Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Nov 4 04:37:59 UTC 2005

At 5:49 PM -0600 11/3/05, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
>  > If chicken (the food) is flying everywhere around the plane (line
>3), why would everyone be feeling extremely fine (line 4)?

I spoke to that yesterday, claiming an ironic (or, if you prefer,
sarcastic) sense intended.  In addition, or instead, as I also
suggested, when you're flying stoned, a plane hitting an airpocket
sending the no doubt inedible chicken flying off the trays might well
led have led to a fit of the giggles.  No contradiction here.  (As I
dimly recall.)

>   Doesn't make sense; the plane would have hit an airpocket or gone
>into a tailspin.

Airpocket was my guess.

>  > On the other hand, if many of the passengers were getting high on
>one of the drugs which bear the name "chicken" (and passing it
>around to all the friends)

I found one reference to "chicken" for (a kind of?) methamphetamine
on the web.  I have no idea when the slang reference was extant.  I
doubt it would have been recognized by listeners at the time the song
was written or recorded, or quite possibly by Arlo Guthrie himself.
"Keys" for kilos of dope was extremely extant; no problem there.

>  that would explain line 4 quite nicely.
>>      As for the writer of the song later stating that he had food
>>in mind when he spoke of "chicken," I'd caution that the
>>song-writer might be engaging in
>>  malarkey. That's part of the fun for song-writers who write lyrics
>>with double-entendre.

I persist in only seeing a single entendre here, and I'm not
surprised that Arlo sees it that way too.


>  >
>>  Gerald Cohen
>>  [from Louis Nathan and then Russ McClay]:
>>  > Hi all,
>>  >      Could somebody enlighten me on the use of "chicken" in the following
>>  > stanza from Arlo Guthrie's 1960s song "Coming into Los Angeles",
>>which contains
>>  > drug slang elsewhere.?   I've missed this one.
>>  >
>>  >      Comin' in from London over the Pole
>>  >      Flyin' in a big airliner
>>  >      Chicken flyin' everywhere around the plane
>>  >      Could we ever feel much finer
>>  >
>>  >      Comin' into Los Angeles
>>  >      Bringinn' in a couple a keys
>>  >      Don't touch my bags if you please
>>  >      Mister customs man
>>  >
>>  According to a post on Arlos site, the reference is to chicken is about
>>  airline food:
>>  "I once asked Arlo what the heck he was talkin' about with the chicken.
>>  He said it was the airline food.
>>  I'll keep on posting this each time it comes up every year or so. Oh
>>  bother."
>>  (Good call, Larry)
>>  Russ

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