Anti Nowhere League – Streets of London

“Streets of London” is a song written by Ralph McTell. It was first recorded for McTell’s 1969 album Spiral Staircase but was not released in the United Kingdom as a single until 1974. 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 Ivor Novello Award and a Silver disk for record sales.

The song was inspired by McTell’s experiences busking and hitchhiking throughout Europe, especially in London and Paris; although the individual stories are taken from Parisians, London is chosen for its arguably more sonorous name. The song contrasts the common problems of everyday people with those of the homeless, lonely, elderly, ignored, and forgotten members of society.

McTell left the song off his debut album, as 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 again for the UK single release in 1974.

McTell played the song in clawhammer style with an AABA chord progression. Over two hundred artists have made covers of this song including Cliff Richard, Blackmore’s Night, Mary Hopkin, Sam Hui, Sinéad O’Connor, Schooner Fare, Roger Whittaker and Anti Nowhere League.

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