Foo Fighters.
  30. ^ "Foo Fighters – Chart history" Billboard Pop Songs for Foo Fighters.
  31. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Foo Fighters – Learn to Fly" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  32. ^ "Lescharts.com – Foo Fighters – Learn to Fly" (in French). Les classement single.
  33. ^ Foo Fighters - Learn to Fly offiziellecharts.de. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  34. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Foo Fighters – Learn to Fly". Swiss Singles Chart.
  35. ^ Foo Fighters - Rock Digital Songs Chart history billboard.com. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  36. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2014 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Foo Fighters – Learn to Fly". Music Canada. Retrieved April 8, 2013. 
  38. ^ "British single certifications – Foo Fighters – Learn to Fly". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved January 7, 2015.  Enter Learn to Fly in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  39. ^ "American single certifications – Foo Fighters – Learn to Fly". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved April 8, 2013.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]