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THE DARK HILL
by John Close 1947 - 2003


This tune was written by this web site owner's friend, local musician and song writer John Close, when he lived at Caldecotte and looked up every day to the hill at Bow Brickhill.

John wrote some wonderful songs and melodies. More than two years after he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, John visited Dignitas in Switzerland where, surrounded by those he loved, he took his own life on Monday 26th May 2003 at the age of 55. 

The week before his trip I asked him about The Dark Hill and how he came to compose it and with fingers which struggled to operate the keyboard he wrote:

"I will never forget writing The Dark Hill, standing in my bedroom gazing up to the woods, with one foot on the bed playing it on my new mandolin.

I see them nowadays from my wheelchair and recall the times I ran every yard of them, twice."

In another part of the country that sad bank holiday weekend in May as I faced the fact that John had left us these three lines which so aptly summed up my feelings flowed from the pen of a new poet, Betty West.

Loss

Empty spaces, the loss is mine,
Bleak, black broken,
Blossom frosted before its time.
                                

John is greatly missed by all of us who knew him and his untimely death brought an end to a prolific output of words and music of which this waltz is one very small part.  The Dark Hill, now played by many folk musicians, has already crept into the folk tradition and will no doubt live forever - like so much of his music - as it is handed down from generation to generation.  On the flight to Zurich John wrote:

"I am thinking of my belief, which is quite simple.  When you are alive you can run, dance and write novels.  When you are dead you can't, and that's it.  All this talk of heaven and hell and reincarnation is so much crossing fingers and plain guff.  Beethhoven is now part of the soil in Germany.  Before that he wrote the 5th symphony and that's what counts."

As John's family and friends met on Midsummer's Day 2003 for a final goodbye to him, in a park in Milton Keynes, we played the Dark Hill in accordance with his wishes.

You can read more about John at www.onefivenine.info/johnclose.htm.


 

Sue Malleson

  

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