When I started learning to play the guitar I bought a guitar method book, The Complete Guitar Player. Book 4. According the book I should be fairly competent guitar player after finishing the book. Well I can´t say that the book fulfilled this promise because I was still rather clumsy guitar player even though I played through every song in the book. One of these songs was the song, Streets of London by Ralph McTell. Many years later when I and few co-workers were supposed to bring some entertainment to a Christmas party I remembered this fine song. The song fits brilliantly with the lyrics of the poem Tindátarnir by Steinn Steinarr. We decided to read the poem with the support of this song. I wrote a simple arrangement of the song. You are welcome to download the arrangement if you want to play it.
He wrote the song in 1967 for his first album, Eight Frames a Second, but decided not to because of the song's depressing lyrics. The first recording of the song is from 1969 for his second album, Spiral Staircase. In 1970, a single was released with the song. It became hugely popular. Over a period of time over 90.000 thousand copies were sold a day. More than 200 artists have made a cover of the song. Including artists such as Bert Jansch, Sinead O'Connor, Cliff Richard and Roger Wittager. Fifty years after McTell wrote the song, he made another recording of it with Annie Lennox and the Crisis Choir. You can hear that recording here.
In lyrics of the song, McTell paints images of the lives of homeless people on the streets of London. These images were undoubtedly painted in his mind when he was busking all around Europe. In fact, the text was originally intended to be about the street people in Paris because McTell played a lot there. When he discovered that there was already a song called Poor People of Paris, he switched Paris for London. The text, of course, can just as well apply to life on the streets of either city.
The version I play in the video is fairly close to the arrangement. When I read the arrangement after I recorded my playing I saw that I am not playing it exactly right but it is close enough.