Streets of London Guitar Lesson

Streets of London by Ralph McTell Guitar Lesson & TABS

Streets of London is a beautiful folk song written by English singer-songwriter Ralph McTell. The song was first recorded in 1969 but wasn't actually released in the UK until 1974.

Originally McTell had thought the song was too depressing and so it didn't make it onto his debut album 'Eight Frames a Second'. Thankfully, after some persuasion from his producer, it finally made its way on to his second studio album 'Spiral Staircase' and went on to become his most commercially successful song.  

Song Details:

  • Key - E major with capo (C major without)
  • Tuning - standard 
  • Capo - 4th
  • Difficulty - intermediate

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The intro to Streets of London moves quickly through a basic folk chord progression. The tricky part isn't the chords, it's the picking hand.

There's a lot going on and you really have to go slow when you first start out. Really make sure you've got all the notes lined up correctly before you bring it up to tempo.

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Thankfully the verse to Streets of London is very similar to the intro. I'd go as far as to say it's actually a little easier. 

Bear in mind that every time I've watch McTell play this song he plays it slightly differently, so don't feel as though you have to play it all note-for-note.

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The only other section of Streets of London is the chorus. Here we have a typical, but beautiful, descending bass line over open chords. 

Let me know what you thought of the lesson in the comments section below. Tell me what you found hard/easy and add any song suggestions that you may have.

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  1. Pam left a comment on 28th April 2020 at 3:39 am

    So happy to see this song on your top list, Chris! I’ve been trying to play this FS for a long time, but it never sounds right when I play it. It’s pretty much 8th notes but to me sounds more intricate, why do you think that is? Anyway, I’m going to give this a go and hope I finally have success. It’s such a beautiful song. Anyone not familiar with it, listen to Ralph McTell singing/playing on YouTube and I guarantee you’ll want to add it to your repertoire, with Chris’ help 🙂

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 1st May 2020 at 10:32 am

      Yeah this song had to be on the list. It is just eighth notes but there’s still a lot going on. It’s always been a favourite of mine.

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