RALPH McTELL – Streets of London
aaamusic | On 27, Dec 2017
The beautiful contemporary classic ‘Streets of London’ , written by singer-songwriter Ralph McTell, has been covered by over 200 artists including Cilla Black, Cat Stevens, Glen Campbell and Sinead O’Connor. It was inspired by Ralph’s extensive travels and contrasts the problems of everyday people with those of the homeless who have largely been ignored and forgotten by society. It became his best known song and his greatest commercial success, winning him the 1974 Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.
Half a century later ‘Streets of London’ was re-recorded and released on 4th December 2017 in time for Christmas to raise money for the national homeless people charity Crisis, which also has its 50th anniversary this year. It features Ralph McTell, legendary vocalist Annie Lennox, Richard Thompson on guitar and the 88 strong Crisis Choir conducted by Tim Rhys-Evans of Only Men Aloud.
Crisis has 13 centres for over 4,000 homeless guests over Christmas. It works all year round to help people out of homelessness and campaigns for changes to end homelessness forever. It’s hoped the single will help support some of the many people facing homelessness this Christmas and throughout the winter months.
Ralph McTell says: “It’s 50 years since I wrote Streets of London and it saddens me that the issues raised in the song are still so relevant today. When the idea of a single to support Crisis was mooted, I was very pleased that it might help raise awareness of the charity’s work and the wider issue of homelessness. I have been performing a Christmas concert in aid of Crisis for a few years now; inspired by its commitment to improving the circumstances of so many. I was also thrilled that the wonderful Annie Lennox was prepared to lend her voice to a new recording, and when I discovered that Crisis had its own choir, it offered the perfect opportunity to create a new and exciting version of a song so many people know.”
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, added: “Our heartfelt thanks go to Ralph McTell, Annie Lennox and all Crisis clients and staff who lent their voices to this record. The vital funds and awareness it will raise will help us support even more people facing homelessness this Christmas. It’s 50 years since Crisis was founded as an urgent response to an unacceptable situation – and it’s nothing less than a tragedy that we are still here today when homelessness should be a thing of the past. This collaboration between our clients and Ralph McTell can help us to raise awareness of the similar crisis we’re facing 50 years on. But homelessness isn’t inevitable and we’ll continue to work to ensure we won’t be needed in another 50 years’ time.”
In 1974 the iconic ‘Streets of London’ rose to number two in the charts at Christmas, at one point selling 90,000 copies in a day. It’s timeless lyrics spoke of the loneliness and isolation of very vulnerable people. Today things don’t seem to have changed much. Homelessness continues to spiral due to living costs, a lack of affordable housing and changes to the welfare system. Meanwhile, Crisis remains just as committed in helping with housing, health, education and employment.