Streets of London

by Ralph McTell • Lesson #534 • Jan 6, 2024

Hey there, friends! In this video I’ll teach you how to play Ralph McTell’s fingerstyle classic, Streets of London. This is a terrifically fun song to play, whether you’re using Travis-style fingerpicking or have a preference for a straightforward strummed version. I’ll teach both approaches – and show you how you can actually combine these playing types (as I do in my full playthrough) to make things a bit more manageable.

My lesson teaches this using capo 4th fret, which is what McTell uses in his album recording. This puts us in the Key of E (if we go by ear), but from a guitar standpoint we’re using Key of C chord shapes (C, F, G, Am, Em). There’s one non-diatonic chord required (D7/F#), but I’ll walk you through that chord to ensure you’re in good shape. Let’s get to it!

  • 0:00 Overview
  • 1:29 Strumming the Verse
  • 3:56 Strumming the Chorus
  • 8:49 Fingerstyle Intro: Melody
  • 14:46 Fingerstyle Intro: Bass Notes
  • 19:04 Fingerstyle Verse
  • 20:50 Fingerstyle Chorus
  • 24:47 Misc. Tips & Advice

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Extended Video Lessons

Play-Along Cover

Here’s how I play the song from start to finish, using a mixture of fingerstyle and strumming. Typically, I strum during the verse and chorus sections, which makes things easier to manage. I’ll use fingerstyle during the instrumental portions, where I have a bit more mental bandwidth to spare – and can focus on playing the distinctive fingerstyle riff without messing up.

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Slow Playthrough: Intro Fingerstyle

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Slow Playthrough: Verse Fingerstyle

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Slow Playthrough: Chorus Fingerstyle

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Recordings of Ralph McTell Playing Streets of London

His Original 1969 Album Recording

This video technically is the entire album, but fortunately Streets of London is the first song! Posting this so you can hear exactly how he recorded it (capo 4th fret).

Live version from 2014 (John Williams 70th Birthday Concert)

A very nice guitar duet! The audience singing along (during the chorus sections) is quite magical as well.

McTell Playing it Live 2022

He’s up there in age quite a bit in this video, but it’s great because you can see his fretting hand clearly the entire time. I’m not able to embed this video directly on my site (due to the preferences of the video owner), so you have to view this one directly on YouTube »

Here’s a handful of lessons I’ve made that may help with some of the techniques used in this song. Be sure to check out my Travis Picking page for all my lessons on that topic.

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