The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - The Album Club -

James Harte is a long­time fan of bands such as Pink Floyd, Led Zep­pelin and Deep Pur­ple, but it’s the hu­man and hu­mane sim­plic­ity of Cat Stevens’s 1970 al­bum Tea

for the Tiller­man that gets his top vote. “I was only about 13 or 14 years old when I started to lis­ten to Cat Stevens’ mu­sic. He al­ways came across to me as be­ing both peace­ful and spir­i­tual. Be­cause some of the words of these songs, he ac­tu­ally shows he cares.”

To care: it’s a verb that Harte uses a lot. His favourite track on the al­bum is Wild

World. “She’s go­ing out there into the world for the first time and he’s telling her to be care­ful be­cause you can’t ‘get by just upon a smile’. It’s a mov­ing lyric, be­cause in the song he ac­tu­ally shows he cares very much not just for her, but ac­tu­ally for her safety. That comes across crys­tal clear in the song.”

Harte cur­rently lives in a flat in Dublin. There are no cook­ing fa­cil­i­ties so he con­tin­ues to avail of the ser­vices at Mer­chants’ Quay.

Mer­ci­fully, he hasn’t had to sleep rough in

“When they sat around and cooked, if one fam­ily hadn’t got enough, they shared with an­other fam­ily. That’s the way they were, you know?”

more than a decade. But he still finds him­self haunted by the spec­tre of home­less­ness – “It was the first time I could un­der­stand that word stigma” – and will be think­ing this Christ­mas of those cur­rently with­out a place to call their own. He wishes Christ­mas was less about money and more about the birth of Je­sus in a sta­ble. “I do be­lieve in God. Some­times I’d even get an­gry with God as well be­cause of the sit­u­a­tion I’d find my­self in. And not just for me. I’d see cer­tain things out there, you know, like peo­ple on the streets and other things, and the way cer­tain peo­ple are treated as well.”

He feels there is some­thing scan­dalously unchris­tian in the fact that “to have a good Christ­mas now, you have to have money in your pocket”.

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