London songs

First outing to Chatsworth Road Market, the day after moving to London from Barcelona.

First outing to Chatsworth Road Market, the day after moving to London from Barcelona. Image: unraveller.

I’ve lived in London on three occasions: first in poverty and fear in squats on Upper Street and Stamford Hill, then in somewhat improved circumstances as a merchant banker, and now as a translator and grinder. These songs and my act reflect bits of that experience.

Please note:

  • All these street organ arrangements for my modifed Topsy 3 are home-made. Contact me if you want a custom arrangement - whether a modification of a number below or something new - for your own street organ, musical box, barrel piano, or whatever.
  • The MP3s below use Virtual Studio Technology: this is NOT the real sound, and someone needs to sing!
  • Lyrics or translations can be displayed live on a screen, karaoke-style.
My pervert doppelgangerMomusen1997Best song to mention Smithfield market, 'where refrigerated lorries unload dead cows.'
I can get along without youChas and Daveen1989Great ballad from the kings of London pub rock
Clever TrevorIan Duryen1977
I'm happyIvor Cutleren1967And I'll punch the man who says I'm not. A boxing classic to be.
Darling, will you marry me twice?Ivor Cutleren1967Cartesian doctrine in micro format.
I'm going in a fieldIvor Cutleren1967Green grass, yellow flowers / My lover’s eyes are blue.
Goldilocks and the three bearsAfferbeck Lauderen1965In English, but also in Australian or Strine: Girldie Larks, Girldie Larks, where have you been? / I beat up London and vented my spleen, / And then I cummome menai harrased the Behrs; / I yay tarp their porridge and bro karp their chairs. / I savaged the beds and I tordan the fences. / And frightened a little mouse out of its senses.
London is the place for meLord Kitcheneren1948Sung by Lord Kitchener as he came off the Windrush at Tilbury Docks on June 21, 1948
Video, possibly from another time or person:
The Spring (Arrangements) BillA.P. Herbert / The Singing Organ-Grinderen1936Universal basic income, old style: If any person feels he must get out of London now or bust, because the Spring is in his bones, but he must work for Mr. Jones, it shall be lawful for the same to give the Treasury his name, and say 'Upon sufficient grounds I want about a hundred pounds': and there shall not be any fuss concerning sums expended thus.
Isle of Capri / C'est à CapriWill Grosz / Jimmy Kennedy / Lew Stoneen nl fr1934Sometimes with lyrics featuring the River Lea / Lee in East London: Twas on the banks of the Lea that I met her / Under the shade of an old apple tree / Now I can still hear the sirens around me / As I lie bleeding in A and E.
My old man said follow the vanMarie Lloyd / Lily Morrisen1919For Josep Viladot, great Londoner, exiled in Gracia, Barcelona.
Two lovely black eyes / Twee ogen zo blauwCharles Coborn / Willy Derbyen nl1886I learnt the Dutch lyrics first, but my Dad croons this Gladstonian warning by an East End comedian of the dangers of politics: Two lovely black eyes! / Oh! what a surprise! / Only for telling a man he was wrong, / Two lovely black eyes!
The knocker-upAnon1880How did factory workers get out of bed before alarm clocks?
Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?Trad.en1805Cats and mice
The Barrel-OrganCharles Dibdinen1802Parody of a London German organ-grinder, who intersperses his song with other Dibdin songs: De midshipman wid de pretty girl, / He say for a tune are you willing; / So I pull out de stop and I grind and I twirl, / And all to get an odd chilling.
London Bridge is falling downTrad.en1750ish (lyrics) / 1879 (tune)
Oranges and lemonsTrad.en1744?Games and dances
A roaring boy's descriptionSamuel Rowlandsen1612London hooligans, from 'A Paire of Spy-Knaves'

Update: 2023/03/06