Songs about London
Some of the world’s most well-known musicians have called London home since the dawn of time. The thriving metropolis has been the birthplace of a wide variety of influential musical subcultures over the years, from the 1960s blues revival to the 1970s and 1980s punk rock.
From The Clash’s iconic “London Calling” to The Belles classic “A Rainy Night in Soho,” this playlist has it all when it comes to music about the city of London.
12 Songs About London
1. Werewolves of London – Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon
First on our list of songs about london is this upbeat song about Halloween was written by Warren Zevon in the late ’60s, when he was a member of the successful group The Everly Brothers.
Zevon’s album Excitable Boy features a cameo by Jackson Browne, who served as both producer and guest vocalist. When the moon is full, the man in the Werewolf legend transforms into a terrifying wolf.
2. “Up the Junction” by Squeeze
The lyrics of this song beautifully capture the experience of living a normal life. It was written by Squeeze members Glenn Tillbrook and Chris Difford.
There are a few references to London throughout the narrative, although it is not primarily set there. Lyrics in the song’s opening line proclaim, “I never dreamed it would happen with me and the girl from Clapham,” a reference to a district in southwest London.
Clapham Junction is a railroad station, hence the “Junction” reference. The song’s title comes from a British novel first released in 1963. Both a BBC stage production and a feature-length film are based on the book. When someone is “Up the Junction,” they may be pregnant or in grave danger.
While the song itself lasted about three minutes, its lyrics resembled a little soap opera. Because of the narrator, the narrator’s fiance becomes pregnant, and the narrator accepts a job offer from Stanley (“He said I’d come in useful”).
After giving birth to a daughter and breaking up with the narrator because the father/boyfriend started drinking frequently, the girlfriend ended up leaving him for a soldier.
Seems like he is actually “Up the Junction.” After debuting at number one, the song eventually reached number two on the UK Singles Chart.
3. Mile End – Pulp
This song from the 1990s was released as a single on the album Something Changed and then used in the score for the movie Trainspotting.
The squalid existence of some London squatters is the subject of this song. Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey, two band members, wrote the song after being inspired by their own, less-than-ideal life situations.
4. Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks
The song’s lead singer, Ray Davies, had to walk across London’s Waterloo Bridge on his way to class, so he decided to write an ode to the landmark. Lyricists Terry and Julie recount the narrative of two made-up people who meet under a bridge and decide to run away together to a foreign land and start a new life.
Even though “Waterloo Sunset” is fiction, the themes of renewal and love are deeply personal to Davies, and he felt as though listeners were reading his diary when he and The Kinks published the song.
5. London Calling – The Clash
The radio announcer proclaimed, “London calling to the outlying communities.” In this very spot, before your very ears, is one of the most famous songs ever written about London. The Clash’s signature tune is a London-centric dystopian anthem.
All possible “apocalyptic” outcomes for London and the world are spelled out in the song’s lyrics. This song is a tribute to London, which played a significant part in the birth of so much real talent in the 1960s and 1970s, and it is recognized as a punk rock classic because of its eerie and straightforward production.
6. Streets of London – Ralph McTell
Ralph McTell wrote “Streets of London” in 1968, but waited another six years before releasing it because he thought the subject matter was too bleak.
The song peaked at #2 on the charts after its 1969 release on his Spiral Staircase album. McTell penned the lyrical tune after spending time on the streets of France as a busker and interacting with a wide range of people.
7. Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty
Taking the twists and turns of Baker Street. You’re out on your feet but not on your feet. Artist Gerry Rafferty narrates a touching tale of a man who wants to make changes in his life but can’t even get out of his own way, reflecting on his own adventures as a resident of London’s Baker Street. To cope with this reality, he turns to taking alcohol.
8. LDN – Lily Allen
Lily Allen’s song has an upbeat production, yet the lyrics deal with the seedier side of life in London. While studying the works of Romantic poets, William Wordsworth and his song Written upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802 served as an inspiration for Allen. She wrote “LDN” in an attempt to be as forthright with her sentiments about the city of London as Wordsworth was with his.
9. Mornington Crescent – Belle and Sebastian
The lyrics emphasize the perils of quick pleasure and are set in the context of a coming-of-age story whose protagonist is disillusioned with contemporary society. As the name suggests, “Mornington Crescent” refers to a perpetually broken-down subway stop. The song was included on Belle and Sebastian’s album The Life Pursuit.
10. Brompton Oratory – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
To quote the song: “Into its big shadowy vault I go.” The action of “Brompton Oratory” revolves on a modest Catholic church in a residential area of London.
In terms of its religious undertones, the song alludes to Jesus’ reunion with his followers. Although the moral of the song is that individuals do eventually return, it appears that the protagonist in the song isn’t so lucky.
An abundance of literary allusions fill the lyrics, including a reference to Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
11. Take Me Back to London – Ed Sheeran
Stormzy, a London rapper, joined Ed Sheeran on a 2019 track honoring the city of London. The lyrical subject matter revolves around the musicians’ triumphant return to London after a lengthy absence.
Multiple songs, including a remix of Sheeran’s smash single “Shape of You,” have contributions from both Sheeran and Stormzy. This is one of the best songs about london.
12. Electric Avenue – Eddy Grant
It wasn’t just the United States and the United Kingdom that went crazy for this Reggae-pop smash. However, the song’s message of racial inequity may have been lost on some listeners who were more interested in the catchy rhythm.
Because it was the first street in London to use electrically powered street lights, the moniker “Electric Avenue” stuck. The track alludes to the violent clashes between protesters and police that took place in the area in the early 1980s.