Streets – Ralph McTell

10 albums that shaped my musical tastes and styles

The summer of 1975 was a good one, as far as my musical influences go. Not only did I discover Tom Waits, but I was introduced to the music of Ralph McTell when I heard “Streets of London” on the radio.

His records were to hard to find then, but I did manage to get my hands on this album and, eventually, several others. I had been to Europe that summer, and this collection of songs, with references to Amsterdam, Yugoslavia, Paris and London, struck a chord.

Although more than 200 artists have covered “Streets of London,” I discovered that Ralph McTell is much better known in Europe and around the world than in the U.S. That’s our loss, because his songs are gems, bursting with empathy and understanding.

He has a particular gift for telling the stories of ordinary people living quiet lives — the factory girl, the kind father figure in the flat upstairs, the young couple in love, the older couple who stayed together and the friend who has weathered life’s storms.

In a remarkable body of work spanning more than 50 years, his gentle kindness constantly shines through.

Favorite tracks: Streets of London, Seeds of Heaven, Heron Song, Lunar Lullaby, Grande Affaire, Pity the Boy, Interest on the Loan

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