Way back in the late ’70’s, I saw a band called The Hometown Band do an amazing song called, “(Fear of) Flying”. I was actually at Maple Leaf Gardens to see another band — incongruously, I think it might have been Frank Zappa — when this folky band came on and blew me away.
The singer, Shari Ulrich, looked to be barely more than a girl, with her long hair and peasant dress, but when she sang, there was such joy and power in the vocal. As the lyrics say, “Won’t you play one for me… Here we go… Touch my soul!” I bought the record as soon as I could and this became one of my favourite songs and remains so to this day.
Help me out of this space
And I don’t want to lose in the race
Everything we do
Is just another trying
And some never lose
The fear of flying
The song was written by Joe Mock and originally performed by Ulrich with The Pied Pumkin, but it was a hit for The Hometown band, with the album selling close to 50,000 copies on the strength of three hit singles. Their second album failed to produce a charting single, leading their record company to cut off their tour support the night before the band won a Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year. Ulrich has continued as a solo performer, and I was fortunate to catch her in Vancouver playing an outdoor show during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Here is a live recording of (Fear of) Flying by The Hometown Band in 1977 (in the days before music videos!), with an introduction by Canadian folk icon, Valdy, delivered in a particularly ’70’s style.