Left hand out, now let it stay, London’s nightlife is described as a seedy jungle with ‘Girls in the corner, boys looking for a fight’, while the underlying conservatism of the hip is addressed with the pay-off ‘When you get engaged you know you’ve reached your goal.’ Ouch. Meanwhile, for all his complimentary chatter about the stylish suits and peacoats that the ‘London blokes’ are rocking, Kanye is all about the Ribena.
The song was supposed to be about the end of Merseybeat, called “Liverpool Sunset”. The sprawling mutant folk collective tells the story of a young gent carousing through London’s streets, where he meets, pulls and ultimately does the wild thing with a fair maid. Neil Tennant remembers Soho in the ’70s, which inspired his band’s timeless ode to London nightlife: ‘“West End Girls” is a song that’s very specifically about London. The time was right for that sort of song because of the protest movement and that social awareness that was apparent in all songs. There are artists called Whitechapel, Angel and Rixton (close enough), but we had to find a place on this list for the only singer we can think of who’s actually named after a London station.
Damon Albarn explains his chronicle of Britpop-era London: ‘It’s about being lost on the Westway… it’s a romantic thing, it’s hopeful. What is it about the song that makes people want to sing along? When used in a name (e.g., East Bridgford), the word "North," "East," "South," or "West" is part of a proper noun , which are written with capital letters. The site contains over 3,500 nursery rhymes, cartoons and kids' songs.
Wakens bird and beast. They simply lazed around the park, feeding the ducks and crying – yes, crying – at the sheer beauty of nature. To protect himself, Glenn pulled a piece of glass from the Rainbow’s broken window and got arrested.
The raw immediacy and tight instrumental attack of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's self-titled debut album were startling and impressive in 1965, but the following year, the group significantly upped the ante with its second LP, East-West. But until we’re taught otherwise, husband and wife duo John and Beverly Martyn’s classic sums up the splendour of a view which takes in the capital’s greenest and glassiest extremes (and from where, if you’re lucky, you can hear the lions at the zoo roar). Bleak? Butterfield was the frontman, and his harp work was fierce and potent, but the core of the band was the dueling guitar work of Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, especially Bloomfield's ferocious, acrobatic solos, while Mark Naftalin's keyboards added welcome washes of melodic color, and the rhythm section of bassist Jerome Arnold and drummer Billy Davenport were capable of both the rock-solid support of veteran blues players and the more flexible and artful pulse of a jazz combo, rising and relaxing with the dynamics of a performance. In 2011 Ed didn’t look old enough to have left the Scouts, let alone the bosom of his family.
“London Town” was a cute and funky tune, something I was still playing well into the 1980s.
Ray Davies explains how he wrote the greatest London song of all: ‘I used to go past Waterloo every day on my way to Croydon Art School; when I was a kid my father took me to the Festival Of Britain; my first real girlfriend, we walked by the Thames; I was in hospital at the old St Thomas’s and my room had a balcony looking out over the river.
And that whole thing of being a northerner and coming down to London: I always had that feeling, and still do, of escaping into the West End. Blake spoke to Time Out about the late punk singer: ‘He was a great poet, wasn’t he? Chase And Status are better known for their tartrazine dubstep workouts than their pithy lyrics, but this recent outing is worth a listen just for the delightful novelty of hearing Georgian supersoul singer Cee Lo using phrases such as ‘beautiful birds’, ‘blokes… get a Chelsea grin’ and ‘tell the old bill fuck off’.
In 1989, a young film student at St Martins found himself kicked out of his flat in Camberwell and temporarily homeless. Pointing EAST and WEST we'll find,
Firstly, employing an instrumental break as a chorus (though sadly the old myth about Bob Holness playing the sax line is just that). After the New York show where he was immortalised smashing his favourite bass by photographer Pennie Smith, this clattering, menacing Brit-dub anthem was Paul Simonon’s second finest hour.
He used words beautifully, because he was interested in words. This song has been printed from the BusSongs.com website. The first song [‘Two Divided by Zero’] on the first Pet Shop Boys album is about running away to London. On January 18 1981, 14 young black people were killed in a house fire which swept through a birthday party at 439 New Cross Road. The Bard Of Barking has made no secret of his love for William Blake, going so far as to name the album from which this is taken ‘William Bloke’.
Unless we’re misinterpreting it and he was all in favour of breaking the unions – in which case, maybe this isn’t as good a song as we thought. So I started writing “The Streets Of Paris”. She promises ’music and dancing and a place for romancing’, all of which have sadly been outlawed by park ordinances in the intervening years.
They were putting a definite London accent to the soul music we all loved: a touch of reggae, a bit of rock. Try another.
This late-career classic rocker casts Dame Elton as a veritable Nelson’s Column of the music biz, observing the many changes in London’s social (and political) composition from on high. The titans of twee pulled off a neat lyrical coup by using GLR’s traffic report as a metaphor for the singer’s desperate attempts to reach his girl, as night falls heavy and dark in The Big Smoke. The debut showed that Butterfield and his bandmates could cut tough, authentic blues (not a given for an integrated band during the era in which fans were still debating if a white boy could play the blues) with the energy of rock & roll, but East-West was a far more ambitious set, with the band showing an effective command of jazz, Indian raga, and garagey proto-psychedelia as well as razor-sharp electric blues. Then the person in the song gets in a car and drives all the way up to Primrose Hill and says ‘It’s windy here and the view’s so nice.’ If you go to the top of Primrose Hill, someone’s written the lyric there – it’s been there for what, 12 years now, which is fantastic. ‘If you’re a Londoner just like me, meet me in Battersea Park!’ sings an unreasonably chirpy Clark, who was obviously either living rough there or just really, really ahead of the curve when it came to the flashmob phenomenon. As local historians, students of former resident Christopher Marlowe and fans of Madness will know, the area bordering Shoreditch was once an autonomously governed ‘liberty’ controlled by St Paul’s Cathedral. The lyrics to Radiohead’s alienation anthem – their second big hit after the success of ‘Creep’ – were inspired by the fake foliage of the Canary Wharf development, which was brand new at the time. By the time we recorded it as “Gertcha!”, we changed one lyric: “When me rock ’n’ roll records wake him up” became “When me punk rock records wake him up.” Then it got used on a beer ad and made us some money. But this trad jazz classic, borrowed heavily from ‘Old Man River’, portrays London’s watery artery in a way that seems recognisable in its citizenry: placid and hard to read on the surface, but with some serious hidden depths. Manilow’s characteristically overblown ode to the world’s all-time greatest city bar none shoehorns in every possible cliche about the capital – from Big Ben to cups of tea to ‘dodging the rain’ into its four-minute running time – and yet still sound like… well, an Ocado order of clichés. Simple enough – but we haven’t been able to find any convincing theories to explain the baffling line ‘I put in the money and pull out a plum’, let alone why anyone would bring a curry on the tube.
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