“The laughter, the talk, as we walk through the night air
that’s scented with wood smoke and pine.
The infinite distance of stars that remind us
that all our mistakes are now past”.
New Year’s Eve is often the most disappointing party night of the year. On the eve of the millennium, fed up with over-priced alcohol, drunken brawls and hanging about in the rain for a taxi home, the friends and family of singer-songwriter Juliet Turner decided to abandon style and party in comfort in an old cottage on the family farmland. Built in the early eighteen hundreds, the thatched roof was repaired, plumbing was installed, the diaspora were invited and accepted with alacrity. The alcohol was free, as long as people brought their own, and a gargantuan feast was provided in the farmhouse. Then folks climbed the hill to the old thatched cottage where the party pieces were dusted down, poetry and prose gushed forth, violins were scraped, trumpets blown and voices raised in wild and dissonant harmonies. A toast at midnight, hand shaking for the single people, kissing for the couples, and by twenty minutes past the hour, everyone had gone home to bed. It was such a success that the gathering has been repeated in the house at the top of the hill every new year’s eve since. “The House at the Top of the Hill” is the song behind the story.
The song was recorded in Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in Belfast city centre, in the slow peace that dropped after the primary school children left off kicking their football against the church windows and went home for their tea. Stephen Macartney from folk band “Farriers” provided backing vocals, piano and guitar, and Gareth Hughes played double bass. The recording is as live and real and acoustic as they come, just the way the fans requested.
“The House at the Top of the Hill” is the first release from Turner’s new album, due out in 2013.