A former vendor who shed new light on life on the streets with a diary published exclusively in The Big Issue has penned a song with Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake.
Joe Gallagher brought new ways of seeing with his raw, emotional chronicles of sleeping rough in Edinburgh from May 2015 until he found a home and employment in March last year.
His hard-hitting, honest series of features, written under the pseudonym of James Campbell, was spotted by Marr and Peake in the pages of The Big Issue and has been turned into a song and short film as part of a collaboration between the pair.
The Priest, which is about the characters that Gallagher met on his first days sleeping rough in the Scottish capital, features Peake performing the spoken piece word-for-word with former Smiths guitarist Marr providing the instrumental backdrop.
Big Issue editor Paul McNamee said: “Joe approached us a few years ago. He’d been a Big Issue vendor to start with. He said he had something and asked if I would take a look at it. He was sleeping rough in Edinburgh at the time.
“I said yes, though frequently people don’t follow through. When Joe sent his copy, you could tell it was different. It was rough, but there was something to it. It was funny, it was raw, there were echoes of Irvine Welsh. But here was a new voice telling of the reality of street living in ways that hadn’t been properly told in some time. Joe’s circumstances – he wrote longhand at night, then found a library during a day to type up and send it through – added something too. It also showed just how important libraries are.