Guest Post: Gavin Marriott On London Songs And Music

London music

When I went to school in NZ, we had no TV, and so we played games like Monopoly. We were a musical family and on Saturday nights we had a talent quest or one of us organised a show. From the other side of the world I had certainly heard of the “British invasion” – the term for the pop groups of the day. I got into a band myself and learning their songs was expected.

So when I went to London in 1980 it all proved real. Getting dispatched to jobs from Ambulance Control was like they were using a Monopoly board.

Then our Chelsea station did a social trip to Dagenham to a pub where a band called The Tremeloes were playing. “How dare some local lads call themselves the same name as one of my favourite bands” I said to our organiser. I was persuaded to be sociable and so I went.
Well this band poked into the pub corner started off with a Tremeloes hit and sounded and looked like them. Gobsmacked I yelled at my workmates “This is The Tremeloes”. They all laughed saying “how come you have heard of them?” The band heard this and said “You sound like a Kiwi. We are number 1 over there. Would you like a request?” So I rattled off all their hits and my workmates were speechless.

There are so many things I loved about London. I have London pictures etc in my house. When Pete puts his nostalgic posts on here, my tears raise the Thames each time.

But there’s another part of London that’s unique and that’s its music.

A good question to ask is how many songs there are? Thousands. I will rattle off some and you can look them up yourselves or comment on your own favourites – and there will be many of all genres.

A Foggy Day in London Town by Gershwin, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square by Vera Lynn, Any Old Iron by Harry Champion, Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty, Burlington Bertie from Bow by Herbie Flowers, Carry On London by Billy Cotton, Changing the Guards at Buckingham Palace, Dark Streets of London by The Pogues, Dedicated Follower of Fashion by The Kinks, Donald Where’s Your troosers by Andy Stewart (“I went down to London Town I had some fun in the underground”), England Swings by Roger Miller, Finchley Central by New Vaudeville Band, In A Golden Coach by Billy Cotton, Itchycoo Park (Little Ilford Park) by Small Faces, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, Kew Gardens by Ralph McTell, Knees Up Mother Brown, Knocked ’em in the Old Kent Rd by Albert Chevalier, The Lambeth Walk, Last Night in Soho by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, Last Train to London by ELO, London Bridge is Falling Down, London‘s Burning, London Pride by Noël Coward, Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner by Hubert Gregg, Old Father Thames, Paddington Bear by Bernard Cribbins, Petticoat Lane by Stanley Holloway, Puttin’ on The Ritz by Irving Berlin, Rainy Night in Soho by The Pogues, Streets of London by Ralph McTell, Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks, Werewolves of London, West End Girls by Pet Shop Boys, When the Lights Go Up in London by Hubert Gregg, The Wombles, (lots of songs about Piccadilly & Soho)

Then there are military band items like London Calling by Eric Coates, Birdcage Walk, Down the Mall, Knightsbridge and the Yeoman of the Guard by Gilbert & Sullivan.

34 thoughts on “Guest Post: Gavin Marriott On London Songs And Music

  1. I passed on this blog to many in my music circles and received many good comments. I thought this one worthy of adding as it is from an eminent international orchestra conductor (including the London’s Royal Philharmonic) & a composer friend of mine – whom I shall take the liberty of adding something interesting in that direction at the end.

    “I grew up on the music of the Queens Hall Light Orchestra and the British light music composers: Eric Coates, Sidney Torch, Charles Williams, Albert Kettelby, Robert Farnon, Vivian Ellis and the list goes on with the many melodies associated with London. I always conducted some British light music with my Symphony Orchestra. I was playing piano in a trio with my brother in the London pub scene, mainly in Finchley, for nearly 2 years, 3 nights a week during the late 60’s, so I was up to date with all the hits of the time. Cheers Gary Daverne ONZM Conductor Emeritus Auckland Symphony Orchestra.”

    Now I didn’t know about Gary’s time in London and it explains something. A few years ago Gary asked me “if there was a tune about you Gavin, what would it be?” I stated it would be a march (as I like the London military bands) and it would reflect me driving my ambulance around London & how I love London music. Listen to what Gary did . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Popman, your son puts together a great set list & proving there is just no end to London being the choice of a song topic.
      ‘Londons Burning’ from the Clash (for those youngsters here) is totally different to the famous fire brigade song – a round we sung at beginning school.
      Your son proves himself proudly in his 2 Kinks choices. Dedicated Follower of Fashion & of course the famous Waterloo Sunset.
      I was about to leave the LAS & took a patient to Tommys in the early evening. I drove onto Waterloo Bridge and got my crew mate to take a photo of me with a Waterloo Sunset. A cop car comes along & the coppers start singing the song. And you wonder why London is in my heart. O gawd, the Thames has risen.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m only familiar with four of those songs. I’ve never been granted a request, but I’ve been to a few concerts (Elvis Presley, Olivia Newton-John, Andy Williams, Bette Midler, Patricia Kaas, Astrud Gilberto, Three Dog Night, U2, etc.).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Theres a funny phenomenon. I’ve been a music promoter (in my other life) & an artist can do the same show anywhere in the world – but ask a punter about a show and they will always state WHERE they saw them. “I saw them in London you know” every time. And I’m the same. I could have seen The Seekers in NZ but as I was in London 2014 I can now say “I saw them at the Albert Hall !!!
      And as for Queen. I didn’t see them at Wembley. I seen them, but not at Wembley (sigh).

      Liked by 2 people

  3. That is so cool you got to see and hear The Tremeloes, Gavin. These songs/bands were popular in Canada too. I was lucky to see Gerry and the Pacemakers playing in a bar in a hotel I was staying at in Edmonton, Alberta in the early 80s. They were older but still good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are still around, Darlene.
      “As of 2021, Chip Hawkes, Rick Westwood, Mick Clarke, Jodie Hawkes and Richard Marsh are still performing live as The Tremeloes in the UK nostalgia circuits.”
      Chip’s son, Chesney Hawkes, had some hit records too.
      “Chesney Lee Hawkes is an English pop singer and occasional actor. He started his career at the age of 19 when he appeared in the film Buddy’s Song, which featured his best-known single “The One and Only”, which topped the UK Singles Chart for five weeks and reached the Top 10 in the United States.”
      He is also still performing in Britain.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

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