Streets of London is a song written by Ralph Mctell and was inspired by a Surrey street market in Croydon. The song's meaning refers to the homelessness throughout. His soft voice leads you around the streets of London, showing you what is going on in the world. The song was released in 1969 and was an instant hit.
It went to No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart and at one point sold 90,000 copies in a single day! In 2017, the song was re-recorded by Ralph McTell with Annie Lennox for a UK national charity Crisis, in particular focusing on a charity for single homeless people.
Although London has changed since the 1960’s you can still visit the Croyden markets in London and walk through the areas that Ralph McTell is talking about. This historic area is thriving with culture and is completely different from the area discussed in the song.
The soft nature of the song makes it ideal for the kalimba, which compliments the lyrics used. Though slightly more complex than other songs, it can be picked up relatively quickly and played whenever you need to take a moment to relax.
For reference, here is a video of me playing the song on a coconut thumb piano so that you can hear what the track sounds like. When your confident, play along with me!
NOTES & LYRICS:
E E E E G G E D C C E E
Have you seen the old man in the closed-down mar-ket?
A A A C C C C C D D E D
Kick-ing up the papers with his worn-out shoes.
E E E G G G G C C B C E F E
In his eyes, you see no pride, hand-held loose-ly by his side.
A A C C C C C G A B C
Yes-ter-day's pa-per tel-ling ye-ster-day's news.