Video of the week: Ralph McTell – Streets Of London

A great song … 

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”— but eventually London was chosen, because he realised he was singing about London.

McTell’s 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, McTell said that the market he referred to in the song was Surrey Street Market in Croydon. (wikipedia)


Have you seen the old man in the closed down market

Picking up the papers with his worn out shoes
In his eyes you see no pride and hanging loosely at his side
Yesterdays paper, telling yesterdays news
So how can you tell me you’re lonely
And say for you that the sun don’t shine

Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I’ll show you something to make you change your mind

Have you seen the old dear who walks the streets of London
Dirt in her hair and her clothes in rags
She’s no time for talking, she just keeps right on walking
Carrying her home, in two carrier bags
So how can you tell me you’re lonely
And say for you that the sun don’t shine

Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I’ll show you something to make you change your mind

And in the all night cafe at a quarter past eleven
Same old man sitting there on his own
Looking at the world over the rim of his teacup
And each tea lasts an hour and he wanders home alone
So how can you tell me that you’re lonely
And say for you that the sun don’t shine

Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I’ll show you something to make you change your mind

Have you seen the old man outside the seaman’s mission
Memory fading with the medal ribbons that he wears
And in the winter city, the rain cries a little pity
For one more forgotten hero, and a World that doesn’t care
So how can you tell me that you’re lonely
And say for you that the sun don’t shine

Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I’ll show you something to make you change your mind

2 thoughts on “Video of the week: Ralph McTell – Streets Of London

  1. I remember attending a Ralph McTell concert in The Royal Festival Hall c.1972, during which he brought his very young son on to the stage for one number. I remember clearly his performance of Streets Of London. So here we are 50 years later and nothing has changed – in fact the situation is probably more acute today, with millions homeless and people who, not only don’t care, but are totally without compassion. It’s enough to destroy your faith in mankind.

    Liked by 1 person

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