Great London Songs

7 Streets of London – Ralph McTell

Originally released in 1969 as a track on his second album – Spiral Staircase – Ralph McTell says that the market he refers to in the song is Surrey Street Market in Croydon. As an album track it was covered by many artists, Roger Whittaker and Val Doonican among them, in the early 1970s before his record company released the song as a single in 1974, when it reached No.2 in the British chart. It was kept from being the Christmas No.1 by Lonely this Christmas by Mud. It was No.1 in Ireland and other countries.

Ralph McTell is a well-respected song writer, Streets of London is his most famous song by some margin, although “Clare to Here” which he wrote in 1963, is well known in Ireland. Streets of London is a good example of the 60/70s folk revival, and I am led to believe that it is taught as poetry in some German schools, it is also one of the most covered songs in the world. One of my favorite versions is by Sinead O’Connor, the sweetness of her voice highlights the sadness of the lyrics.

In 2017, it was released as a charity single as a duet with Ralph McTell and Annie Lennox with the proceeds going to Crisis, the homeless charity. The Anti-Nowhere League did a punk version in 1982, it sounds like it should be terrible, but it actually works surprisingly well as an angry punk song, with a “London Bridge is Falling Down” intro.


7 thoughts on “Great London Songs

  1. I’m a bit like June, above. As a 15 year old, I was fearful of this reaching one chart place higher before the School Christmas Disco. Mud’s ‘Lonely This Christmas’ was a WAY better ‘smoochie’ song! I know I was being shallow and selfish, but ‘Streets of london’ would just have killed off the mood. 😉

    I do like the song, though, and it conjures up such powerful imagery.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, Spiral Staircase was one of the early albums I bought. The first were Sergeant Pepper’s and the Cream , “Fresh Cream” I used to play a version on the guitar a long time ago, so the fragments of lyrics linger in my mind, “Looking at thr world, over the rim of his teacup, each tea lasts alone, and he wanders home alone”.

    Liked by 1 person

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