Streets of London (song)
|"Streets of London"|
|Song by Ralph McTell from the album Spiral Staircase|
|Released||1969 Spiral Staircase
1971 You Well-Meaning Brought Me Here (US release)
1974 UK single
|Recorded||1968, 1970, 1971, 1974|
The song was inspired by McTell's experiences busking and hitchhiking throughout Europe, especially in Paris and the individual stories are taken from Parisians – McTell was originally going to call the song Streets of Paris; eventually London was chosen because he realised he was singing about London. The song contrasts the common problems of everyday people with those of the homeless, lonely, elderly, ignored and forgotten members of society. In an interview on Radio 5 with Danny Baker on 16 July 2016 Ralph McTell explained that the market he referred to in the song was Surrey Street Market in Croydon. McTell had often observed an old man there picking through the papers looking for a grapefruit or a carrot.
McTell left the song off his debut album, Eight Frames a Second, since he regarded it as too depressing, and did not record it until persuaded by his producer, Gus Dudgeon, for his second album in 1969. A re-recorded version charted in the Netherlands in April 1972, notching up to #9 the next month. McTell re-recorded it for the UK single release in 1974. McTell played the song in a fingerpicking style with an AABA chord progression.
It was his greatest commercial success, reaching number two in the UK singles chart, at one point selling 90,000 copies a day and winning him the 1974 Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically and a Silver disc for record sales.
Streets of London has been covered by over 200 artists, none of whose versions has achieved the same level of success as the original.
- on YouTube
- Quote from talk with Prime Minister Gordon Brown accessed 11 October 2012
- Streets of London holding on to the #9 slot for the 2nd and last week on Veronica Top 40, May 20th, 1972
- Michael Raven (2006-04-01). English Folk Guitar. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-906114-74-2
- BBC, "Sold on Song: Streets of London". Accessed 16 February 2009.
- BPI. “Certified Awards Search: Ralph McTell”. Accessed 22 September 2009.
- Ralph McTell official website. “Spiral Staircase”. Retrieved 22 August 2016.