Sunday, April 22, 2007

Don't Play That Song For Me

Let's sing another song boys, this one has grown old and bitter.
--Leonard Cohen

What is it about the song Streets of London that makes it the favourite of every busker in the world? Even here in Hong Kong, it's the one English song that every street singer knows.

With over 200 covwr versions recorded, in addition to his own million-selling single, the song must have been a "nice little earner" for Ralph McTell over the years, though I guess he is probably heartily sick of being expected to sing it at every concert he gives. But if he had a dollar for every time a busker sings it on the streets somewhere, he'd be as rich as Bill Gates.

The ironic thing is that it's not even McTell's best song. I personally much prefer the narrative song The Hiring Fair, best known in the version by Fairport Convention - like a Thomas Hardy novel compressed into three minutes of music.

No comments: