Streets Of London

Streets of London

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10 peculiar folk themes from the 60s

When he delivers a song that later becomes popular, the singer-songwriter is just its creator and first performer. He has no control over how others will fix it and the song's later life is quite another story. The secondary fate experienced by each of the ten folk themes below is instructive in this regard:


A sour glimpse on street life

Ralph McTell 1969

The song 'Streets Of London' is composed and released in 1969 by the British songwriter-singer Ralf McTell (born 1944).  It is re-recorded several times and reaches the Charts in 1972 in the Netherlands and in 1974 in  the United Kingdom. It later becomes a classic folk-theme and is recorded by more than 200 known artists, both in English and in other languages. Such covers include:

∙  1969  ∙  Ralf McTell  ∙  1971  ∙  Mary Hopkin  ∙  1975  ∙  Jasmine Bonnin  (German, 'Strassen unserer Stadt')  ∙  1977  ∙  Glen Campbell  ∙  1981  ∙  Harry Belafonte  ∙  1982  ∙  Anti-Nowhere League  ∙  1994  ∙  Sinéad O’Connor  ∙  2001  ∙  Guus Meeuwis & Vagant (Dutch, 'Op Straat')  ∙  2006  ∙  Blackmore’s night  ∙

1969 & 1974



Have you seen the old man in the closed down market
Kicking up the papers with his worn out shoes?
In his eyes you see no pride, hand held loosely by his side
Yesterday's paper telling yesterday's news

(Chorus) So how can you tell me you're lonely
And say for you that the sun doesn't shine?
Oh, 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 girl who walks the streets of London?
Dirt in her hair and her clothes in rags?
She's no time for talkin', she keeps right on walkin'
Carrying her home in two carrier bags


In the all night café at a quarter past eleven
Same old man sitting there on his own
Looking at the world over the rim of his teacup
Each tea lasts an hour then he wanders home alone


Have you seen the old man outside the seaman's mission?
Memory fading with the medal ribbons that he wears?
In our winter city the rain cries a little pity
For one more forgotten hero and a world that doesn't care