Ralph McTell has re-recorded his iconic hit ‘Streets of London’ alongside the Crisis Choir and legendary singer-songwriter Annie Lennox, to help the homeless at Christmas.
The release, which falls in-line with the 50th anniversary of both Crisis – the national charity for homeless people – and the original penning of the song (wasn’t released until 1974), will raise money for thousands of people facing homelessness this Christmas, many of whom will have nowhere to turn as the winter months close in.
To mark the occasion, the Crisis Choir, who support McTell and Lennox, is made up of 88 homeless clients and staff from across the country and is conducted by Only Men Aloud’s Tim Rhys-Evans, while the recording also features Fairport Convention’s Richard Thompson on guitar.
“It’s 50 years since I wrote Streets of London and it saddens me that the issues raised in the song are still so relevant today,” says McTell.
“When the idea of a single to support Crisis was mooted, I was very pleased that it might help raise awareness of the charity’s work and the wider issue of homelessness.
“I have been performing a Christmas concert in aid of Crisis for a few years now; inspired by its commitment to improving the circumstances of so many.
“I was also thrilled that the wonderful Annie Lennox was prepared to lend her voice to a new recording, and when I discovered that Crisis had its own choir, it offered the perfect opportunity to create a new and exciting version of a song so many people know.”
‘Streets of London’ is a song that has stood the test of time, with over 200 artists, including Cat Stevens and Glen Campbell, having covered it since 1967. It also has strong links to homelessness with its lyrics speaking of lonely figures walking through Surrey Street Market in Croydon, where Crisis, who will open 13 centres for over 4,000 homeless guests over Christmas, now has a centre.
“Our heartfelt thanks go to Ralph McTell, Annie Lennox and all Crisis clients and staff who lent their voices to this record,” says Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis.
“The vital funds and awareness it will raise will help us support even more people facing homelessness this Christmas.
“It’s 50 years since Crisis was founded as an urgent response to an unacceptable situation – and it’s nothing less than a tragedy that we are still here today when homelessness should be a thing of the past.
“This collaboration between our clients and Ralph McTell can help us to raise awareness of the similar crisis we’re facing 50 years on. But homelessness isn’t inevitable and we’ll continue to work to ensure we won’t be needed in another 50 years’ time.”
Recorded at Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios in Chiswick, the song costs just 99p to download and has already earned support on social media from the likes of actor Sir Ian McKellen, director Ken Loach, respected journalists Alastair Stewart and Jon Snow, plus the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Please please please listen to – and buy for just 99p https://t.co/0tqhybMHoz – Streets of London by @Ralph_McTell, the Crisis Choir & @AnnieLennox. All proceeds go to @crisis_uk who support thousands of people facing homelessness every Christmas. #StreetsofLondon pic.twitter.com/jLoFSzSlO2
— Ian McKellen (@IanMcKellen) 4 December 2017