What's The Best Song Lyric About London?

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 49 months ago
What's The Best Song Lyric About London?

We reckon Noël Coward wrote one of the best London lyrics. Photo by tezzer57, in the Londonist Flickr pool.

London has inspired the lyrics to many a beautiful song — lyrics that express frustration, bitterness, bliss and hope.

We've selected a few of our favourite London lyrics (below). Now we'd like to hear about the ones you love, and the reasons why you love them.

For now, we're just after lyrics that feature in songs, not stand-alone poetry. Oh, and the lyric doesn't necessarily have to include the word 'London'.

If enough of you get back to us, we'll compile your comments in a follow-up article.

"This is London, not Antarctica, so why don't the Tubes run all night?"

John Peel-beloved indie outfit Hefner were themselves in love with London. This is none more evident than in their 2000 album We Love the City. It's liberally sprinkled with lovelorn, Londoncentric fables (In Painting and Kissing, singer Darren Hayman tumbles into a doomed relationship with an artsy type living on Holloway Road; the beginning of She Can't Sleep No More features the ambient sounds of a greasy spoon). The above lyric from the opening, eponymous song is especially poignant, because it's a question we find ourselves asking TfL staff more or less every weekend. Of course, that's set to change soon. And by then, there won't be any staff left to grumble at anyway.

"London Pride has been handed down to us / London Pride is a flower that's free / London Pride means our own dear town to us / And our pride it forever will be"

When Noël Coward crooned about 'London Pride' in his 1941 ditty, he wasn't singing about LGBT festivals or lacklustre ale. The London Pride in question here is a hardy perennial that sprung up amongst the rubble of the Blitz. Coward noted that the flower had much in common with the stiff upper lip of Londoners, and wrote London Pride song to cheer their hearts. Who says propaganda can't be inspired?

"There's a picture by his first wife on the wall / Stripped floor-boards in the kitchen and the hall / A stain from last week's party on the stairs / No one knows who made it or how it ever got there"

Ever shrugged off the pub in favour of a house party, then regretted it soon after? In the early 1990s, Jarvis Cocker had one such experience at 59 Lyndhurst Grove in Peckham. Being Jarvis Cocker though, he went and wrote a song about it. Our cherry-picked lyric perfectly encapsulates a middle-class London household and its restrained party atmosphere. Cocker was less restrained, and got himself booted out of the party.

"Liquid pictures of the town / How I fancy misty hours / On a rainy thoroughfare / I like London with umbrellas everywhere"

Not sure if you've noticed this, but in London it rains quite a bit. Certainly, this didn't escape the attention of Blossom Dearie. But unlike the droves of commuters who make a beeline for the nearest Pret awning as soon as it starts spitting, I Like London in the Rain embraces the inclement weather. Dearie's childlike lyrics reflect the sentiment of dashing out into the streets and splashing around.

Last Updated 11 July 2014