This song was written by Ralph McTell and was first recorded on his 1969 album Spiral Staircase and was released as a single in 1974. The song was inspired by McTell's experiences busking and hitchhiking throughout Europe, especially in London and Paris. Though the individual stories are those of Parisians, he chose to use the name London in the song.
Have you seen the old man
In the closed-down market
Kicking up the paper,
With his worn out shoes?
In his eyes you see no pride
And held loosely at his side
Yesterday's paper telling yesterday's news
So how can you tell me you're lonely,
And say for you that the sun don't shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I'll show you something to make you change your mind
Have you seen the old girl
Who walks the streets of London
Dirt in her hair and her clothes in rags?
She's no time for talking,
She just keeps right on walking
Carrying her home in two carrier bags.
In the all night cafe
At a quarter past eleven,
Same old man is sitting there on his own
Looking at the world
Over the rim of his tea-cup,
Each tea last an hour
Then he wanders home alone
And have you seen the old man
Outside the seaman's mission
Memory fading with
The medal ribbons that he wears.
In our winter city,
The rain cries a little pity
For one more forgotten hero
And a world that doesn't care
I learnt this song at the Hammersmith Irish Centre in London.
You can hear this song on the following album:
Different versions of this song
Information about this song