Behind the Meaning of Patty Griffin’s “Let Him Fly”

Patty Griffin’s “Let Him Fly” has been covered many times. The simple guitar melody and vocal showcase Griffin puts on in this song is endlessly inspiring. Find out why Griffin has decided to call it quits on love in this song, below.

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Behind the Meaning of Patty Griffin’s “Let Him Fly”

Ain’t no talkin’ to this man
Ain’t no pretty other side
Ain’t no way to understand the stupid words of pride
It would take an acrobat and I already tried all that
So I’m gonna let him fly

Griffin has a knack for delivering hard truths simply. In this song, she makes leaving as easy as breathing. When love becomes a tangled up mess–so much so that it would take an acrobatic to flip through all the twists and turns–there’s only one thing to do: let him fly.

In our opinion, Griffin’s best songs feature her vocals over a soft guitar line. The sparse production allows the listener to absorb every word she sings in this song–which is fortunate for anyone in need of its message.

There’s no mercy in a live wire
No rest at all in freedom
Choices we are given
It’s no choice at all

Griffin describes a partner who is hard to predict. She compares him to a live wire and explains that he prioritizes his freedom over anything else. It’s no choice at all, she sings, resigned to the idea of leaving.

She presents the idea of a breakup as something one doesn’t choose, but instead falls into. But you must always know / How long to stay and when to go, she sings. While many breakup songs are mournful, this song seems to be markedly detached. While Griffin’s vocals maintain a lot of emotion, she feels at peace. It’s a rarity for a song in this vein.

Revisit “Let Him Fly,” below.

Photo: Michael Wilson

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