"This Flight Tonight" is a song by Joni Mitchell, from her 1971 album Blue. It tells of the singer's regrets as she leaves her lover on a flight and wishes to return. Its opening lines are:
Look out the left, the captain said The lights down there, that's where we'll land I saw a falling star burn up Above the Las Vegas sands
The final verse contains a minor aeronautical gaffe: "Up go the flaps, down go the wheels", when referring to the landing of the plane. A plane will lower, rather than raise flaps when landing. Furthermore the landing gear (with the wheels) is often lowered first to create drag and slow or maintain airspeed on a descent, before the flaps are moved, so the sequence is also wrong.[original research?]
UK hard rock band Nazareth reworked the song in 1973 to make it their own with a powerful, driving hard-rock treatment which was a hit in Canada, Germany (where it reached number one) and the UK. It was produced by Roger Glover. The single reached number 11 in the UK charts in November 1973.
The Dunfermline hard-rockers Nazareth loved Blue. You remember them: the gap-toothed vocalist, Dan McCafferty, had hair like a kitchen scourer and a voice to match. They were bad, bad boys. Among the tracks on their 1973 album Loud 'n' Proud, produced by the former Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, is a taut version of "This Flight". "We used to listen to Joni as we were travelling round in the van," recalls Nazareth's bass-player, Pete Agnew. "'This Flight Tonight' was a big favourite."
Mitchell was impressed with the makeover: "When she was recording at A&M, we were just starting an American tour," explains Agnew. "We all happened to be in the studio the day the single was released, so we were introduced to her and told her what we had done. She said, 'What, with a rock band?'" Joni paid the Scottish band the greatest compliment after "This Flight Tonight" became a worldwide hit for them, touching down at No 11 in the UK. "She was playing a gig in London and told the audience: 'I'd like to open with a Nazareth song'!".