James Hillis

Archive for July, 2014|Monthly archive page

Black Day in July:The Banning of Gordon Lightfoot

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2014 at 7:18 am

Since the dawn of the 20th Century music has become a symbol of protest and has in some cases gotten an artist or two a banishment from the airwaves due to the sensitive nature of a song or their political views.  Garth brooks was once banned from Country Music TV because of his song “The Thunder Rolls”,Back in 1967, the Beatles were banned from British radio not once, but twice! Both “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “A Day in the Life” from their  ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ album were forbidden airplay, as they were thought to encourage drug use. Both Billie Holiday and Cole Porter were banned by ABC Radio Stations during the early 50’s, Tom Petty, the Sex Pistols and Frankie goes to Hollywood are just some artists that have had some form of Censorship against them.

But Gordon Lightfoot? What could he have possible done to have been banned from radio?. On April 4th 1968 his song”Black Day in July” was banned from airplay by most major radio stations in the United States. The song itself is about the race riots in Detroit in 1967 and was deemed as too controversial for public consumption.


At the above link you can find out what Gordon thought about it, but as for the song itself it portrayed the riots in a way that allowed the regular listener to understand. The result was 43 dead, 467 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed and Lightfoot made sure that the record made those facts clear,                                                                                                                    “Inthe office of the President
The deed is done the troops are sent
There’s really not much choice you see
It looks to us like anarchy
And then the tanks go rolling in
To patch things up as best they can
There is no time to hesitate
The speech is made the dues can wait

Black day in July
Black day in July
The streets of Motor City now are quiet and serene
But the shapes of gutted buildings
Strike terror to the heart
And you say how did it happen
And you say how did it start
Why can’t we all be brothers
Why can’t we live in peace
But the hands of the have-nots
Keep falling out of reach”

Tough lyrics and but realistic and as such was the reason for his banning from the airwaves, in 1973 David Bowie would release a song called “Panic in Detroit” but by then the aftermath of the riots had been studied and talked about by scholars everywhere and Bowie’s song did not touch a nerve like Canada’s own Gordon Lightfoot.


The Last Free Summer(Part 5)

In Uncategorized on July 20, 2014 at 12:23 am

As we grow older we tend to be reminded of things in the past by the simplest things, it can be a movie, book and in my case by music.  And there are 3 songs that when I hear them I am sent back to that summer of 72, and while they are not Rock and Roll classics they are what memory’s are made of.  So you can imagine a warm summers night, a Dr.Pepper on Ice and CFTR on the Radio, and these three songs were staples that summer.

Saturday In The Park..Chicago: This is the song from the ChicagoV album that I first heard when my Brother-In-Law Norm gave me a homemade 8 track player and that 8 Track along with it, and play it I did. Right from the opening notes it grabbed me and remained with me all that summer.

Dancing In The Moonlight..King Harvest: In July of’ ’72 this song was released and became the perfect summer night, campfire song. It had a wicked Wurlitzer Organ sound and a message that appealed to me and when I hear it today while at a cottage my feet start tapping and It takes me back.

Nice To be With You…Jim Gold Gallery: That’s right, this piece of fluff is still in my playlist and a song constantly reminds me of the last carefree summer that I had. It’s simple and short and  honest and the 45 was always on the record player.

There are a few other songs that take me back as well,Go All The Way by the Raspberries, Brandy by Looking Glass and Frankenstein by The Edgar Winter Group,to name a few, but those first three always bring me back.

It’s The Time Of Colin Blunstone

In Uncategorized on July 19, 2014 at 12:13 am

I have a real affinity for the music I grew up with and while I listen to many of the new artists that come along, I tend to drift back to the music that affected me the most, and I am sure that is obvious to those that are regular readers of my site.  And when it comes to my musical tastes it is not always mainstream music that I listened to, there are many artists that perhaps are not as well-known to the general public and that is what my latest adventure in writing is going to be about, introducing many to the unique and the perhaps not ready for radio artists. Some are long gone, some have passed away recently( R.I.P. Johnny Winter) while some continue to perform and entertain their fans. And so let’s get on with the show.

Colin Blunstone is an Interesting name in the music business, more than likely if you grew up listening to music in the late 60’s and into the 70’s you would know him, well not him personally, but his voice would be instantly recognizable to almost everyone.  He was the voice of the great British Band The Zombies and was the lead singer on Tell Her No, She’s Not There, and Time Of The Season, all recorded between 1964 and 1969.  His voice has been described as “Wistful and Plaintive”, and along with his friend Rod Argent the Zombies were a very successful act in the 60’s, but like many bands they split up and while Rod Argent had commercial success with his new band Argent ( Hold your Head Up and God gave Rock and Roll to You) Colin was successful in his own right releasing over 10 solo albums and working with other bands like The Alan Parson’s Project and Steve Hackett. While he may not have had the success in North America that many crave, he has managed to carve out a solid career in Europe where he still performs today,as a solo act and sometimes with a reunited Manfred Mann and with his old friend Rod Argent where they use the Zombies name once again, his last album was released in 2012 called On The Air Tonight.  Some of his songs to look up include Caroline Goodbye, She Loves the way they Love her,Say You don’t Mind, How could We Dare To be Wrong and Miles Away, all unique and ultimately satisfying.

While his solo material may not classify him as a “Rock and Roller” his style and his voice still is well worth a listen, because with all the clatter that is out there, at the end of the day he is a tranquil moment of peace, musically speaking.

I Was Once An Angel( Hard as it is to Fathom)

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2014 at 9:31 pm

It’s Throwback Thursday,so here goes. And yes, that is me in the picture


With Open Arms

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2014 at 7:56 pm

The wind blows softly through the trees
No sound is heard in this place
The names are forever etched in stone
Here it doesn’t matter what your age sex or race

The benches sit waiting for family and friends
For a moment or two they reminisce
The residents here are not worried about recent trends
They rest peacefully knowing they are missed

Row after Row of History lays
In the ground that has been blessed
No more pain or suffering infiltrate their days
As Mother Earth is the one they caress

You can almost hear them talking
Just be quiet and open your mind
Sit and listen and you will soon find
That someone will always be with you walking
As you go silently through the grave Yard
You just have to look for the signs
For someday they will welcome us all
With Open Arms

The Last Free Summer(Play it Again Sam Edition)

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2014 at 12:15 am

In 1972 a I saw a movie that led me to discover an Actor that had died many years before and to this day I am still a fan of his work. That movie was by Woody Allen and was called Play It Again Sam, it was about A neurotic film critic trying  to get over his wife leaving him by dating again, with the help of a married couple and his alter ego, Humphrey Bogart. It starred Woody Allen,Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts with Jerry Lacy playing Bogie and as was the case with most of Woody’s early films a laugh out riot. But after watching the film I wound up going to the Library and taking out a book written by his ex-wife Lauren Bacall and became fascinated by his story, unfortunately at the time there was no VHS or DVD’s so I had to stay up late some nights to catch the few flicks that were on TV then. But as technology developed so did the back catalog of his films and I have seen almost all of them now, but in the summer of ’72 even I could imagine what I wanted to and Bogie was my sidekick, even if no one else could see him.  

Humphrey DeForest Bogart (December 25, 1899 – January 14, 1957)

The Last Free Summer(Part 3)..The Movies

In Uncategorized on July 12, 2014 at 1:04 am

And boy was 1972 a good summer for the Cinema. A lot of my paper route money and the money I got from my parents went into music and the movies that summer, after all if I was going to grow up well-educated and wanted to hit up the lady’s I had to know what was current didn’t I?

The Godfather had been released in March of the year, but I did not get a chance to see it until early June and I came out of it just stunned by everything about it, the music, acting and even though I did not really know who Al Pacino was I wound up imitating him all summer. In July Deliverance hit the big screen and needless to say left everyone squealing.  August brought Woody Allen’s Everything you always wanted to know about sex, a book that I had read the previous winter and managed to sneak into to see it, and it was well worth it. But the biggest movie was one that was released earlier in the year but had never played in the area, and somehow a Friends older brother had managed to get a copy on reel to reel and that movie was the underground classic FRITZ THE CAT,  an animated story about a cat in New York City that had all of us young teens laughing so hard we almost passed out(well that and a few other things). he film is a satire focusing on American college life of the era, race relations, the free love movement, and left and right-wing politics. Fritz the Cat is the most successful independent animated feature of all time, grossing over $100 million worldwide.  

While there were other movies from that Last free Summer, those above are the ones that when they appear on TV or on Video I recall the youth and the fun of that summer.

The Last Free Summer(Part 1)

In Uncategorized on July 7, 2014 at 12:52 am

What is the last free Summer? It was 1972 and I was 14 going on 15 and whether I knew it or not it would become the last Summer Holiday where I could do what i want without any worry’s, because starting in the Fall of ’72 I would wind up working for my old man down at Artex Woollens and would never see another free summer again.  But what made the summer of 1972 so great? Well there was a lot of music released that summer, Albums like Ziggy Stardust by Bowie, Living in the Past By Jethro Tull, Alice Cooper’s Schools Out and Leon Russell’s Carney kept me close to the record player. But there a few good books as well that summer to read such as ,  Watership Down, The Odessa File, The Stepford Wifes and Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas among others. There were Movies to see like The Godfather, Deliverance, and fritz the cat just to name a few.  And the summer of 72 had other events to keep track of, like,In June The Watergate scandal broke wide open, In July Jane Fonda toured North Vietnam causing all types of havoc in the states and In August The Summer Olympics were held in West Berlin which led to the Munich Massacre. And In Canada we were all gearing up for the great hockey Showdown between Canada and the Soviet Union, which made for a very interesting summer.

This series of Story’s will be about 1972 and in particular the Summer, the music,movies,books and events that shaped that time that I call THE LAST FREE SUMMER

The Eagle and the Beaver

In Uncategorized on July 4, 2014 at 1:32 am

Ahh, Canada and the United States, the longest unprotected border in the world, we share a common ancestry, but we have a few differences that makes both of us unique in our own ways.

I was out last night and while having a couple of wobbly pops I ran into an American Couple who were in Canada for the very first time and were, to say the least, a little uninformed about the Country, and that led to some humourous takes on what is Canada, and of course we had to clarify a few things that they were not aware of.

Mounties are not our only police force, in Ontario they are not even present, which disappointed them as they were looking to see some.

Yes Hockey is our national winter sport, but lacrosse is our national Summer Sport. And none of us at the bar were coming from a Hockey game, in fact there was a Baseball game on the Tv’s, that confused them for a minute or two.

Canucks do own guns, in fact,per capita we own more guns than Americans do, we just don’t use them as much.

No, I don’t speak French and no one in the bar did either, which disappointed them as they spent three weeks learning french before coming up here, and had not found one person who did speak French.

They were also upset to find out that Polar Bears are not native to this part of the Country and that in fact where they were going they would not see any Polar Bears at all. And no, I don’t have an Igloo in my back yard either.

They also found out that our political system is a lot like the one in the States, Canuck Politicians are just as corrupt and worthless as in their own country.

They found out that Canada has the longest Street in the world, Yonge street, which starts at Lake Ontario in Toronto and at one time ran all the way to the Ontario Minnesota border, a total of 1178 miles. And we also have the shortest Railway in the world at 3.32 miles.

We discussed Wars and they were shocked to find out that the United States Invaded Canada twice and both times were forced to retreat.

They did discover that Canada has more electric blankets than the Americans,and that we both have problems with addictions. Americans with a Crack problem and Canuck with a Poutine problem, both addictive and both bad for your health.

But for the most part, it was found that we have a lot in common and are as close as two country’s can be and as we parted way’s I made sure to tell the couple that when they get to Winnipeg, make sure you look up Gordon..he owes me $20( Sorry, but that is an Inside Canada joke).

How to beat the Heat(Hespeler style)

In Uncategorized on July 2, 2014 at 12:31 am

This past Winter i wrote a little story on how to shovel your driveway(Hespeler Style), now I will tell you how to beat the heat(Hespeler style).
Here it is Early July and already  the weather has just gotten good and stuffy, so how do you beat the heat when you have to go to work everyday, well there are many ways to do it. You could forsake all clothing, but I am not sure if everyone around you would be comfortable with that. You could try to move the family into your office at work, after all the boss is paying the air conditioning. Along the same lines you could try to sneak into the frozen food coolers at Zehr’s, but somehow I think that could be a problem( I wouldn’t buy the ice cream from my section I can tell you that). You could try to talk to Mayor Craig, the cold shoulder you get from him would cool you for a few hours. You could flood your basement and then go skinny dipping in it. You could wait for hell to freeze over, but then that would mean the Leafs have won the Stanley cup, so we know that is not going to happen. You could fill the kiddie pool with ice cubes and lay in it or you could put a sprinkler in your bedroom and leave it on all night. Now you could do those things, but I don’t think any of those things will work..well, maybe the cold shoulder from the Mayor might, but let me tell you how my Dad figured out how to beat the Summer heat.
As a man with a Scottish heritage he wouldn’t spend money needlessly, so air conditioning was not really an option, but what he came up with was quite ingenious.
On a Hot Summer night(sounds like a Meat Loaf song don’t it) around 1977 I pulled into the family driveway and sitting at the top of the drive was an old Tent trailer, great I thought, Mom and Dad are going to go away again and leave the house alone for myself to party in. I was Wrong(again). My father had picked up this tent trailer for next to nothing and had equipped it to be his bedroom for the duration of the summer. It had a fridge for his beer, a television with the cable line running from the house, a lamp beside his bed, a spare telephone running out the window of the house and into the trailer. He had his alarm clock ready to go and a coffee maker set up for the morning. Hell he had everything he wanted and eventually even my mother wound up sleeping out there with him. I had to give him credit, he never complained about the heat at night, and now as we struggled through this little heat wave that we had I am trying to convince my wife that we too need a tent trailer in our back yard, BECAUSE that is the Hespeler Way to beat the heat. Your Welcome

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