BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Music
Sold on Song. Classic songs, covers, songwriting and more. Listen Live.

 Full Schedule

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

'Streets Of London'
Ralph McTell
Ralph McTell
Is “Streets Of London” the most moving song about homelessness ever written? Does Ralph McTell deserve to be known as more than a one-hit-wonder?

Send us your comments

Disclaimer:The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

The words are so meaningful for any generation as the same problems of loneliness seem to occur again and again.


Stuart Jamieson, Falkirk
I can't deny it's a great song, but its impact has lessened in many respects by being the "only" song that people think of when homlessness. Perhaps if more songs like "The Sound Of North America" - Beautiful south which similarly contrasts the view of homeless people in the US against the image of the capitalist dream were more widely known. "Streets of London" would be regarded as the best in a wide genre of songs rather than the only song in that genre. As for Mctell himself, though I havent bought any of his records myself I do own many by his contemparies such as Gerry Rafferty, Frankie Millar and so on.. and feel that his work deserver to be more highly though of as these others are, billy connolloy amply showed this by using mctell's work on his World Tours (Particulaly Australia) and made you think more of mctell the rounded musician and not just the author of "Streets of London"

CM, Coventry
When I was a child, my Dad used to play this song on his guitar, and I used to sing along with him - I won a few competitions singing this song. Its melodic simplicity is beautiful and its message - still relevant 32 years later - is inspiring. This song has a special place in my heart for many reasons.

Pam Thompson,Adelaide Australia
Yesterday I sang this song as a duet with a friend. It was accepted so well and we felt it was very meaningful not knowing it was about Paris. Many of the audience were from England and they joined at one stage. Thank you for a lovely song which I guess could be about many other countries as well as Australia where we come from.

Doug, Cedar Hills, UT
I came across "Streets of London" by accident yesterday. I saw the name and didn't recognize it. I played it and was immediately transported back 30 years to my gradeschool in Michigan. Our music teacher taught it to us, along with various other popular and folks songs - with the hope that she could create a spark of interest in music among this rambunctious group of youngsters. As the haunting tune played back to me, I remembered every word. It still gives me chills and makes me think of our brothers and sisters in the family of man who are spread all over this great world...

ed arcilla manila, philippines
i have been a great believer in the song Streets of London by Ralph McTell. I used to sing for a living and this song is one of my favorites and makes me feel it more everytime I sing it since the song could very well be situated also in Manila (not only Paris or London) We do have such conditions that is so visible in our streets. We don't know when, if ever, it would be a thing of the past and move forward, people happy and co-existing with living conditions together be.

Paul, Bordentown NJ
I knew it was a great song, but didn't realize it was a chart-topper in the UK. You're right, he could have been talking about parts of New York or Philly. Thanks for the info.

Jenni Farringdon-Hayter, Adelaide, South Australia
Ralph McTell well deserves to be known as more than a one-hit-wonder. In the one song "Streets Of London" he has painted a masterpiece of sincerity and truth. He not only created a picture of reality in the words, but also causes the listener to realize that whatever the problem they are facing, it is nothing compared to those they see surrounding them, if they only opened their eyes.

Daan Hengelo the Netherlands
this song really shows us what's important in life

Joanie Alford, North Carolina USA
Mary Hopkin's version will always be my favorite. I would never have heard this great song, otherwise....

Annemarie Macken, rochdale
It is timeless and still meaningful. I am an English high school teacher and I play this song to my class when we work on a novel about homelessness. It insprires some great rap songs from the students

David Fulton, Moenchengladbach, Germany
Ralph Mctell has written, recorded and performed literally hundreds of beautiful and memorable songs since "Streets of London". These include "From Clare to Here" which has almost earned its status as an "Irish Anthem". He is an EXTREMELY able guitarist and has composed some of the sweetest, loveliest and cleverest melodies you or I will ever hear. It is now 2005, he's just turned 60 and he's STILL touring and recording. As for performing, he can and does hold any audience, anywhere in the world, in the palm of his hand. Ralph McTell...a one hit wonder? HA...don't make me laugh!

Rob Harper Montgomery Powys
Brilliant song. It tugs at your heart and is one of my all time favourites !

San Francisco
Given the horrendous events of the past week the lyrics took on a bittersweet new meaning. Russell

Carol Vancouver Island Canada
This is the first song my husband & I danced to when we met, and became our wedding song. An unusual choice but I'm from England & he's from London, Ontario, Canada so it just fit. I love Cliff Richard's version,& of course the brilliant Ralph McTells version too.

Sarah in Sweden
I love this song! It`s the best song ever. I listen to it every day

skwibbstaa brighton
This is what real London was, is and will be. The song is possibly one of the most important English protest songs of all time.

More songs.

Like this song? Try these...

Annie's Song

Like A Rolling Stone

Doves Doves
Special guests on Dermot's show this week

What's on

Radio 2 Documentaries
Find out more about current and forthcoming documentaries on Radio 2.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy