On a freezing December night in 2013, musician Joseph Baker had an unforgettable encounter with an elderly homeless man on the streets of Chiswick. Now he has turned the man's heartbreaking story into a song set to take the Christmas charts by storm, and Joseph is determined to find the man who inspired the track.
It was while walking home from a Christmas party that Joseph spotted the man sitting on the pavement in Chiswick. Moved by a sense of Christmas spirit, the 33 year-old writer and musician decided to stop and talk to the man who introduced himself as Harry. Amazingly, it turned out that the two men were both originally from Dudley in the West Midlands and the conversation that followed lasted over an hour as Joseph listened to Harry’s life story.
"It was incredible," recalls Joseph. "Within less than a minute, he was telling me about his life on the street; his battle with alcohol addiction; but most of all, he waxed lyrical about the love of his life who had stuck by him through everything. They’d been together since they were teenagers and he spent his whole life promising to marry her, until 2012 when she finally left him. He was a lovely guy, but he had a very deep sadness about him."
Joseph never saw Harry again after that night, but the encounter made a profound impact. His band The Sticks have recorded a song based on Harry’s story which they are planning to release in time for Christmas with a 20% of the proceeds going to Crisis. Joseph describes the song, ‘A Church On New Year’s Day’, as a folk ballad in the vein of ‘Fairytale Of New York’ and he is now trying to track down the man who inspired it.
"This song is Harry’s story," says Joseph. "It would not exist without him. My only wish is that I could find him again to say thank you. He was around 70 years old, with a grey beard and a small scar above his left eye. He also had the name Evie tattooed across his fingers. I’d love to play him the song. Fingers crossed, wherever he is this Christmas, he somehow gets to hear it."
‘A Church On New Year’s Day’ by The Sticks is released on Mon 1st December 2014.
If you have any information that might help in the search for Harry, please get in touch via https://www.facebook.com/TheSticksMusic or Twitter (@TheSticksMusic). Please the hashtag #FindHarry