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Streets of London Song

Intermediate Level Listening Practice

Streets of London is a song by Ralph McTell and is, perhaps, the song I have used the most for teaching vocabulary and comprehension at an intermediate level. Look at the images below. What do you think it's going to be about?

Any ideas?

What about this image ...

Now listen to the song. This is my version.

Were you right?

Well, the images showed one of the themes. There is another main theme in the song? Any ideas what it is now that you've listened to it? Listen again. What does the second verse after the chorus, suggest?

Before we discuss it further, let me tell you about the songwriter and background to the song.

Who is Ralph McTell and why did he write the song?

Ralph McTell is an English singer-songwriter and acoustic guitar player who has been an influential figure on the UK folk music scene since the 1960s. He is best known for this song "Streets of London", which has been covered by over two hundred artists around the world.

The song was inspired by Raph’s experiences busing and hitchhiking throughout Europe, especially in Paris and the individual stories are taken from Parisians. He was originally going to call the song "Streets of Paris`’ - but eventually London was chosen because he realised he was singing about London

Ralph recorded it in 1969. The song was re-released, on 4 December 2017, featuring him with Annie Lennox as a charity single for CRISIS, the Homelessness Charity.

So, that should have given you a pretty good idea about the other theme of the song? When you listen to it, see if you can identify any other themes? This is the charity single version.

Now, listen to it again and as you do, see if you can identify the words that go in the gaps below. You might have to listen to it more than once.

You can download a pdf version below. Fill in the gaps, make a copy and send it to me (you'll need to register and log in). I will send you the completed lyrics with an explanation of difficult vocabulary.

Let me know if you like the song? You've seen/heard that the song is about homelessness and loneliness. Do you think it has any other themes? What other theme(s) do you think it has?

Streets of London Gap Fill
Download PDF • 97KB

By the way, there is a grammatical mistake in the lyrics. Did you spot it? Let me know.

Please feel free to comment or contact me to discuss.


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