NORTH in front, and SOUTH behind. But in this song he’s a streetwise character with a cynic’s eye for the pleasures and pitfalls of the big city, which he credits with informing, inspiring and ultimately improving his music.

I was using alcohol to numb the senses and thus arrived at the point where “Born Slippy” was written. But until we’re taught otherwise, husband and wife duo John and Beverly Martyn’s classic sums up the splendour of a view which takes in the capital’s greenest and glassiest extremes (and from where, if you’re lucky, you can hear the lions at the zoo roar). His eyewitness song about the Queen’s coronation was broadcast on the BBC on the evening of the event. ‘All over this city, people are hungry for things that they don’t know the name of,’ raps Kate Tempest in her stunning portrait of a lonely city of screens, police lights and concrete. Then he stabbed a man during a street fight and had to leave in a hurry, hence the visa issues that stopped him from permanently swapping the Mississipi for the Thames. ‘Light up your spliff/Light up your chalice/Mek we a burn in Buk-in-hamm Palace’… said Alice. For the whole of my life I had this image of my parents living next to The Beatles, so Emperor’s Gate, to me, is a romantic thing. But ‘I Love London’ scores extra points for actively suggesting the protagonists want to go to ‘Willesden, Harlesden, Watford Junction’. Cave captures both its majesty and loneliness in this typically baroque eulogy with lines like, ‘Hail this joyful day’s return/Into its great shadowed vault I go.’.

I sing about looking for flying saucers in the sky. Post-war poverty, drugs, love and redemption – the most recorded London song of all time isn’t what you think it is.

There are dozens of songs about the tube, but most pale in comparison to Lord Kitchener’s 1950s calypso classic. Dury wrote this song to mark an exhibition by Sir Peter Blake – his former tutor at the RCA – at the Tate Gallery in 1983. Let’s move there!’. The Butterfield Blues Band sounded muscular and exciting on classic blues workouts like "Walkin' Blues," "Two Trains Running," and "I Got a Mind to Give Up Living," but the highlights came when the band pushed into new territory, such as the taut New Orleans proto-funk of "Get Out of My Life, Woman," the buzzy and mildly trippy "Mary, Mary," and especially two lengthy instrumental workouts, the free-flowing jazz of Nat Adderley's "Work Song" and the title track, a fiery mix of blues, psychedelia, Indian musical patterns, and several other stops in between, with Butterfield, Bloomfield, and Bishop blowing for all their worth. However, the song makes this list largely thanks to its canny sampling of John Betjeman’s similarly dissolute masterpiece, ‘The Cockney Amorist’. Pointing EAST, this is the way; To the left is West and to the right is East. And let’s not forget Allen is only cycling around London to start with because she lost her driver’s license. Written by BBC broadcaster Hubert Gregg in 1944, as he watched German doodlebugs passing over the city, this song represents a way of life for Larry Barnes, Pearly King of Thornton Heath: ‘If we are doing a pearly show and we don’t do it, people will always request it. Sylvia Harris was there: ‘It was the beginning of the air raids, but we went out, because we wanted to go out. We can testify from personal experience that it also makes a great soundtrack for sitting at the front of a DLR train pretending to drive. Of course there are: musicians and poets have been inspired by London for centuries – but while many have just ticked off the landmarks, a few have managed to capture London life or their own time here in a way that has earned them a place in the city’s cultural history.

But I thought: Wait a minute, these images are everywhere.

However, the arrest was more likely the result of the singer’s documented drug use in the TV documentary ‘A Boy Called Donovan’ than by the Drugs Squad poring over his lyrics. They expect it, it’s as simple as that. On the surface it’s a simply ditty about London’s ample opportunities to hear amazing music and meet interesting people at fun parties. In this era of austerity, it’s good to know there’s one place in London you can go where you won’t need to worry about tightening your belt.

When we completed our first three shows we walked off the tour after not being paid. That was the only song of ours for years that we ever printed the lyrics for or explained and, once we’d done that, then it was okay if people wanted to use it as a drinking anthem. Not everybody loves life in Hampstead.

But for once, this hasn’t put him in a maudlin mood. This title song acts as the film’s chorus: in just under four minutes of doomy strings, breakbeats and vicious rhyming, Drew drags you round his ends for a … The one thing most people have to say about it is that it’s a lot better than the South Circular. ‘London calling – speak the slang now!’ Few songs are as representative of London’s multiculturalism as this. East-West would prove to be a pivotal album in the new blues-rock movement, and it was the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's greatest achievement; Bloomfield would be gone by the time they cut their next LP to form the Electric Flag, and as good as Bishop was, losing the thrust and parry between the two guitarists was a major blow. Ray Davies explains how he wrote the greatest London song of all: ‘I used to go past Waterloo every day on my way to Croydon Art School; when I was a kid my father took me to the Festival Of Britain; my first real girlfriend, we walked by the Thames; I was in hospital at the old St Thomas’s and my room had a balcony looking out over the river. Judy Campbell was a successful young starlet then, and she came on in a satin evening frock, looking glamorous. This anthem for the Stella generation was assembled from snatches of a conversation heard on a night out in Soho. No. The lyrics, which refer to waiting for a lover on a bench in the titular micropark, are now engraved on the one nearest the south entrance, the result of a touching campaign by fans of the singer to commemorate her tragic death in 2000. Inspired by the band’s seemingly less than thrilling first trip to London, the song refers to ‘a rainy grey town known for its sound’ where ‘Small Faces abound’.

Actually, it was rebel reggae star Peter Tosh, torching his chances of a knighthood.

Nice work, London. But East-West captures a great group in high flight as the bandmembers join together in something even more remarkable than their estimable skills as individuals would suggest, and its importance as a nexus point between rock, blues, jazz, and world music cannot be overestimated. Chase And Status are better known for their tartrazine dubstep workouts than their pithy lyrics, but this recent outing is worth a listen just for the delightful novelty of hearing Georgian supersoul singer Cee Lo using phrases such as ‘beautiful birds’, ‘blokes… get a Chelsea grin’ and ‘tell the old bill fuck off’. As do we. The first song [‘Two Divided by Zero’] on the first Pet Shop Boys album is about running away to London. That was what they did in the 1990s, kids. Seriously – please let us know in the comments. Unsurprisingly, this was swiftly followed by a drugs bust which resulted in a £250 fine. The judiciary may wish to disagree with the song’s May Day riots-inspired thesis that smashing stuff up is especially heroic, but this celebration of civil unrest pays homage to a grand London tradition: remaining polite until well past boiling point, and then exploding with omnidirectional fury.

To hell with the Sex Pistols – if any punk band captured the quintessential spirit of late-’70s London, it was The Clash. ‘I took shelter from a shower, and I stepped into your arms’ croons the pseudo-Irish Islingtonian of meeting his lifelong love in one of his most tender recorded moments. It wasn’t grim, but I’m glad we moved out of it. Left hand out, now let it stay,

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