I recently thought of a song that I hadn’t heard for years: ‘Streets of London’ by Ralph McTell. I don’t know why it popped into my head, but as soon as it did I looked it up on YouTube and started to listen.
I was taken by surprise when, four minutes in, the song was interrupted by a women asking, “Were you ever tempted to call ‘Streets of London’ ‘Streets of Paris’?” I stopped what I was doing to watch the video and realised that the woman was interviewing McTell in Paris.
In the video, McTell explains that originally, ‘Streets of London’ was going to be about Paris. He says, “Hand on heart I don’t think it would have been written had I not been here. Certainly the tune was here.” I did a quick Google search and discovered that sure enough, the song was inspired by McTell’s experiences of busking throughout Europe.
For all its strengths, there’s one thing no visitor to Paris can fail to notice – the sheer number of homeless people there are. Unfortunately, it’s like most major cities in that respect. So it’s not surprising to learn that the original source of inspiration for ‘Streets of London’ is in fact the French capital.