#456: Fly Across The Sea by Edward Bear
Peak Month: January 1972
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CKVN
Peak Position #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Fly Across The Sea”
Lyrics: “Fly Across The Sea”
In the mid-60’s Larry Evoy and Paul Weldon were jamming in basements and experimenting with blues rock tunes. In 1966 bass player Craig Hemmings and drummer Dave Brown formed a band with Evoy and Weldon. They got guitarist Danny Marks to join them after he answered an ad. (Marks left the band in 1970 and was replaced by Roger Ellis). After a year they settled on the name The Edward Bear Revue. They got the name from A.A. Milne’s children’s book, Winnie The Pooh, whose central character has the proper name of Edward Bear. In time the band shortened their name to Edward Bear. The band originally was a blues and rock band and opened in 1968 for a Toronto concert with Led Zeppelin as the headliner.
In 1969 Craig Hemmings left the band and was replaced with Bill Loop. Edward Bear released their first album, Bearings, on Capitol Records. A single from the album, “You, Me And Mexico”, made the Top Ten across Canada and #9 in Vancouver. Edward Bear released a second album titled Eclipse, in 1970. Two singles that were commercial failures and a calamitous tour led Danny Marks to quit the band. Fortunately, Edward Bear bounced back and released a self-titled album with solid singles among the tracks. “Fly Across The Sea” and “Masquerade” did well in Canada, and the latter made it to #10 in Vancouver. But “Fly Across The Sea” climbed to #4 here on the Canadian west coast.
“Fly Across The Sea” is about a woman who is living her life “on the other side of the world.” A man who lives a continent away is captivated by her. She regards her brother as “her king.” The man on the other side of the world tries to help her “get up off her knees.” But when he travels to the other side of the world and tries to help her, the lyrics tell us “suddenly she dies.” Consequently, the man didn’t get “to help her anymore.”
Is this man who flies across the sea her brother, who won’t get to help her anymore? Or is this another man who has come to know her and is more romantically involved, but from a great distance? Plausibly, different listeners could argue for either interpretation. But, the guy who wants to fly across the sea wants to “help her get off on her knees.” So, this is plausibly her brother who used to be helpful in that way when the two siblings both lived at home/in the same town.
We don’t know from the lyrics why she died. There are no health issues, car accident, suicide or other possible reasons given. She just suddenly died. The man drawn to her couldn’t have known she would die. So, this song is not trying to give us a lesson in timing. Things happen in life that are unexpected. There is such a thing as fate, and the song can be pointed to as a reminder that we need to seize the day. No one knows how long they will live. Even if we may anticipate a long life into the golden years, there are no guarantees.
Elsewhere “Fly Across The Sea” stalled at #22 on the CHUM record chart in Toronto.
Between 1970 and 1973 the group had three hits in the Top Five of the Canadian RPM Singles Chart. The band released a third single from their Edward Bear album titled “Last Song”. At the time of the recording Edward Bear consisted of Larry Evoy, Paul Weldon and Roger Ellis. The tune became a #1 hit in Canada, #2 in Vancouver and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1973 the band won a Juno Award for Outstanding Group Performance. A fourth album, Close Your Eyes, had a title track that made the Top Ten in Canada and the Top 40 in the USA. But that was it. The bandmates had differences of opinion regarding their direction and they split up in 1974. Although there have been hopes they would reunite, Edward Bear has never had a reunion since their break-up in 1974.
After Edward Bear’s demise, Larry Evoy ran a music publishing business and a recording studio. He also operated a horse farm with his spouse in King City, Ontario, north of Toronto. Danny Marks has played as a blues guitarist and hosted local radio shows, while Bill Loop has been a guitar teacher and continues to play with local session musicians. Paul Weldon has been an instructor at Seneca College and a member of a jazz combo. Since 1997, Roger Ellis has had a TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) license to perform in the Toronto subway system. Ellis is found in locales like the York Mills subway entertaining commuters.
April 27, 2020
“Roger Ellis, former Edward Bear guitarist, plays at York-Mills,” Toronto Star, August 17, 2012.
Emily Jackson, “Underground Rock Star: Edward Bear Guitarist Roger Ellis Auditions for TTC License. The Onetime Rock Star Now Plays in Subway Stations, Happy to still Be Making Music after Years Out of the Business,” Toronto Star, August 17, 2012
Roberta Brokenshire, Danny Marks, and The Murf, Edward Bear – Bio, Canadian Bands.com.
The Story Behind ‘Last Song’: Q&A with Songwriter Larry Evoy: Edward Bear Frontman Shares His Inspiration for the Song, Talks About its Success and Fills us in on What He’s Up to Now, Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.ca, June 30, 2015.
“West Coast Music Survey,” CKVN 1410 AM, Vancouver, BC, January 21, 1972.
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I’m curious, but what part of the lyrics implies that the woman’s brother “doesn’t treat her so well”? The only mention of the woman’s brother in the song is in the first verse, “I always felt she was a queen on her own / and her brother was a king”. I’m not sure if the writer of this article misheard that or drew the wrong conclusion from it but I found that an interesting interpretation regardless.