CD Album 10
24 of Our Best Original Songs

Notes ~ Lyrics ~ Song Links ~ Photos
PART II: Tracks 13-24
Continued from Part I: Tracks 1-12

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My great grandfather came west in 1878 with his family and possessions to homestead a tract of land south of the Little Saskatchewan River Bend settlement -- near the present location of Strathclair. I was raised on this farm and we still maintain a home on this homestead site. This song was written as a tribute to those early pioneers. Besides trying to express our love for this area where my ancestors sank roots so long ago, I was also trying to show how much I feel we owe to our heritage.

The family and local history research that inspired this song served me well a few years later. I've had a long association with Brandon University -- going back to 1961 and in more recent times to work on staff as a Professor. I was commissioned by the Geography Department to contribute a chapter to a university textbook. I expanded many of the themes in "John Campbell - Pioneer" and "Memory Take Me Back" in the writing of my chapter. The result was:

Strathclair: A Prairie Town with a Past, Present & Future
William G. Hillman, B.Sc.(Hons), B.Ed., M.Ed.
Assistant Professor ~ Brandon University, Brandon, MB  Canada

Mother's mother on the porch where she's makin butter
Grandfather's out in the yard where he loves to putter
Screen door slams -- sister runs in crying
Skinned a knee out where the collie dog's lying
Memory take me back just one more time

Daddy's in the field where he keeps the prairie dust flying
Rain don't come but the clouds keep on trying
Though drought and hail made times a lot tougher
A mother's love saw that we didn't suffer
Memory take me back just one more time

Saturday night Daddy takes us into town for a movie
Late night shopping and farm talk swapping on Main Street
Old men standing by the pool hall talking
Young folks out on the sidewalk walking
Memory take me back just one more time

Westward bound the year was '78
John Campbell - Pioneer
Steamin' by train and rolling by wagon
To Manitoba's wild frontier
His daddy built a house of sod just for the winter
Come summer built a house of stone
Cleared the virgin land and they did it by hand
Workin' aching fingers to the bone

He met my Nanny in a country school house
Where they danced the night away
Bought a gold band and asked for the hand
Of pretty little Katy McKay
Green Bluff girl then moved into Maple Grove
Just a little south of town
Helping in the fields and cooking all the meals
And watching little babies run around

Now I walk the same fields and the forests
But it's not as it once used to be
And I realize with tears in my eyes
Time fades their memory

'20s brought good times, '30s took them back
'40s called the second son away
Winter '55 took and old man's life
And a woman's will to live another day
But the house still stands to the memory of a man
Who settled on this prairie land
Trees a-blowing in the wind are still growing
Planted by a woman's loving hand

The lyrics pretty well tell the whole story of this song. We were trying to create, on record, a bitter-sweet feel akin to the moods of Autumn on the prairies -- and our country home: the cool fall breezes, birds migrating to the south, stubble fires, falling leaves, harvest moon, dew turning to frost, shortening days. All of this contrasting with the strangers, loneliness of crowds, and pollution associated with urban living. If we succeeded in this I believe we owe it to Sue-On's wistful interpretation.

Sun shinin' brightly
Cold wind blowin' free
Old mallard's winging
His way from the north
Smoky air sweeping
Through tired leaves weeping
Prairie life singing
A song to the north

When the brown city air and
Cold sidewalk stares get me down
I reach for the days and
Old time ways of the farm
Memories so warm,
Of the place I was born, I recall
Harvest time
And dandelion wine in the fall

Stubblefields burning
Old windmills turning
Silhouettes framed by
The sun's fall to earth
Dew crystallizing
Harvest moon rising
October night singing
A song to the north

Both Sue-On and I are educators. Two of our favourite subjects have been geography and English. One reason for the creation of Massacre was to show students how native Indian place names have enriched our North American landscape. In addition to serving as a tribute to those who came here generations before my ancestors, I felt that the writing and recording of a song using colourful Indian names was an excellent way to enhance my teaching. 

As you can hear in the lyrics, I tried to string together the fascinating names of Indian tribes in a lyrical and rhythmic way.

We enjoy doing this song on stage -- and I guess the performances which stand out most in our memory were the times we sang it in the back-to-nature setting of the Boggy Creek Call of the Wild Country and Bluegrass Festival. We were quite involved in the event for many years, both as performers and organizers.

Our appreciation of Canadian aboriginal heritage was further enhanced during my four-month teaching assignment in Northern Manitoba on the Pukatawagan First Nations Reserve. I was teaching university courses on a Brandon University satellite campus. The University regularly flew me to Puk and back. Following this I was assigned an permanent office on the BU campus, but my northern adventure was an unforgettable experience.

Granddaddy told of times
He saw men dying
Old women weeping,
Naked children crying
Blankets, trinkets
For land and gold
Ain't nothing left
But memories to hold...
For the...

Chickasaw Waccamaw Iroquois Sioux
Susquehanna Missisauga and the Kickapoo
Choctaw Chippewa Yakima Cree
Sissipahaw Wichita and brave Pawnee

Then we chopped down the trees
And poisoned the breeze
Killed all the beasts and
Brought nature to her knees
Now rivers are dying
Too heavy to flow
Proud people crying,
Nowhere to go...
For the...

Cherokee Apache Mohave Mandan
Shawnee Comanche Miami Cheyenne
Apalache Muskogee Tutchone Navajo
Missouri Shoshone and proud Arapaho

The songs on the first two of our 12 albums were covers of other popular songs so for our third album we thought it was time to write some of our own material.

Our first two originals were basically duets, so next I tried my hand at some ballads for Sue-On: Two Loving Arms and the oriental flavoured In Sadness.

We released these four originals on a jacketed EP that we sent around for airplay. We got really encouraging radio exposure and media feedback from RPM Magazine and BMI (PRO) Music, who wrote a very complimentary letter and placed a cool review in their trade magazine. Once Sue-On and I had our first four originals sort of polished and worked out there was nothing that could hold us back from booking studio time record enough songs for our Album No. 3

Trade winds blow across the sea of my memory
To a time when cares were few and life had meaning
Visions of a smiling face framed by willows
Reflections that played on waters gleaming

This heart of mine
It cries while I am waiting here
In sadness

This heart of mine
It longs and yearns each night
For his caress

Hand in hand we'd walk alone under starlight
Gentle breezes kissed a love that seemed for ever
Now I sit alone and dream of a lost love
This pain in my heart a burning ember

This is a novelty song about our stage exploits and the experience of performing many decades worth of one-nighters.

It was recorded during our Newcastle sessions in England. This studio, like so many of the places we played in England, was inaccessible in the extreme. We had to pull our gear up many flights of stairs and through a seemingly endless number of doors because the facility was situated on the upper level of a large bingo hall complex.

After surviving this ordeal which anyone in his right mind would have left to roadies, I returned to re-park our Ford Transit van only to find that the meter maid had decorated it with a parking ticket -- to add infuriation to fatigue.

Come on and give the band a hand on the ole bandstand
They're singing all night for you
Guitar's ringing and the drummer girl's singing the blues
We'll pick a little fiddle and diddle
with the ivories in harmony
We'll have a rompin' stompin' good-time jamboree

Forget your tax laws, in-laws, out-laws, too
Even Grandma's jumpin' like new
Dancing and prancing -- any ole dude'll do
Dancing outside, inside, upside-down
Look -- her feet don't touch the ground
Struttin', double clutchin', and
hitching up her gingham gown

The amp'll stapple crackle pop when we start to rock
You'll feel your toes tapping down in your socks
Skippin' and trippin' and rocking around the clock
We'll keep you creepin' and peepin'
-- anything but sleepin'
Till the moonshine meets the sun
Then you'll drag it to your wagon and
The band's on the run again.

There's really not much I remember about this one, other than we had just pushed and pulled - shoved and slid - huffed and puffed a Yamaha Grand down into the basement location of our Maple Grove Studio. My first exposure to music came from listening to my mom and dad having jam sessions around the Heinzman - the thrill of hearing, and later making this homemade live music has never left me. 

Not surprisingly then, I was glued to this new toy for days and Stranger Please is one of the songs that came out of my internment.

Because our recording career goes all the way back to 1970, I would like nothing better than to go into a '90s digital studio, complete with banks of synthesizers and improved production techniques to re-record songs such as this one.

Stranger please wander home to me
Your wandrin' shoes have brought blues and misery
I cry alone every night you're away
Come share this bed where we used to lay

Stranger won't you call one more time
Call 'cause I'll fall for any line
O what a fool I must be
I even talk to you in my sleep
(Please talk to me stranger please)

Stranger once we loved and laughed in fun
Once we played, sang and lay in the sun
Did you forget all the words to our song
Please won't you come take me along

Not long after the release of our second album, singer/rhythm guitarist Jake Kroeger left the group and we were again a trio. Over the next three decades a number of friends and family have filled the third man spot -- Barry Forman, Kevin Pahl, Kerry Morris and Robin Hillman -- but we have remained a trio to this day. In the fall of '71 we moved from Brandon and back to our Maple Grove home where I resumed my teaching job at Strathclair Collegiate. 

Despite our busy schedule of TV and dance work, preparing new curricula, remodelling our country home, and commuting (Sue-On was finishing her Bachelor of Education degree at Brandon University), I worked at writing original material for the next recording session -- a session for which we had already started setting money aside. The first song I wrote was for my beloved grandmother, Katie Campbell -- Nannie, who had always been so supportive of our music. She died on Christmas day, 1971. This song seemed far too personal to share with the world, so I moved on to more commercial themes. A metaphor used in a Nancy Wilson song had fired my imagination: the comparison of a flowing river to a woman... or a man... with wanderlust. It was a theme I developed for the song, Blue Shallow River.

Blue Shallow River
Why must you race
Blue Shallow River
Why not slow your pace
Take it slow in your wanderin'
Must you keep drifting free
Why be always searching
For a distant land or a never ending sea

Blue Shallow River
Stand your own ground
Blue Shallow River
Get yourself unwound
You know love's never going to find you
In your dance to a distant hill
You can let your dreams unravel
Only  if you take it in your mind to lie still

This is another of the early originals we recorded at the old original 8-track Century 21 studios on King Edward Street in Winnipeg. We were one of their first clients - in fact, I remember nailing up some last-minute acoustic wall material to get the place into operation. The studio was  conceived and operated by two sets of brothers: the Hildebrands, John and Harry - and the Paleys, Ron and Ted. These guys had recorded and toured in the '60s as Ronnie and the Eternals. We had first met them when we were both booked for the first year of the Morris Stampede.

I'll surround you with love so warm
That you've never find your way out to the cold
For as long as you want me, and these two loving arms
Then I'll promise, that our sweet love, will never grow old

The soft breeze caressing
The moments so rare
The chill of the night wind
Together we'll share

If you'll take my loving
All I have to give
Then there'll always be some reason for me to live
And I'll live just for you
With each breath I hold
And together, we'll find memories, much richer than gold

Reelin' in Soho is an account of our first recording session in London, England. As suggested in the first verse, this was the culmination of a tour in which we - The Hillmans From Canada - had played 30 one-nighters in night clubs and discos across Northern England. Many nights found us in the ubiquitous Workingman Clubs where a house band opened at 7:00 pm, followed by opening acts which usually offered variety entertainment. We would then come on for a show set, after which there would be a long break for housie (bingo) - a national addiction. After this exciting gambling break we would return for a dance set - but by 11:00 pm the dancers would call it a night since they had to work the next day. Being so used to the long drives, long gigs and late nights back in Canada, it was hard for us to wind down so suddenly and every night found us driving around looking for some place which might still be open - we met some very colourful characters on these midnight rambles.

The audiences attended these clubs every night of the week and had seen it all, so it was especially rewarding to 'go down a bomb' 'bomb' has a different connotation there than it does in North America. It was tremendously exciting to study the dressing room walls which were festooned with pictures, cards and stickers left by previous entertainers - even the Beatles, early in their careers, had toured this circuit. These backstage walls were seldom refurbished since it seemed that the more 'name' acts displayed, the more prestigious the club. Perhaps the most fascinating venues though, were the Country and Western Clubs where nearly everyone showed up in full Western regalia - including boots, hats, gunbelts...and western drawls - Geordie cowboys.

Our strangest and perhaps most memorable night occurred at Thirsk - a village in Yorkshire. Throughout the tour, we spent most mornings and afternoons being tourists - traipsing through castles, cathedrals, and pubs and across highlands and moors. Scarth, however, offered a special reward because it is home to Alf Wight, aka James Herriot of All Creatures Great and Small fame. We visited his veterinary office and toured his small museum just down the street. Fittingly, the club we were to play was on the outskirts of town surrounded by a meadow or cow pasture. It was a 1920s pavilion-style hall.

Our opening act for the night arrived late - surrounded by an entourage of people in formal wear. He was a singer who had been married just a few hours before in Newcastle. This set the mood for the whole evening - the place seemed to explode and although the club should have been emptied by 11:00, the management barred the doors to keep out the local constabulary and the party continued into the wee hours. When Sue-On wearied of the drums, a succession of people - our agent, the bartender and even the groom - took control of the sticks. Something right out of the fictional Darrowby.

Warm summer night in a green Bromley garden
Done thirty nights of singin' - runnin' 'round ole England
Picking out the songs to lay down tomorrow
Songs about lovin' - leavin' - and sorrow

Monday morning moving into Bromley station
Munchin' fish and chips wrapped in the news of the nation
A Charing Cross stop and then we're out to Trafalgar
Humpin' piano and draggin' a guitar

Rockin' and rolling and reeling to Soho
Boogie woogie woogie into London town
Rockin' and rolling and reeling in Soho
Boogie woogie woogie till we get back home

Huff and puff and shove to where the lions and pigeons stand
Wave and jump and whistle - callin' for a cabbie man
Cabbie man don't understand or talk Canadian
Drive around in circles takin' every street he can

Later in the morning we're reeling in Soho
Rocking a studio - ten feet down below
People on the street are dancing, pushing and shoving
Listening to the band just a reelin' and rocking

This song was Alan Jones' contribution to our London sessions - you can't help but notice his unique piano style behind Sue-On's equally unique vocals. Alan and I have known each other since the early sixties when he moved from England to Brandon, Manitoba to work as a physiotherapist. At the time, I was playing four hours of guitar solos every night with our group - The Blue Angels - so, when we heard that Alan played piano and sax, we pressed him into service to offer our fans a little musical variety and relief from Shadows and Ventures material. 

Following a return visit to England, he amused us with stories of an outrageous new band with a silly name and girlish haircuts that for some strange reason was stirring up quite a bit of excitement back home...the Beatles?...Nah, they could never make it here. 

After a year or so, we went off in different directions, but we got together some time later to record a Maple Grove album, comprised mostly of his songs, under the title FREE SPIRIT. He later contacted an Middlesborough agent for us back in England and helped us line up our first tour of England - he even went along and filled in on organ on many of the gigs.

Here's the sun - shining through
Making me happy - thinking of you
There's the moon - riding high
Leaving me lonely - making me cry
Summer breeze - drifting free
Bringing sweet memories - closer to me
Willow tree - whisprin' low
Sharing a secret - no one should know
I'll find a swallow to fly around you
And leave you love from me
Time rolls by - night and day
Only it's hurting - while you're away

*** From The Free Spirit Recording Project
Our music buddy Alan Jones and I played in a band in the mid-1960s but we lost touch for a while. Then about 10 years later Al contacted me. He played some of the songs he had written and asked if Sue-On and I would like to join him in a recording project. He also enlisted the aid of Ken Blair and two other fine musicians with whom he had played with back in England -- Terry Fleetwood and Ian Hunter. At the time, Sue-On and I were spending much of our free time, while off the road and away from our teaching duties, working at a multitude of recording sessions in Winnipeg's Century 21 Studios. This looked like another challenging venture so, within weeks we were again back in the studio. The two studio engineers were John Hildebrand, co-owner of the studio, and Colin Bennett, who had previously been musical arranger, etc. for the RCMP Musical Ride band. The songs were all originals by Alan, Ken, and myself. Sue-On and I sang three lead vocals - we chose our Listen to Me Cry to feature on this all-original CD.

One of the sessions turned out to be an almost all-night marathon. Sue-On was part of the reason for this long session. She had spent most of the day sick in bed with a bad cold, but gamely made it to the session to do back-up vocals. She held up fairly well, but as the session dragged on into the night, she started to experience sharp pains in her chest and had difficulty in breathing. The three physiotherapists in the group correctly diagnosed the problem as pleurisy -- and tightened a belt around her chest to ease the pain so she could finish the background vocals. She could only sing two sustained notes at a time, but thanks to overdubbing we strung it all together. When the pain became too severe I took her to the hospital for treatment. This was one of our few recording projects in which Sue-On didn't play drums.

The album cover was designed in keeping with the "Free Spirit" theme. The photo was taken at Brandon Airport with all of us gathered around Ken Gowler's famous bi-plane with plenty of open blue sky in the background. The bi-plane from the cover eventually went on permanent display, hanging from the terminal ceiling at Winnipeg International Airport. Kevin Pahl, our keyboard player in our other band, was one of the few pilots who flew it before it was "dry docked."  Fittingly, since Sue-On and I were in the middle of yet another project that day we made it to the photo shoot thanks to Kevin's father, Howard, who flew us into Brandon on that afternoon. The back cover on the vinyl album followed the theme created in our previous album: film strips, credits and liner notes.

If you think that you've seen the way
I'll go blindly on
And if you think I've outstayed my stay
I'll call my day done

You know that I can't give you more
You've all I've got to give
O suddenly it's not enough
For the life you want to live

Once there was love and there was sweetness never misery
We lived for today but tomorrow we couldn't see
Then suspicion weighed on love only drifting... out on shifting sands

And love never made for tomorrow came to end
If you think that you've seen the truth
I'll live my little lie
But if you think that my loves a laugh
Then listen to me cry

This song has a complicated genealogy. We recorded the bed tracks with Alan Clark and the writers, Desperado, during our third tour of England, but we did not have time to complete the vocals before we flew home. Due to luggage restrictions, we left the two-inch masters in England so they had to be brought over a year later when bassist Mick Sandbrook and his wife Margaret visited us in Canada. 

We added vocal tracks in Winnipeg's Century 21 A-Studio, mixed it at the B-Studio, and sent it to Edmonton for a Dolby fix. At this point we realized that the song was too long for single release, so we went into the editing studio with John Hildebrand to razor blade cut a verse and chorus out of the 1/4-inch master tape. John was a master at this, having done many similar edits on the K-Tel TV records. John and I had done the same type of edits a few years back on our early Canadian-recorded albums. 

The shortened version was mastered and pressed at Columbia Records in Toronto. The single received good airplay and the since the song has never appeared on our albums, we felt it would make a suitable finale for our first all-original CD and digital release.

You don't look at me like you used to do Babe
You don't say the things you used to say
We don't seem to talk like we used to do Babe
Does it really matter anyway?

Is this the end of the line
Is there nothing left to be said
Do we forget the past, what's gone between
Just look straight ahead...or should we...

Try... to bring back the good times
Try... to forget all the bad
I ...just wish we could start again
And bring back the good times And all the magic they had

Is there any point in this rescue operation
Is there any meaning to this song
Should we call it quits no obligations
Just turn our backs and say so-long

I just can't believe it's over
Won't you tell me you've changed your mind
O Baby, O Baby,
Don't leave this thing behind...why can't we... (Chorus)

You don't know how much that I'm gonna miss you
Miss the things you do and the things you say
It's gonna be so hard for me just to get through
Do we have to say goodbye this way

This is the end of the line
There is nothing left to say
You've forgot the past and what's gone between
You'll walk out just won't...


Back to Part I: Tracks 1-12

100 Songs
CD 10
CD 11
England Tours
CD 12
Early Years
Fiddle 1
Fiddle 2


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2. Album Notes | Galleries
3. Guitar Tales
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7. Media
8. 100 Songs

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