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.
All these street organ arrangements are home-made. Contact me if you want a custom arrangement for your own street organ, musical box, barrel piano, or whatever.
The MP3s below use Virtual Studio Technology: this is NOT the real sound (my organ also has percussion, and sounds more natural), and someone needs to sing!
Lyrics or translations can be displayed live on a screen, karaoke-style.
In 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.
Universal 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.
Sometimes 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.
I 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!
How did factory workers get out of bed before alarm clocks?
Parody 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.