Stephen Stills - Treetop Flyer Lyrics

I could be a rambler from the seven dials
I don't pay taxes 'cause I never file
I don't do business that don't make me smile
I love my aeroplane 'cause she's got style
I'm a treetop flyer

I'll fly any cargo, that you can pay to run the bush league pilots, they just can't get the job done
Got to fly down into the canyon, ya' don't ever see the sun
There's no such thing as an easy run
For a treetop flyer
I'm flyin' low, I'm in high demand

Go fifteen feet over the Rio Grande
I'll blow the mesquite right up of off the sand
Seldom seen, especially when I land
I'm a treetop flyer
Born Survivor

People been asking me, "Where'd you learn to fly that way?"
Ot was over in Vietnam, chasin' NVA
The government taught me, and they taught me right,
Stay down, under the treeline, you might be alright
Treetop flyer

So I'm comin' home, I'm runnin' low and fast
I promised my woman this is gonna be my last
I get the ship down, I tie her fast
Then some old boy walks up, and he says "Hey son" wanna' make some fast cash?
I'm a treetop flyer

Well there's things I am, and there's things I'm not
I am a smuggler and I could get shot
I ain't going to die, I ain't goin' to get caught,
See I'm a flyin' fool, in an aeroplane that's just too hot
I'm a treetop flyer
Born survivor
I usually work alone

Other Lyrics by Artist

Rand Lyrics

Stephen Stills Treetop Flyer Comments
  1. Yazbit

    I could be a rambler from the seven dials
    I don't pay taxes 'cause I never file
    I don't do business that don't make me smile
    I love my aeroplane 'cause she's got style
    I'm a treetop flyer
    I will fly any cargo you can pay to run
    These bush league pilots just can't get the job done
    Got to fly down into the canyons, never see the sun
    There's no such thing as an easy run
    For a treetop flyer
    I'm flyin' low, I'm in high demand
    Fly fifteen feet off the Rio Grande
    I'll blow the mesquite right up off the sand
    Seldom seen, especially when I land
    I'm a treetop flyer
    Born Survivor
    People been asking me, "Where'd you learn to fly that way?"
    Was over in Vietnam, chasin' NVA
    The government taught me, and they taught me right,
    Stay under the treeline, and you might be alright
    I'm a treetop flyer
    So I'm comin' home, I'm runnin' low and fast
    I promised my woman this is gonna be my last
    I get the ship down, I tie her fast
    Then some old boy walks up, says "Hey son, you wanna make some fast cash?"
    I'm a treetop flyer
    Well there's things I am, and there's things I'm not
    I am a smuggler and I could get shot
    Aint going to die, I ain't goin' to get caught,
    'Cause I'm a flyin' fool and my aeroplane is just too hot
    I'm a treetop flyer
    Born survivor
    Usually work alone

  2. George Manifase

    Yes, fascinated!!!

  3. Johnny Rotten

    10 foot tall and bulletproof..

  4. Matthew Engle

    . . .lived this life , got 2 greedy, tho. U.S lawmen took my "toy".An put ME away 4 awhile. Been a good boy since. ya live n ya learn. MrStills n Mr Frey keepit ,um, "REAL" ta balance it all out .This song is THE BEST! ! ! Know it. Accept it. an TELL YER KIDS ! ! !

  5. George Manifase

    Move it Winkle

  6. Benjamin Ellis

    Mr amazing!!!

  7. stevieray56

    “Treetop Flyer” is from 1991's Stills Alone album, a recording of nearly all unaccompanied mostly-original acoustic songs. The album got mixed reviews, many from people who took issue with the processed sound of Stills’ Martin guitar. But a great song is a great song, and “Treetop Flyer” is one of Stills’ finest. It’s the story of a Vietnam vet who came home from the war with a marketable new skill: the ability to fly under the radar. When these pilots returned from combat to a public that often shunned them, and wouldn’t give them a job or help them deal with what they’d been through, they found a way to make money with this skill in running drugs, guns, and whatever other contraband someone would pay them to deliver.

    Stills sings in the first person for this song’s six verses – no chorus, no bridge – and really sounds like he is the “Treetop Flyer,” or as if he definitely knows someone who was. This song has conflict, greed, danger, and a romantic relationship – all the pieces that make a song important and memorable. At least one troubadour of the current generation was so influenced by this song that he decided to make music his career. Ray LaMontagne credits Stills’ song with prompting him to make the decision that his life would be music and nothing else. “It was ‘Treetop Flyer’ off a solo record that Stills had done, which really knocked me out,” LaMontagne told NPR.

    “Treetop Flyer” stands out as one of Stills’ best pieces of work. He still sometimes performs this song live with his band The Rides, with guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

    A word of caution if you decide you want to learn how to play this song. Before you drive yourself nuts trying to figure it out: Stills’ guitar is tuned to the DADGAD tuning, sometimes known as Celtic tuning or Bensusan (as in Pierre Bensusan) tuning. And beware of lyric sites that say the words in the fifth verse are “I get the shit down, I tie it fast” – Stills is really singing “ship,” not “shit.”

  8. michael smith

    Love this mans music but hate his politics.

  9. Joey Benoit

    The most important question is how does America recuperate and merge into being an actual democracy! After a coup d'etat! My President Johnson the CIA and other freaks? Please release the unredacted transcripts pertaining to blowing Kennedy's brains out!

  10. Joey Benoit

    Who killed Bobby Kennedy? Martin Luther King? Who tried to assassinate Reagan? Who's trying to kill your ass right now? The CIA! Do the research and see!!!!

  11. Joey Benoit

    You kids should learn the truth! Who blew Kennedy's brains out? Right Lyndon b Johnson and mr. Hoover! Hoover was gay by the way!

  12. Joey Benoit

    Someone said that the Vietnam vets were never spit on! I was born in San Francisco! Raised in Berkeley! Soldiers were spent on! I can send you a film! But don't be repugnant!

  13. Russ Wollet

    Here I am at 33. 27 years after hearing this song for the first time, playing it at the dinner table for my 6 and 2 yr old.

  14. MaryAnne Weldon

    One afternoon,my boss came up to me,knowing I've studied CSN &Y religiously,and handed a cassette tape of this track. He said "I flew in Vietnam over the treeline. My job was to flush out the V.C for the Cobra boys above to blow to hell" Steve was and is one hell of a guy and he loved this song because it brought back alot of memories.I never ask a Vet about their time in war,as I'm sure we all know not to. But he said his hitch in Nam was his duty to his country And that's all right by me. Love to all you Tree Top boys...and to your brothers who made the ultimate sacrifice. MIA/POW🇺🇸❤💪🇺🇸 We love you and respect you always.

  15. Robert Daugherty

    Fucking awesome! His Best version!

  16. Greg Miller

    O2 Sky Master

  17. fred linne

    dedicated my late step father Waynesie dropping shit on the dinks in his 105

  18. Timothy Roy

    @2:00 - He just lets ‘er go.. Here goes a solid musician.

  19. George Manifase

    What a shame it is to be a winner. You must destroy everything in your wake. Never would I consider. I come to understand if you wanna be on top you must roll like a tank. Ignorance is your best Allie. Not by nature. That's what brought me here. Nature's a bitch. Truth. Only the strong survive. Take it from the weak.

  20. Rhonda Anderson

    For the love of death and money

  21. Joey Benoit

    Really appreciate your love for loving and serving my country!

  22. Joey Benoit

    I learned in Vietnam came home and then you guys spit on us!

    Red Amy

    Never happened. Not one documented case.

  23. Joey Benoit

    I always run below the radar!!!!!! I was a treetop flyer!

  24. George Manifase

    Hand on your shoulder. "Just stay under the treeline. Ya might just be alright" a parting pat on the ass. Thank you for your service soldier. Side note we don't usually work alone.

  25. tree man

    Pure adrenaline makes me feel like God like metallic does

  26. Phillip Wells

    Are you?

  27. Benjamin Ellis

    I was lucky enough to discover Stephen Stills when I was 18 in Israel and he has been my life life long musical hero ❤️❤️

  28. Taco fan

    Shout out to pale horse flying them supply runs in the pesch river valley Afghanistan

    Thereis Hope

    Taco fan -a True Hero

  29. Tveshag

    Absolutely Awesome,Oh My God.....
    Thank You For Sharing Quality Music.God Bless You!

  30. George Manifase

    Southern Cross Boss

  31. Tyler Anderson

    One mean song

  32. hoosieryank67

    I don't say "thank-you" sounds cheap and hollow. I think if you really want to thank a veteran...give him a job with dignity and respect.

  33. Jack Curry

    This song inspired Ray Montagne to start his career as a musical artist

    Cee Jay

    Whoa! Didn’t know this at all. Love Ray, love Stills. Especially the Manassas years.

  34. Ray Zaballa

    You can tell who the Justin Bieber fans are - the ones with the thumbs down.

  35. tommy durkin

    I love music too dude but the man is telling you the truth diluted making into a happymeal size soundbite for the filicidal to feed his child to the beast haha i hate children too but listen to me i want your soul hahaha

  36. tommy durkin

    Gotta love drug smugglers and the cia iran contra freeway rick ross Air America barry seal and drums of dope coming outta Afghanistan the game never changes just dollar bills and guess what we bring the drugs in fentanyl and death scripts baby

  37. Abbie Johnso

    Was this written for Barry Seals?

  38. Lovingevery minuteofit69

    Love a laid back sound like this....such a raw and rich sound that just makes it even more enjoyable...

  39. John Reynolds

    great singer. brings back memories of a bygone era.

  40. Julian No

    Stills Dad was prime Military. Look it up.

  41. James Baines

    I could be a rambler from the seven dials, I don't pay TAXES cause I NEVER file...Q- 0101010100110 SHOE PROGRAM N**** !!!!!

  42. Ed Pringle

    Awesome Steve Again Bravo !

  43. Blake Gregory

    Awesome.....No one plays like this today

  44. Timidater

    I want to thank all you vets for your service!!! Im praying for you!!!!!

  45. casey spargo

    He needs a mustache.

  46. George Moore

    eat your heart out, neil young!

  47. Turtle152

    Who else would think to write a song about flying an airplane as low as possible?

  48. xmxm g

    Steel ball run anyone?

  49. Lee James the one and only.

    Taught me right.
    Love to all.
    " bush league pilots " [email protected]!!
    Ya might be alright....Hhmmmm❓
    Thx 4 all of the luv.
    Repay cumin......
    Follow ,not leaders.......

  50. c ball

    Lyrics to live by

  51. Benjamin Davenport

    Master Jedi first class

  52. Ramon Sanchez

    This song was dedicated to Barry Seal. RIP Mr. Seal too bad our government is a piece of shit sellouts. 🚁🚁

  53. Turtle152

    Steve"s a triple threat: he can sing, write and play, and he's good at all three.

  54. Taco love

    Low and fast!

  55. Darcy McEwen

    Enjoy..KICK ASS!! Proud

  56. Marsh Donald

    Should've been in GTA5

    - XxJimmyPagexX -

    Marsh Donald true

  57. Corey Schaedig

    So, cool fact.

    This song inspired Ray Lamontagne to quit his job and become a singer/songwriter.

    Aaron Martinez

    Corey Schaedig another cool fact this song Encourage me to go outside and smoke a joint


    @Aaron Martinez Well said!

  58. Vicki Murray

    Frank Zappa wanna be

  59. Aaron Martinez

    This sounds like I'd be in red dead redemption

    - XxJimmyPagexX -

    Aaron Martinez holy shit dude you read my mind.

  60. B Colman

    Such a badass song, love his solo stuff!

  61. Tony Brisson

    great jam......dont get caught....

  62. The Graham

    I'm a flying fool, with a aeroplane that's just too hot...

  63. Taco love

    Roll with it !

  64. Happy Camper

    Tree top flyer... awesome toon

  65. Marsh Donald

    When I was oh 15 (I'm 19 now) I was listening to this song and I got the idea to join the Air Force, ride out my contract and become a smuggler. But now I'm a fleet mechanic. Where did I fuck up

  66. itriedmany


  67. IrishnPNW

    Stephen, you still HAVE A STRONG HOLD on my heart....I was in Vietnam as a nurse back in 1967...made it back in time to sit up in Woodstock to see you and your group CSNY... breaks my heart you all broke up and are unhappy with David are all better than THAT...step up, forgive...and revisit that lovely woven cloth that made ALL OF YOU the strong representation of music you shared....I survived 'Nam.... surely you can survive your differences and be friends again... David would love for you all to come back together as friends...I would relish that thought... hugs to you, Stephen...

  68. Jcrass23

    Fuck yeah

  69. Allen Leonard

    Shake the hand of the mango man when he greets you at the border ''' secondary inspection ? But sir !

  70. Janine Lawrence

    Wish I had a copy of this. Phenomenal! What a voice. What a player. Surely Stephen Stills should be up there with Clapton and Hendrix - well, he’s high above them in my book!

  71. Stan Mann

    Born survivor. FU Navy medicine. I didn't die before I was 20.

  72. pilebuck38

    Drawing enemy fire staying above the tree line rip Vietnam Huey pilots


    I was a nurse back then...and know the heartbreak, hurt, blood...and this DAY I still jump when I hear a loud sound....pile...hope you are safe and well...and life is blessing you...

    I live in a senior home opened in 2014 over here in Tacoma. Washington...just under flight line for Mchord air base...i am up on the 4th floor...the top...and I hope I can afford to live here till they take me out feet first... keep running into folks who were part of that awefulness... just happy I am here now and can sing...and listen to the music here on YouTube....mmmmmm woodstock comes to mind....GRIN....I was born in Woodstock, Illinois...fitting there is a song that celebrated ....not that horror of a war...but the peeps who had the guts to go over there....and get thru it.... unless you have been that time...those will NEVER understand the lifelong indention that era had on your life... so... to all the men and ladies I watched over, bandaged, held hands with....gave shots...THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE....and thank you for letting me be a nurse to cover your wounds...write your family letters...pray with you...sit with you when you were frightened out of your wits...I know your pain.... even today...some of you who went thru that horror are still grapling with that pain... I'm here today.... just wish I could help you all...stay strong and positive...know you did a good thing back then...please??? know that....I LOVE YOU ALL.....

  73. Minong Maniac

    My theme song. 😉 🙉🙈🙊

  74. Dick Scrubbins

    What the fuck is wrong with people that thumb down this song??

  75. Red Amy

    It went both ways. In the early 80's old USAF guys used to load TV's, cases of Dove soap, and expensive tape players outta Laredo in Cessna 206's souithbound in the same hangars Border Patrol maintained and refueled their Piper Cubs in.


    I always wondered what my dad thought....he was a naval aviator flying off the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier during WW two... hmmm

  76. Jerry Hartlein

    A unique Brotherhood....lot of folks dreamed about...a few actually did it.

  77. Stephen Stone

    Just pure excellence.

  78. Leonard Weeks

    i have been looking for this song for years!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i never new who wrote or sang it so it was a hard song to find!!!!!! 7/3/19

  79. Taco love

    Like no body's business.

  80. Jack Shit The Last American Hero

    I feel like a tree top flyer when I'm running across town to pick up a bag o' weed.

    Jim Peluso

    I bet you don't want legal weed, what fun would that be?

    Jack Shit The Last American Hero

    @Jim Peluso No ... I dont like it legal.

  81. Mud Man

    Backbone of csny

  82. Born In Shithole Country

    Genius, the most undervalued artist of the 60's IMO.

    - XxJimmyPagexX -

    Born In Shithole Country probably the most truthful thing anyone has ever said.

  83. Douglas R

    390 dislikes, I don't think they understand the words to this beautiful written song.

  84. Jordi Sanabra Valle

    Clapton is God....Stills too....

  85. Aaron Delisle

    Still not paying taxes in 2019, come get me, dickbags.

    Minong Maniac

    Someone you know and trust is one of US.

    Michael Argueta

    A guy did a meme about filling a cropduster plane with ammonia and chlorine and chasing down the uhhh alphabet fed boys if they entered his property. Gold. Soundtrack of the Big Luau.

  86. Christopher Nichols

    It's " I may be a rambler from the seven isles" a section of Ft. Lauderdale.

  87. Paul Henn

    Treetop Flyer Lone Survivor

  88. Donna PETERKIN

    It ain’t new ya’ll. One cut is demo, pretty cool, starts over the beginning couple, 3 times, mebbe. Think ‘67/68. Anyhoo, he did, certainly did, get AirPlay, at least down here in the Dirty South, N.O., La.,so y’all musta got it before us, up North, West Coast the 90’s, “Stills..Alone”. Did not play it at Jazz Fest that year, but he’s spectacular and so is the song. PS. Why would y’all think he’s underrated? CHes super acknowledged musically by any and all great musicians and, dare I say it, fairly well known🤔🤔🤔🤔.

  89. Jenn Hill

    Good looking, good voice, writing, playing. What's not to like?
    Well, he used to have a hellatious temper & a type A personality, but he appears to have mellowed a bit with age & marriage.
    I love his music.

  90. Phillip Wells


  91. Steven F Solmon

    Every American truck driver who is old school can identify with this song and its sentiment.
    I am talking veterans of the highway... Not trucking school grads... People who have been on the line for this nation for decades.... I know that Stephen Stills references airplanes or aircraft in the song but it can be applied to 18 wheelers quite nicely.

  92. Eric L Krepps Sr

    Usually work alone

  93. Phillip Wells

    I'm going to learn this on my new red guitar

  94. two arrows

    Can't be a tree top flyer anymore, tracking systems are too powerful now. Today this would be called 'Tunnel Digger' or 'Butt Smuggler'.

  95. Lucy Star

    Just discovered Mr Stills by chance and I'm blown away!
    Love the simplicity and authenticity of this song.

    - XxJimmyPagexX -

    Lucy Star yay new fans. How did you discover him ?

    Lucy Star

    @- XxJimmyPagexX - I watch a lot of different music on YouTube and it makes suggestions based on what I'm into, at that moment I was enjoying a nostalgia trip with some 60's songs and Treetop Flyer popped up. I really enjoy discovering any songs that instantly go on my list of favourites, this is one of them. It took me a while to make the Crosby, Stills and Nash connection LOL 😁 I'm a big Zeppelin fan by the way Mr Page 💜🎸🎵

  96. Jane Bute

    I so totally forgot this song!! Now I remember why I loved it.


    This songs goes deep.. real shit.. I have loved this all my life..

  98. Industrial Prostitute

    Forever a classic

  99. Phillip Wells