This classic pop song was inspired by a book the lyricist John Lang read called The Broken Wings, which was written by the Lebanese poet-philosopher Kahlil Gibran. The book, which was written in 1912, is a story of a love that is doomed by social convention.
Its theme is echoed in this song: picking up the pieces of your life and moving on. There is a note of heartbreak, however, as the singer is asking the girl to spread her wings and fly away, hoping that love will bring her back.
The line, "Take these broken wings and learn to fly" appears in The Beatles song "Blackbird." Paul McCartney and John Lennon both drew from the work of Kahlil Gibran, as the first two lines of The Beatles "Julia" came from Gibran's 1926 poem Sand And Foam: "Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it just to reach you, Julia."
John Lang wrote this song with Mr. Mister frontman Richard Page and guitarist Steve George. According to Page, they were at his home in California when the three of them came up with the song in about 20 minutes and recorded it on Page's tape machine.
This was the first single from Mr. Mister's second album. Their record company, RCA, wanted to release an uptempo song first, but the band fought them on it and won out. Released ahead of the album, the song went to #1 US in December 1985, marking a breakthrough for the band, whose biggest hit from their first album was "Hunters of the Night," which peaked at #57.
The video shows Richard Page driving a Thunderbird convertible through a parched Los Angeles landscape. He comes to a church, where a hawk arrives for divine guidance, and continues his journey, which takes him to the ocean.
The black-and-white clip was directed by Oley Sassone, who would go on to direct episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. In our interview with Sassone, he explained: "The subtext of the story and what I wanted the audience to feel was our hero's own backstory in his mind. The tango dancers, juxtaposed with the images of him getting lost while driving, tossing a map and instead following the hawk overhead was, symbolically, his own soul, his own voice deep inside telling him to carry on - to lead him to a new path, a new beginning."VH1 went on the air in 1985, the same year this song was released. The video did very well on the network, and also on MTV, which was only four years old but had become kingmaker in the industry.
The driving scenes in the video were shot at the oil fields near Los Angeles International Airport, and also along the Pacific Coast Highway in Palos Verdes. The church is the San Fernando Mission, a historic building in the Mission Hills district of Los Angeles.
Clay Aiken covered this on his 2006 album A Thousand Different Ways, adding an original poem spoken by Erin Taylor. Richard Page of Mr. Mister was very complimentary of Aiken's version of the song.
In 2001, this song was sampled for a posthumous Tupac Shakur song "Until The End Of Time," which featured Richard Page. It only reached #52 in the US but peaked at #4 in the UK.