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Is 'Streets of London' a folk song

DigiTrad:
STREETS OF LONDON


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Streets of London (Ralph McTell)^^^ (63)
Is Streets Of London truly Pachelbels Canon??? (66)
MIDI Req: Streets of London (21)
Lyr Add: Streets of London parody (8)
Is 'Streets of London' a folk song (28)
Chords Req: Streets of London (Ralph McTell) (14)
Help: Streets of London (Ralph McTell) (4)


14 Jan 00 - 02:03 AM
roopoo 14 Jan 00 - 02:13 AM
GUEST 07 Nov 01 - 08:32 AM
Marymac90 07 Nov 01 - 08:38 AM
GUEST 07 Nov 01 - 09:11 AM
MMario 07 Nov 01 - 09:15 AM
GUEST 07 Nov 01 - 09:53 AM
MMario 07 Nov 01 - 09:58 AM
GUEST,mgarvey@pacifier.com 07 Nov 01 - 10:26 AM
MMario 07 Nov 01 - 10:34 AM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Nov 01 - 10:48 AM
Don Firth 07 Nov 01 - 11:10 AM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Nov 01 - 04:00 PM
GUEST,Erin 16 Jun 04 - 05:00 PM
mack/misophist 16 Jun 04 - 05:40 PM
Joe_F 16 Jun 04 - 07:19 PM
s&r 16 Jun 04 - 07:25 PM
DonMeixner 17 Jun 04 - 12:17 AM
Leadfingers 17 Jun 04 - 12:28 PM
The Fooles Troupe 17 Jun 04 - 07:56 PM
BDenz 17 Jun 04 - 11:55 PM
BK Lick 18 Jun 04 - 02:45 AM
GUEST,pat wood 10 Aug 08 - 08:12 AM
greg stephens 10 Aug 08 - 08:25 AM
Andy Jackson 10 Aug 08 - 08:34 AM
Doc John 10 Aug 08 - 09:44 AM
GUEST 10 Aug 08 - 09:49 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 10 Aug 08 - 09:53 AM
squeezebox-kc 10 Aug 08 - 09:58 AM
goatfell 10 Aug 08 - 02:20 PM
Peace 10 Aug 08 - 02:22 PM
Little Robyn 10 Aug 08 - 03:23 PM
Peace 10 Aug 08 - 03:25 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 08 - 03:32 PM
Leadfingers 10 Aug 08 - 05:05 PM
Don Firth 10 Aug 08 - 06:00 PM
The Fooles Troupe 10 Aug 08 - 07:27 PM
Peace 10 Aug 08 - 07:30 PM
Big Al Whittle 10 Aug 08 - 08:08 PM
Uncle_DaveO 10 Aug 08 - 08:12 PM
Uncle_DaveO 10 Aug 08 - 08:20 PM
Gurney 11 Aug 08 - 01:58 AM
GUEST,glueman 11 Aug 08 - 02:10 AM
the button 11 Aug 08 - 04:50 AM
GUEST 11 Aug 08 - 06:15 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 11 Aug 08 - 07:50 AM
Jack Campin 11 Aug 08 - 07:51 AM
Leadfingers 11 Aug 08 - 07:59 AM
Bonzo3legs 11 Aug 08 - 08:03 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 11 Aug 08 - 08:08 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: STREETS OF LONDON (Ralph McTell)
From:
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 02:03 AM

STREETS OF LONDON
(Ralph McTell)
As recorded by Ralph McTell on "Spiral Staircase" (1969)

1. Have you seen the old man in the closed-down market
Kicking up the paper with his worn out shoes?
In his eyes, you see no pride,
And held loosely at 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 don't shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London,
Show you something to make you change your mind.

2. 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 talking.
She just keeps right on walking,
Carrying her home in two carrier bags. CHORUS

3. 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,
Each tea lasts an hour and he wanders home alone. CHORUS

4. 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 in a world that doesn't care. CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Streets of London
From: roopoo
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 02:13 AM

Always takes me back to my college days and going down the market at the back of Waterloo Station where an old girl dressed in a ragged old coat tied round with string used to wander about with two very full, but neatly packed, brown paper carrier bags holding all her possessions.

Doesn't the song mention the old woman with carrier bags? I often wonder if she was the inspiration for that verse.

mouldy


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Subject: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Nov 01 - 08:32 AM

'Streets of London' by Ralph Mctell, is a folk song by most criteria - apart from the fact that we know who wrote it.

Comments welcomed


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Marymac90
Date: 07 Nov 01 - 08:38 AM

I agree with you--however, the question of "What is folk?" has been thrashed and rethrashed on mudcat, so perhaps not many will want to join the fray again. Look in the archives by using the Super-search to see what's been said already.

Marymac


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Nov 01 - 09:11 AM

"What is folk?" has been thrashed and rethrashed on mudcat

Was there ever an answer?


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: MMario
Date: 07 Nov 01 - 09:15 AM

No - there never has been an answer - and probably never will be. except that most people have agreed to disagree on the definition of "folk music"


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Nov 01 - 09:53 AM

OK, thanks - sorry for retreading


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: MMario
Date: 07 Nov 01 - 09:58 AM

no problem - but you WILL find a bunch of discussion if you do a forum search on the subject. After that - it is everyone's opinion for themselves!


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: GUEST,mgarvey@pacifier.com
Date: 07 Nov 01 - 10:26 AM

I will never understand why people would want to read old discussions. To me it would be like wanting to hear a tape recording of a conversation people had a couple of y ears ago rather than have a conversation on the same topic again. If you were at a party and this topic came up, would you say we discussed this last year and here is a transcript of the conversation? ....you could of course change the topic or move to another group of people....just my opinion. To each his own. I never read old discussions though. They seem stale to me. mg


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: MMario
Date: 07 Nov 01 - 10:34 AM

I frequently read (and in some cases re-read) old discussions on the forum. Those I missed the first time around, or from "before my time" are no more "stale" then a thread I wander into after having been offline overnight.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Nov 01 - 10:48 AM

Depends on the discussion. Depends on the convewrsation. Give me a tape of a discussion between, say Pete Seeger and Martin carthy and I wouldn't care how long ago it had been recorded.

On the Mudcat, you mean to say mgarvey, you could read the thread about the hunt for Spancil Hill and not be fascinated? Stale? Stale as old whiskey.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Nov 01 - 11:10 AM

Mary, there is incredible amount of knowledge, scholarship, and fine writing to be found in many of the Mudcat threads. I am very grateful that they are being archived and are readily available. It's like having a bookshelf full of reference books. One can learn a great deal by digging through old threads.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Nov 01 - 04:00 PM

I'd suggest anyone wanting to carry om this should move over to the duplicate Streets of London thread


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Subject: RE: Streets of London
From: GUEST,Erin
Date: 16 Jun 04 - 05:00 PM

Mcginty also sings it...but they say the "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" alot more....i really like it.


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Subject: RE: Streets of London
From: mack/misophist
Date: 16 Jun 04 - 05:40 PM

The closest I've ever been to London was Heathrow. Any large city would do, I bet. The saddest thing is that some of them (on the street) are young. They say that 6 months on the street can warp you for the rest of your life. I'm lucky, I only had 3 or 4.


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Subject: RE: Streets of London
From: Joe_F
Date: 16 Jun 04 - 07:19 PM

Yes, "carrier bags". "Big shopping bags" must be an Americanization -- unnecessary, thinks this Yank, who guessed the meaning with no trouble.

Another Britishism I took note of is "on his own" in the sense "unaccompanied" rather than "unassisted". I might say an infant or an invalid could sit up on his own, but in my dialect at least, the context of the song would require "by himself" (which wouldn't rhyme).


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Subject: RE: Streets of London
From: s&r
Date: 16 Jun 04 - 07:25 PM

Strangely some (wrong )versions have 'hands held loosely at his side; even odder - 'picking up the papers with his worn-out shoes'.

Should be 'wanders home alone' and old girl.

stu


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Subject: RE: Streets of London
From: DonMeixner
Date: 17 Jun 04 - 12:17 AM

A long time favorite of mine and not over done this side of the pond. One of the most often requested songs by our audiences.
And my Mom's favorite.

Don


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Subject: RE: Streets of London
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Jun 04 - 12:28 PM

Funny thing Don but its one of my old Mum's favourites too.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Streets of London
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Jun 04 - 07:56 PM

I went off this song after it first came out as a 'pop' song - the Christian groups trying to hook in 'young people' played it to death...

Robin


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Streets of London
From: BDenz
Date: 17 Jun 04 - 11:55 PM

When I sing it, it's still a hit at local folk sing-alongs/open mics. But I can see how a pop or an Americanized version would get done to death. McTell's version was magical.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Streets of London
From: BK Lick
Date: 18 Jun 04 - 02:45 AM

MIDI available at Yet Another Digital Tradition Page -- a mirror of the DT with a few extras:
Here's yet another index of the Digital Tradition Folk Music Database; you can read about the Digital Tradition at their main site at Mudcat. This version differs in that songs which have tunes have those tunes available as GIFs or PostScript scores. This version is currently using the Spring '02 version of the database.

The score is also offered in ABC, SongWright, and Lilypond format, as well as Pennywhistle notation and Dulcimer tab!

-- BK


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: GUEST,pat wood
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 08:12 AM

yes streets of London is a folk song,yet more than that. in a way it is London, because it describes the real London.As in the days when it was written, the places and people described in the song can still be found today, if you know where to look. It is a timeless piece of music.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: greg stephens
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 08:25 AM

Even though it was actually written about Paris?


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Andy Jackson
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 08:34 AM

To not read old threads is like never listening to a Radio or Television discussion. You cannot join in or contribute to either, but you can still learn from other people's comments.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Doc John
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 09:44 AM

As long it's not the version with orchestra, choir etc, yes


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 09:49 AM

I agree


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 09:53 AM

Oh, and by the way, it isn't a folk song!


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: squeezebox-kc
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 09:58 AM

never heard a horse sing it
I'll get me coat


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: goatfell
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 02:20 PM

remember the songs that were written back then the are now concerned folk songs were written by someone, so the pop songs that are written today in the future will become folk songs, and the streets of London is a folk song, because it is a contemporary one


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Peace
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 02:22 PM

I don't care whether it's folk or not. I like the song.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Little Robyn
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 03:23 PM

At the time we started singing it (1967) we considered it a 'contemporary' folk song, as opposed to a 'traditional' one.
Nothing's changed, has it?
Ask Ralph what he thinks.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Peace
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 03:25 PM

Indeed, we fast approach the preccipus/prespitous/pressapiss edge from which no thread returns.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 03:32 PM

I like it too


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Leadfingers
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 05:05 PM

Greg - Can you enlarge on the 'written about Paris ' please ?


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Don Firth
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 06:00 PM

I think you'll find that every city of any size possesses the same elements that prompted the writing of "Steets of London."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 07:27 PM

A lotta folk used to sing it...

I used to like it.

Our family would go to Bagara beach camping ground for XMAS.

Not a lot to do there before TV caught on... then the 'born again coffee shop' started playing it endlessly as some sort of hymn, and claimed that it was a 'Xtian song'... sorta try not to remember it too many times a year now, but still like it occasionally....


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Peace
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 07:30 PM

I ain't heard it in over 30 years. I just remember it. Good song.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 08:08 PM

Is Streets of Baltimore a folksong?
Streets of Laredo......
and what of The Street of a Thousand Arseholes....?


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 08:12 PM

Of course not.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 08:20 PM

Let me enlarge on that.

I happen to like the song.

But of course not.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Gurney
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 01:58 AM

Of course it is. Folkies like me sing it for itself.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 02:10 AM

Streets of London was the first song that made me realise folk was going downhill or I had little in common with folkies. So I would conclude no, it certainly isn't a folk song. It's a 60s pop ballad.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: the button
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 04:50 AM

We used to sing it in assembly at junior school.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 06:15 AM

I've never heard a horse sing it


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 07:50 AM

Of course it's a folk song.

First of all, it was written by a singer/songwriter, same as the person who wrote the very first ever song, regardless of names or no names.

Secondly, it is about a place, a time, a people.

I used to work in London back in the 70s, when there were many homeless people on the streets of London. Sadly, there are now even more.

There was a very special lady who used to rest in the Ladies Toilets in Baker Street Station, by the table they had in there. She'd be there almost every day, when I'd pop in on my way home. She had bags on her feet, coat tied up with string, all her possessions with her, in those 'two carrier bags' that Ralph sang of. She was the most erudite woman to talk to. She'd sit at that table sharing a cup of tea with the lady who cleaned the toilets, and she'd write postcards to her friends, all over the world. She always had a smile for everyone and a kind word and she told me she was happy, living her life the way she chose to. Whether that was true or not, I don't know. But every evening, she'd smile at me, "Hello, my dear!"

I saw Ralph perform that song at Brunel University. It brought tears then, and it still does, because of the empathy inside his words and the memory of that sweet, elderly lady.

Ralph McTell - Streets of London (1975)


And another version, gently and feelingly, sung by Sinead.

'Streets of London' - sung by Sinead O'Connor


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 07:51 AM

I find the persona of the song's narrator REALLY unpleasant - stereotypical misogynistic arrogance putting down someone else's pain (presumably the addressee is a woman) with that "you think you've got it bad? let me tell you something..." crap. And there's nothing in the song that suggests McTell was being in any way ironic.

And the tune is trite and whiny.

Whatever genre you assign it to, it's shite.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Leadfingers
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 07:59 AM

Dont beat about the bush Jack - Tell us what you REALLY think .


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 08:03 AM

"I find the persona of the song's narrator REALLY unpleasant - stereotypical misogynistic arrogance putting down someone else's pain (presumably the addressee is a woman) with that "you think you've got it bad? let me tell you something..." crap. And there's nothing in the song that suggests McTell was being in any way ironic.

And the tune is trite and whiny.

Whatever genre you assign it to, it's shite."

Oh for Clapton's sake, and for my next trendy lefty wifty wofty nonsense!!!


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Subject: RE: Is 'Streets of London' a folk song
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 08:08 AM

Why would the addressee be a woman????????

And far from putting down someone else's pain, the song is highlighting it, Jack.

Highlighting it for every selfish, uncaring, unfeeling b*stard, male or female, who pushes the homeless out of the way, or ignores them completely, because they make them feel 'uneasy' as they worry about not finding the right shoes to wear for tonight's party, or not being able to get the car of their dreams in the right colour, or their curtains don't match, or they can't get the beer they want...etc..etc

Sheesh..

And you think *Ralph* was being arrogant?


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