Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake: The Priest


Elliot Leavy

Earlier this week, Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake released the barefaced brainchild of their recent collaboration: The Priest.

The song is based on the stark writings of former Big Issue seller Joe Gallagher. Gallagher recorded parts of his time on the streets of Edinburgh and later had them published in the Big Issue. How did this come about? Too easily. The result of several job interviews falling through, the situation hammers home how thin the line can be from getting by to being homeless.

Johnny Marr conveys the sinister and numb headspace of being without a home. His subtle plucking of guitar strings creating a creeping sense of unease that is characteristic of the mind during times of struggle. This, alongside the ongoing, borderline monotonous, build up of the sound gives the sense of a never-ending and unfocused march to nowhere, resulting in an eerie catharsis by the song's end.

It's the lyrics of the song though, read by Maxine Peake in a sombre but sharp tone, which makes this such a powerful tune. I won't go into the details, just go listen to it. But it sheds light on a cynical reality that is increasingly on the receiving end of blasé belligerence on this tattered isle.